The third session of NASSCOM Foundation’s #TechForGood eSeries, powered by CGI, was held on 31 March. The webinar talked through four broad sections, each discussing the role of technology as an enabler for positive social change, especially for the underprivileged. It covered various discussion points, including the need for accelerating technology adoption to overcome the socio-economic divide and the roadmap for transforming the entire nation by leveraging technology efficiently, effectively, and sustainably.
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Inclusion Through Frontier Technologies and Collaboration
The session began with an inspirational keynote from Mr Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, Govt. of India, who spoke on the role of artificial intelligence and other frontier technologies to address inclusion and social empowerment challenges. Whether it is the digitisation of identities through Aadhar cards or the use of frontier technologies like Blockchain and Machine Learning, the Indian government is using technologies to push financial, social, and economic inclusion in the country.
Mr Kant concluded his speech by urging everyone to come together and said, “The government cannot do everything alone. We need everyone in the ecosystem to come together. Technology in itself is not the end goal; the goal is to make a difference in people's lives. People-centric frameworks for technology adoption and application will be the cornerstone of India's approach going forward.”
After a sneak-peek into the Indian government’s efforts to adopt digital technologies, Mr George Mattackal, President, Asia-Pacific Global Delivery Centers of Excellence, CGI, delivered another insightful keynote speech that focused on the three main initiatives of CGI to drive tech for social good. Like Mr Kant, he also emphasised the need for everyone to come together to turn adversity into opportunity through technology. He said, “2020 was indeed an unexpected, unusual, and challenging year. However, it has provided us opportunities to accelerate social change through technology.”
Key Takeaways of the Tech for Good Report
The key findings of the report include:
The report can be downloaded from https://bit.ly/T4G-Report
The session also had an interactive panel discussion that consisted of elite panellists comprising Rebecca Masisak, CEO, TechSoup; Sudhir Subbaraman, Senior Vice President, Business Unit Head, CGI; Shradha Sharma, Founder & Chief Editor, YourStory; and Rahul Panicker, Chief Research & Innovation Officer, Wadhwani AI.
Innovation at the Grassroot Levels
All the panellists shed light on how their respective organisations are using technology to help solve the socio-economic challenges of a country as vast and diverse as India. The opening remarks saw Ms Masisak succinctly explain how her non-profit is facilitating the use of technologies at grassroots levels with the help of smaller NGOs. Mr Subbaraman elaborated on how he thinks of solving social-economic challenges by aligning tech for good with a business approach.
Ms Sharma elaborated on how YourStory has been enabling social entrepreneurship by creating an ecosystem of digital media and communities for the last 13 years. The opening remarks concluded with Mr Panicker expressing his views on how AI can transform critical sectors like healthcare, education, and financial services and gave two examples of how tech innovation is aiding inclusion at the bottom of the pyramid.
Well-Connected Network for Scaling
The panel agreed on scaling social innovation models through a proper partnership network and corporate social responsibility. Ms Masisak emphasised the need to have a well-connected network of NGOs, corporates, and foundations to touch the lives of millions in the remotest areas of the country with technology.
Mr Subbaraman seconded Ms Masisak’s comments and said, “In recent years, there's a strong growing interest in the community and not just on shareholder value. The way it is manifesting is the emergence of three different models, broadly of investing in corporate responsibility: impact investing, socially responsible investment (SRI) and environmental social and governance (ESG).”
Ms Sharma and Mr Panicker both agreed on the role of mobile apps and social media in changing society for good. Whether it is IoT in sectors like agriculture or creating an entrepreneurship ecosystem with social media for information dissemination, technology can lead to sustainability. However, this can only be achieved by engaging civil society organisations and building partnerships across different sectors.
The webinar concluded with an interactive Q&A session. Watch the full webinar here:
The Foundation also announced the launch of the Tech for Good awards 2021 for all companies, social enterprises and NGOs. Apply now at https://t4g.nasscomfoundation.org/
This is a partnered post.