Enabling Digital Initiatives: Neeraj Sahdev

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Enabling Digital Initiatives

Ever since the new government has taken charge, various digital initiatives have been in the limelight, roping in private players as the facilitators for implemention of these programmes. Neeraj Sahdev, General Manager & Head – Wipro, tells Souvik Goswami of Elets News Network (ENN) how the corporate world, along with the government, is helping India grow digitally

What is Wipro expecting from the government sector as a whole?

Wipro has been working with the government for a very long time. We have different views and perception of the market and the ways of working with the government. Since the arrival of the new government, one has witnessed a huge shift. There have been many large projects in the pipeline, including the National eGovernance Programme (NeGP). However, many of them have not been successful as the nature of these projects is very complex.

Even as majority of our peers have taken a passive stand to work on the government projects, we are enthused to work with the government. It is crucial to see how the projects are executed in a relatively risk-free manner. For instance, if you look at large companies like us, among others, there are issues with respect to payments, closures or not accepting applications among others. We are trying to work with the government in terms of easing things, to ensure building capacity and improvise terms and conditions, while providing a conducive environment to corporates and private players to complete the programmes.

At the same time, we have sought to help the new government attain its dream project of making India digital.

Do you think initiatives like Make in India, Digital India and Smart Cities offer opportunities to major IT companies like yours?

The government today has taken up three to four or more flagship programmes. The projects like Digital India, Make in India or Smart Cities, are crucial from the perspective of the new government. If they have to deliver electronic services to the citizens then, Digital India needs to be nurtured. They have to set up the infrastructure and ensure that the citizens are skilled necessarily.

At the same time, the government is also realising that to make crucial programmes successful, like providing connectivity for 2,50,000 gram panchayats across the country, it has to be resourceful. This invites companies like Wipro to be a part in various capacities like consulting, advisory, execution and design in others. The opportunity space for us from an end to end perspective is massive. Be it global or Indian companies, right from the top of the boards of companies, they are looking for ways to participate in Digital India campaign. Such situations open a huge gamut of opportunities.

‘We are trying to work with the government in terms of easing things, to ensure building capacity and improvise terms and conditions while providing a conducive environment to corporates and private players to help execute the programmes’

The same goes for Make in India. If the government realises to grow in a swifter pace, then it requires strengthening the manufacturing sector. Further, we need to promote manufacturing of goods to be sold in India, along with the trade deficit, in terms of export and import. To ensure equal employment opportunities are created in the country, Make in India is the sought after programme. This promising programme is also seen as a platform of participation for companies like Wipro. Since we are based in India, we can manufacture here.

The third promising programme focuses on Smart Cities, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is driving. The programme is seen as a tool that can pave in modernising our infrastructure while ensuring that it is linked to Digital India. It further assures that the core infrastructure in a city will be made digital. This validates Digital India programme in terms of providing suitable facilities. A lot of things that citizens require today are based on inclusion, such as financial inclusion, educational inclusion, digital inclusion. This scenario has a suitable role for a company like Wipro, which has significant capabilities in the space.

Working with the government sector, what are the various challenges you face and how can these be overcome?

The developmental projects of today are very complex, though the thought process, the idea and the vision are exemplary. The challenge comes in when one needs to head the vision optimally. This is where the government makes it conducive for players like Wipro and other large companies to come together in a fashion that turns it into a win-win situation.

To overcome the challenges, Wipro is working upfront with the government. We are trying work with them and advise them through a policy and enhance their thought processes to understand the issues that the industry faces today better.

Do you think the digital initiatives of the government, or even the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), will dispel the apprehensions of the industry?

The mentioned programmes are massive in scale, however, they need to be executed first. When we talk to the people at the senior level, be it IT secretaries of various states or secretaries of various ministries, they seem very positive. They know what needs to be done. But, the gap lies in ensuring it is being executed in reality. This is something which needs to be looked at and addressed.

What are the focus states of Wipro in terms of engaging government for programmes like Digital India and Smart City?

Digital India is a programme which is centrally relevant and has different contours that will be clubbed under one pillar and will be executed by the states. So, we are focussed on all states, where we have traditionally been working and where we have garnered some good relations with the people. Once we get in, we tend to work across all the departments.

What will be your future plan in terms of getting engaged with the government?

We are looking at enhancing ourselves by participating in large and transformational programmes and are ready to work with the states which are futuristic and transformative in nature. We are also trying to swiftly engage ourselves with the government right from the policy level  to ensure participation while moving forward.

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