To enable India and its firms to be globally competitive in digital solutions and services, policies to improve infrastructure and regulatory costs or even innovation capability will not be enough (The India Today Group via Getty)
To enable India and its firms to be globally competitive in digital solutions and services, policies to improve infrastructure and regulatory costs or even innovation capability will not be enough (The India Today Group via Getty)

In a post-Covid world, a new toolkit for governments

Traditional supply chains do not possess all the capabilities to solve customer needs. An ecosystem of partners with different skills can do that
By Amitabh Kant and Arindam Bhattacharya
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 08:39 PM IST

A post-Covid-19 world of increased volatility, social and economic tensions, but also one of huge opportunity from technology, is hurtling towards us. Businesses are urgently redefining their strategies to compete in this new era where the growth of the “digital” collides with the slowdown of the “physical”.

But what about governments? Surely, if businesses and supply chains are transforming, economic policymaking and governance models cannot remain unchanged.

Economic policies of the 20th century were for a world of “physical” supply chains. In the last few decades, China was the biggest beneficiary of such industrial strategies. In the 21st century, the value pools in every industry are shifting from the physical to the digital (for instance, mobility services or even music streaming in a car). Policymakers must take into account this rapid growth of digital solutions and services. In terms of India’s economic strategies, while industrial policy should continue to target a greater share in global physical supply chains, India should not miss the bus to build a competitive position in the new global digital value chains.

What does this mean for governments? Let’s take the example of a tractor manufacturer who wants to shift from selling a product to selling a digital farm solution to farmers to improve their profits.

To do this, the manufacturer has to integrate data that measures performance factors such as soil conditions, machine performance, depth of planting with external data on inputs, crop prices and weather into an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm, which allows the farmer to make considered economic choices.

To enable India and its firms to be globally competitive in digital solutions and services, policies to improve infrastructure and regulatory costs or even innovation capability will not be enough. India needs policies that aggressively build an equally competitive data and digital infrastructure, AI/machine learning (ML) capabilities, with supportive policies on data-sharing and privacy. India will need many more data scientists, analysts and AI/ML programmers.

Another idea from businesses that we find fascinating for governments is the emergence of ecosystems as platforms to solve customer problems. The rationale is simple. Traditional supply chains do not possess all the capabilities to solve fast-changing and complex customer needs. An ecosystem of partners with different skills, using shared digital architecture and data, can do that. For example, tractor manufacturers cannot offer digital solutions to the farmer. They need an ecosystem of partners who offer different parts of the solution — from pricing analysis to weather forecasts and drone-based soil analysis. Governments face a similar challenge of the complex needs of people. They can, therefore, adopt this innovative business model.

However, to do that, they must overcome the cultural challenge posed by the “rules of engagement” for business ecosystems. Ecosystems are more open and collaborative (ranging from completely open such as Wikipedia or semi-open such as an e-marketplace) compared to a “closed” system (controlled by one entity in terms of data flows and transactions). They have a greater number of participants, more diversity and limited/no hierarchy, all connected digitally, with a common objective to deliver customer value. They operate with an open and win-win mindset. Can governments build public ecosystems which harness skills and capabilities inside and outside governments, enabled by digital infrastructure and data-sharing and appropriate public policy, in a culture of openness and collaboration?

The last idea draws upon two radical organisational innovations adopted by leading-edge companies. The first is the concept of agile teams, in a move away from traditional efficiency-driven hierarchical and siloed organisations. Agile is both a philosophy and a way to deliver value. Agile teams are focused, non-hierarchical, cross-functional and outcome-driven. Outputs are clearly defined, measurable and delivered in “sprints”, ie, in short periods. There are no reports sent from one silo to another, everyone sits in a room, meetings are short, standing, and participative. There is no place to “hide”.

The second is the creation of an internal, dynamic talent market. Desired outcomes are broken into projects and open for people to apply, even external talent, selectively. Those best skilled and qualified are selected, not the most experienced or senior-most. In this talent marketplace, continuous skill upgradation is more important than the years of service and position. While both are radical ideas especially for a hierarchical bureaucracy, they will be increasingly important to deliver a better outcome.

As the post-Covid world unfolds, businesses are deploying a new playbook to compete and thrive. Governments also need to design and deploy one, if they want to better serve the demanding needs of their people in the 21st century.

Amitabh Kant is CEO, Niti Aayog and Arindam Bhattacharya is senior partner, BCG India

This article been influenced by Beyond Great: 9 Strategies for Thriving in an Era of Social Tension, Economic Nationalism and Technological Revolution

The views expressed are personal

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
The Digital Media Code has been formulated rather speciously, under Section 87 (1) & (2)(z) & (zg) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (as amended) (“IT Act”) i.e., the rule-making power. Rule-making or subordinate legislations are intended to carry out the purpose of an enactment. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The Digital Media Code has been formulated rather speciously, under Section 87 (1) & (2)(z) & (zg) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (as amended) (“IT Act”) i.e., the rule-making power. Rule-making or subordinate legislations are intended to carry out the purpose of an enactment. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Creating a sustainable, legitimate digital regulatory regime

By NS Nappinai
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 05:55 PM IST
The Digital Media Code fails to conform to, and, in fact, confounds, every settled constitutional mandate for lawmaking — the very obvious premise that law is to be made by the lawmakers i.e. the legislature and not the executive.
Close
Six decades after the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, the continuing prevalence of dowry remains India’s national shame. The 2019 National Crime Records Bureau data tells us that a woman is subject to cruelty by her husband and in-laws every four minutes. (Reuters)
Six decades after the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, the continuing prevalence of dowry remains India’s national shame. The 2019 National Crime Records Bureau data tells us that a woman is subject to cruelty by her husband and in-laws every four minutes. (Reuters)

Dowry remains India’s abiding shame

UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 05:47 PM IST
In the run-up to the International Women’s Day, it’s good to celebrate the undeniable gains on our road to gender equality. But it’s also worth remembering just how far we have to go — and how little has changed.
Close
Indian nationalism has always been inward-looking and focused on national development, which was always strongly imbued with welfare and social justice goals (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Indian nationalism has always been inward-looking and focused on national development, which was always strongly imbued with welfare and social justice goals (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

In defence of rooted Indian nationalism

By Abhinav Prakash Singh
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:38 PM IST
Indian nationalism does not seek to conquer or colonise other countries. Instead, it supported national struggles in other countries under imperialist rule, emphasising sovereignty and democracy.
Close
A more careful look at how the BJP has risen in Bengal, and how the ruling TMC has sought to counteract its growth, is instructive in understanding the new dimensions of the BJP’s appeal and possible templates to defeat it (Samir Jana / Hindustan Times)
A more careful look at how the BJP has risen in Bengal, and how the ruling TMC has sought to counteract its growth, is instructive in understanding the new dimensions of the BJP’s appeal and possible templates to defeat it (Samir Jana / Hindustan Times)

Why the battle of Bengal matters

By Neelanjan Sircar
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:38 PM IST
The BJP’s rise is remarkable. If the TMC still wins, it will offer a template on how to challenge a hegemon
Close
Ratings, of BARC type, are indispensable for the broadcast industry (Hindustan Times)
Ratings, of BARC type, are indispensable for the broadcast industry (Hindustan Times)

BARC plays a valuable role. Preserve it

By Paritosh Joshi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:38 PM IST
BARC has its problems. But the solution is unlikely to lie in denouncing it. It is still the best bet for hundreds of broadcasters to remain viable, and hundreds of millions of viewers to enjoy the fruits of their exertion
Close
There have been major state-level differences in the burden and mortality from Covid-19. Deploy vaccines accordingly and prioritise affected areas (Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
There have been major state-level differences in the burden and mortality from Covid-19. Deploy vaccines accordingly and prioritise affected areas (Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

Refine the Covid-19 vaccination strategy

By Rajinder Dhamija
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 02:13 PM IST
Research has shown that the pandemic has disproportionately affected regions witha high per capita income and a high burden of NCDs
Close
Having women leaders leads to improved provision of public goods and focus on education and health (Shutterstock)
Having women leaders leads to improved provision of public goods and focus on education and health (Shutterstock)

Where are India’s women leaders?

By Soumya Kapoor Mehta and Steven Walker
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 02:14 PM IST
Women are less involved when it comes to participation in campaigns and contacts with public officials. Women candidates also have less education and experience, on average, compared to male candidates. There are also different societal expectations from political leaders of different genders
Close
Japan’s prime minister Yoshihide Suga, announced a minister of loneliness to his cabinet last month, closely following a similar announcement in January 2018 by the United Kingdom (UK). Loneliness is rarely acknowledged, deeply misunderstood, and alongside anxiety and depression, presents a massive opportunity for rectification as India copes with Covid-19 and beyond. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Japan’s prime minister Yoshihide Suga, announced a minister of loneliness to his cabinet last month, closely following a similar announcement in January 2018 by the United Kingdom (UK). Loneliness is rarely acknowledged, deeply misunderstood, and alongside anxiety and depression, presents a massive opportunity for rectification as India copes with Covid-19 and beyond. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

There is a looming epidemic — of loneliness. Take it seriously

By Saumyajit Roy
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 02:14 PM IST
India has a real opportunity to showcase solutions to a global audience towards using the best of tech and expertise in reducing loneliness. While a dedicated ministry for loneliness may just be the impetus, all we need is to look for are basic ways and means to help people who are on the brink of feeling lonely.
Close
India ranks very low in the list of well-administered nations and rank high amongst corrupt nations. despite several efforts to overhaul the administrative processes(HT Photo)
India ranks very low in the list of well-administered nations and rank high amongst corrupt nations. despite several efforts to overhaul the administrative processes(HT Photo)

Scratching the surface hasn’ helped. It is time to strike at the core issues

By VS Pandey, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2021 03:02 PM IST
  • India's administrative structure led by All India Services such as the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS) adopted an approach of 5% vs 95%.
Close
While there may be a temporary easing of military tension, there has been criticism in China of the disengagement. China could well attempt another military adventure in its bid to frustrate India’s rise (AFP)
While there may be a temporary easing of military tension, there has been criticism in China of the disengagement. China could well attempt another military adventure in its bid to frustrate India’s rise (AFP)

Disengagement will not lead to friendship

By Jayadeva Ranade
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2021 04:07 PM IST
Notwithstanding the recent exchanges between the Indian and Chinese foreign ministers and military commanders at the border, India-China relations remain at a critical stage
Close
Muslims have been the most educationally backward group in India. In comparison to their population, they have the lowest enrolment rates at elementary, high school and higher secondary school education, as well as higher education (Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times)
Muslims have been the most educationally backward group in India. In comparison to their population, they have the lowest enrolment rates at elementary, high school and higher secondary school education, as well as higher education (Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times)

Provide data on the education of Muslims

By John Kurrien
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 06:55 PM IST
Monitoring the educational progress of Muslims was hamstrung by the absence of official data, leading to their downward spiral that went unnoticed for decades
Close
Negative interactions between humans and wildlife intensify when local communities feel that wildlife needs or values are given priority over their own needs (Manoj Kumar/Hindustan Times)
Negative interactions between humans and wildlife intensify when local communities feel that wildlife needs or values are given priority over their own needs (Manoj Kumar/Hindustan Times)

The pandemic has added to the urgency of protecting wildlife

By Dipankar Ghose
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2021 04:14 PM IST
Wildlife conservation needs to be prioritised, and development plans at country, state and district levels need to take cognisance of wildlife needs
Close
Technology, communications, and data play to our strengths. These are the areas redefining every industry and we have the technology talent; our standards will be closer to the US, and we have continental-size data. (REUTERS)
Technology, communications, and data play to our strengths. These are the areas redefining every industry and we have the technology talent; our standards will be closer to the US, and we have continental-size data. (REUTERS)

The India-US tech partnership decade

By Janmejaya Sinha
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 07:30 PM IST
US support enabled China’s high-growth trajectory. But the rift between the two offers India an opportunity
Close
The Panchamasali Lingayat community is one of the largest sub-sect within the Lingayat community.(ANI/Twitter)
The Panchamasali Lingayat community is one of the largest sub-sect within the Lingayat community.(ANI/Twitter)

Who is stirring the caste cauldron in Karnataka?

By Venkatesha Babu, Bengaluru
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 07:08 PM IST
  • The Karnataka government has blamed the opposition for fishing in troubled waters by trying to take political advantage of the agitations but Yediyurappa may have to look within.
Close
Protesters take cover as they clash with riot police officers during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, February 28, 2021 (REUTERS)
Protesters take cover as they clash with riot police officers during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, February 28, 2021 (REUTERS)

As Myanmar turns violent, India can adopt a two-track approach

By Rajiv Bhatia
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:30 PM IST
The government, in principle, supports democracy everywhere, but is also committed to non-interference in the internal affairs of others. It strives to ensure that instability in Myanmar does not trigger support for insurgency in the Northeast. India’s development cooperation projects in Myanmar should not be delayed
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP