Getting the feet wet for Aatmanirbhar Bharat 3.0

Hardware capabilities, IP, academia-business collaboration, and value add are critical areas to master for the country to win.

Manisha Parashar
New Update
Getting the feet wet

Hardware capabilities, IP, academia-business collaboration, and value add are critical areas to master for the country to win the Make-in-India game


At Voice&Data Telecom Leadership Forum, CyberMedia Group Chairman Pradeep Gupta started a thought-provoking discussion on the pillars of self-reliance for the industry in India. He began the snowball of sharp self-reflection by introducing how Aatmanirbhar Bharat is a theme that has been shaping up for several years to develop indigenous strengths in various areas.

“We have cracked the software part quite well by now. But what about the hardware part? Are we Aatmanirbhar on that aspect of the telecom sector,” he asked.

Not just software and local markets


Drawing from experiences of country-made health stacks, biometric platforms like UIDAI, and other big-scale initiatives in the country, Dr RS Sharma, Former CEO, NHA and Former Chairman, TRAI, pointed out that the country should be self-sufficient but also make it for the world. “That would be the real success of Make-in-India. What’s unique about Aatmanirbhar Bharat is that it has its way of developing a democratic architecture, with open APIs, good scalability, an impactful approach, robustness, and interoperability,” he said.

Aatmanirbhar Bharat has its way of developing a democratic architecture, with open APIs, good scalability, robustness, and interoperability.

Sharma also highlighted ONDC as a good example. “ONDC is in the initial stage of development, similar to CoWin which is connected to a lot of applications in the front-end. We develop frameworks around which others can plug in and connect. UHI is driven by the idea that people are not restricted by a lack of interoperability. That will unleash the entire market because then people will not have to develop vertical solutions, but can leverage potential by developing parts of the solution.”


Dr Kumar Sivarajan, Co-founder and CTO, Tejas Networks shared insight on how the company focused on the development of core technology when it was still at a nascent stage. “We have been focusing on telecom products, both hardware and software. There are many initiatives in the country from 4G stack to 5G Technology capabilities. We are on a good path,” he said.

“I have found this term Aatmanirbhar very insular in nature. As entrepreneurs, we build multiple businesses. We have tried to create products that can be relevant to a major part of the global market that may not speak English. Most of the things we do here at Koo are from that lens,” Mayank Bidawatka, Co-Founder, Koo shared his insights as a serial entrepreneur.

“We want to start a revolution of creating Indian consumer brands from India. It is a competitive landscape but it is also a very exciting time,” he said.


What India has and what it lacks

Addressing the pink elephant in the room, Gupta asked the panel. “We have not taken the leadership role with 5G. Also, what can we do with foreign technologies and the value-add aspect?”

Sivarajan answered that by spelling out how India played only catch-up in 4G and with 5G, we are barely there. “We have just got our foot in. India has taken several steps towards 5G standards. On encouraging academia, on bolstering start-ups, ecosystems and markets. We have learnt that game now. We can generate IP, set requirements and, then, can have companies that can design both infrastructure equipment and chips. We have the formation in place but in the next 5-6 years we will see this shape into impact.”


Can we take Indian products to a global stage, Gupta wondered.

India has taken several steps towards 5G standards – encouraging academia, bolstering start-ups, ecosystems and markets – learning the game now.

Bidawatka explained that competing with global tech in social space is a long, difficult but exciting journey. “It’s not easy to crack. It will take time. India has a lot of talent. We have a great competitive edge, with low-cost structures compared to big tech companies. We are capable of creating very low-cost tech and serving the world. Growth can happen country by country with different models of partnerships and scale.”


Also, what can India do to be self-reliant in this challenging future that will open up with the advent of emerging technologies like AI and VR, Gupta asked.

“India has both talent and confidence today. We are now sure that what we are building is world-class, while also being extremely good at scaling up – from what we can see with CoWIN. We have also created a lot of horizontal stacks which are building blocks for a lot of things. These blocks are foundational and will not become irrelevant when AI and ML come in,” Sharma said citing India’s unique efforts towards the future with language translation projects like Bhashini.

Looks like the diversity, talent and confidence of India and our ability to prepare strong building blocks will write a new narrative for India’s Aatmanirbhar journey.


By Pratima Harigunani