India's Digital Turn?

Exploring the strengths, weaknesses, and potential of India’s vast digital ecosystem. 

In February 2020, The Fletcher School and the Institute for Business in the Global Context (IBGC) convened an expert group of international business leaders, policymakers, investors, and students for the India’s Digital Turn? Unconference, an open-forum event where everyone is a speaker. 

The Unconference is apart of the IBGC’s “Turn?” Series of conferences, which analyze potential growth markets faced with extreme uncertainty. The India’s Digital Turn? Unconference discussed the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of the country’s vast digital ecosystem and how it can expedite economic and societal growth.

The catalysts of change who led this interactive session included: 

  • Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO of Flipkart
  • Lydia Jett, Partner at SoftBank Vision Fund
  • Sridaran Natesan, Vice President and Head of Strategic Initiatives & Scientific Relations of Sanofi
  • Durva Trivedi, Associate of Data and Technology at The Rockefeller Foundation
  • Madhumitha Ramanathan, Former Vice President of Invest India

India's Digital Economy:

The Promises and The Perils

India has one of the fastest growing digital economies in the world. The country is home to over 500 million mobile users who consume an average of 8.3 gigabits (GB) of data every month. With data costs falling 95% since 2013, it’s projected that India will see a 40% increase in mobile users in just three years. India is also home to some path-breaking digital innovations, from unique ID, to mobile payments, to data sharing. On the policy front, there are plans for a hundred smart cities, a Digital India initiative, and projects that aim to protect data privacy.

Despite the promising developments, India faces several considerable challenges. Chief among them are its soaring unemployment rate, which is predicted to remain 6.4% through 2020, its faltering economy, and the continuing challenges of ad hoc internet shutdowns, continued heavy cash usage following a drastic demonetization move in 2016, social media fueled false narratives, and regulatory issues that create uncertainty for digital companies.

Where is India's Economy Headed?

Today, India finds itself at an important point of inflection. In order to accelerate growth, leaders from across the country must come together to translate India’s powerful digital potential into economic and societal growth. Simultaneously, India needs to improve on the ease of doing digital business.  

Moderated by Bhaskar Chakravorti, Fletcher’s Dean of Global Business, the Unconference will discuss areas of untapped potential within India and how to best utilize its vast digital ecosystem. This event builds on the research of Digital Planet, an interdisciplinary research initiative of The Fletcher School’s Institute for Business in the Global Context that is dedicated to understanding the impact of digital innovations on the world. 

India’s Digital Turn? will cover the key findings of Digital Planet’s latest research, supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, on what it will take for India to unlock economic and societal value from digital growth. 

Watch the Unconference Video Recap