India’s Digital Turn?

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; and Madhumitha Ramanathan, Vice President of Invest India

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Featured Catalysts

Lydia Jett

Lydia Jett

Partner, SoftBank Vision Fund
Lydia Jett serves as a Partner at SoftBank Vision Fund L.P., and previously at SoftBank Group Corp International, where she oversees some of the world’s largest technology investments. Lydia joined SoftBank in 2015, leading and managing global investments in consumer internet and e-commerce companies.

Kalyan Krishnamurthy

CEO, Flipkart
Kalyan Krishnamurthy is the CEO of India's largest e-commerce marketplace, Flipkart. As CEO, a role he assumed in January 2017, Kalyan is responsible for driving the growth and operations charter of Flipkart. In addition, he steers overall customer experience development.

Sridaran Natesan

Vice President, Head of Strategic Initiatives & Scientific Relations, Sanofi
Sridaran Natesan is the Vice President and Head of Strategic Initiatives & Scientific Relations at Sanofi. Previously, he was the Head of External Innovation for Sanofi and was responsible for important business deals including Alnylam, Selecta, and Portal Instruments. In addition, he managed several strategic partnerships with MIT, Harvard, JDRF, Joslin Diabetes Center, Dana Farber Cancer Center.

Madhumitha Ramanathan

Madhumitha Ramanathan

Vice President, Invest India
Madhumitha Ramanathan is a Vice President and Co-Head Global Investor Outreach at Invest India. She leads investor relationships globally across all industry sectors and advises and consults CXOs and Board of Directors of companies from several countries on their market entry and expansion strategies in India.

Durva Trivedi

Associate, Data & Technology, The Rockefeller Foundation
Durva Trivedi is an Associate on the Innovation, Data and Technology team. She works on grants and partnerships focused on digital transformation of governments aiming to support people and communities with better delivery of public goods, services and infrastructure. She is especially interested in questions of human impact and the ethical design of government technology platforms.

Fletcher Student Research Group

Fletcher's Student Research Team

India's Digital Turn? Research Report
The Fletcher School's team of student researchers will present the key findings from their research project, which is supported by The Rockefeller Foundation and represented by Durva Trivedi, Associate, Data & Technology.

Team Members
Pranav Jain
, Master of International Business Candidate 2021
Achintya Saurabh, Master of Law and Diplomacy Candidate 2020
Elizabeth Sims, Master of International Business Candidate 2021
Zhuo Joy Zhang, Research Analyst, Institute for Business in the Global Context

Research Sponsored By:

India's Digital Economy:

Promises and 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.

India's Turn?

Where is its digital 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.