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India is sitting on a demographic dividend, expected to become the world's youngest country by 2020 with 64 per cent of its population, roughly 800 million people, of working age. But our country cannot become a global powerhouse unless we resolve the contradictions and bridge the gaps that distort our society. The challenge before us is to enable every one of India's 1.2 billion citizens to realize their aspirations. According to Nandan Nilekani and Viral Shah, the only way to do this is by using technology to radically reimagine government itself.
Rebooting India identifies a dozen initiatives where a series of citizen-friendly, high-tech public institutions can deliver low-cost solutions to India's grand challenges. Based on their learnings from building Aadhaar, the world's largest social identity programme, the initiatives Nilekani and Shah propose would save the government a minimum of Rs 1,00,000 crore annually, about 1 per cent of India's GDP enough to fund 200 Mangalyaan missions a year.
It doesn't take 10,000 people or even a thousand, say Nilekani and Shah. All it would take is a small focused team of highly skilled, enterprising individuals, and a supportive prime minister.
About the Author Nandan Nilekani, co-founder and former CEO of Infosys Technologies, was founding chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (Aadhaar). Author of the book Imagining India, he was twice listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME. In 2014, he was awarded The Economist's Innovation Award in the category Economic and Social Innovation. He is chairman of EkStep, a non-profit literacy and numeracy platform.
Viral Shah worked at the intersection of policy and technology at the Unique Identification Authority of India, where he led the design of the government's payments and subsidy platforms using Aadhaar. He is a co-inventor of the Julia programming language, and co-founder of FourthLion Technologies. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.