Nadella pitches Microsoft's digital initiatives for Rural India

Govt likely to apply Microsoft's Harisal project to pan-India Digi Gaon scheme

The Dollar Business Bureau

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, on his multi-city tour to India, met PM Narendra Modi and IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. In this brief meeting, he pitched Microsoft's digital inclusion initiatives to the government, which would help increase the reach of educational and healthcare services in rural areas. 

At NITI Aayog, Nadella participated in discussions to shed light on the growing importance of cloud computing in good governance. LinkedIn, now a professional social network wholly owned by Microsoft, was also discussed for its potential in skilling and employment generation, along with other rural digital programmes. 

Prasad also praised Microsoft's pilot project in Harisal, Maharashtra, which demonstrated the software giant's ability to bring good healthcare and education to remote areas by introducing digital connectivity. He also said that the government is mulling the prospect of applying the same to other villages, as part of its recently unveiled Digi Gaon scheme. 

The Indian American recently commented on Trump's crackdown on immigrants, taking a pro-immigration stance. Citing his own career, he said that it was an 'enlightened immigration policy' that made it possible. 

As a part of his trip, he interacted extensively with startups in the city of Bengaluru, and also bagged a deal from Flipkart, which has entered into a partnership with Microsoft for its cloud computing needs. Microsoft's Azure cloud platform, which has been rapidly growing its subscriber base, saw 93% jump in revenues last quarter. The main objective of Nadella's India visit is to woo startups towards its cloud services. India's buzzing startup ecosystem is a big market that Microsoft intends to tap into. Catching enterprises young is a good strategy, as it ensures life-long commitment and loyalty. In the Indian market for cloud services, Azure faces rigorous competition from Google and Amazon.  

In Bengaluru, he spoke on the topics like need for re-skilling and artificial intelligence, which is likely to render most jobs redundant in the near future. 

In Mumbai, Nadella is scheduled to speak at a conference themed 'Future Decoded'. 

India's push towards a digital economy is attracting the world's biggest software giants. Within a few months, the country saw three high-profile visits from the likes of Google, Apple and Microsoft. Apple has been keen on getting a pie of the Indian smartphone market via better pricing, for which it is setting up manufacturing in the country. Sundar Pichai, who had also recently paid a visit stressed the need for inclusion of small enterprises in the digital ecosystem. India's digital drive, in its process, is creating many lucrative opportunities for big technology MNCs.

The Dollar Business Bureau - Feb 22, 2017 12:00 IST