Stop giving cycles to students, time to give them laptops, says Chairman and CEO of Salesforce India Arundhati Bhattacharya

She was speaking at the launch of the collaboration between Manipal Global Education Services and Salesforce to launch a skill development academy for graduates and young professionals
File photo of Arundhati Bhattacharya | (Pic: Express)
File photo of Arundhati Bhattacharya | (Pic: Express)

It's time the government stopped giving cycles to students and started giving iPad and laptops instead. Also, conduct a DBT (direct benefit transfer) to pay the broadband fees, said Arundhati Bhattacharya, CEO & Chairperson, Salesforce India and former Chairperson of the State Bank of India. 

Speaking at the launch of the collaboration between Manipal Global Education Services and Salesforce to launch a skill development academy for graduates and young professionals, Bhattacharya said that the (DBT to students) suggestion was made to the government already and she intends on making it till it takes root. "At one point, you needed cycles to go to school but today, you can do a lot of skilling just by sitting at home, if you have these two things," she added. 

Bhattacharya agreed that there is definitely a huge need among the less privileged because they don't have access to online material. It's also because of the bandwidth problem as bandwidth is not the same across the country. The second is many do not have high-end devices for a good experience.

TV Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Manipal Global Education Services believed that the access to smartphone problem is being solved across India. "We have one billion mobile connections in India, of which, 250 million are feature phones. But with Jio coming out with low-cost smartphones and an installment plan, they hope to make these 250 million into smartphones hence, all, barring young children, will have access to smartphones, maybe at least 85-90 per cent," he said.

Pai believed that there is a huge demand for skilled forces and anyone who is underprivileged will have access and that will be by deliberate intervention by corporates, the government and from the demand side as well. "Free software training is available. The demand (from the industry) is so large that you cannot confine yourself to the top 100 colleges. Today, out of 3,500 engineering colleges, people are going to 3,000 colleges. Out of 51,000 colleges in India for higher education, people are reaching out to 30,000 colleges. The skill development programme is spreading its wings all across — all governments have jobs as key objectives," Pai said.

He also encouraged the idea of learning coding at the school level where students could pick the necessary skill easily, in addition to art, writing, reading and arithmetic. Coding is the skill you need, added Pai, advocating a new slogan from 'Roti, kapda, makan aur bandwidth' to 'Roti, kapda, makan and coding'. Pai believed that in the next decade, the greatest job demand will be at the top of the pyramid — people who are experts in technology because that's where the innovation starts and we need to create a huge ecosystem. "We just have 500 PhDs in Computer Science while we need 5,000 of them per year; we have 15-20 thousand master's degrees while we need 100 thousand master's degrees per year. The demand will be there because innovation will be led out of that," he shared.

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