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Lectures and Colloquia

India 2020: Technologies for a Smarter Nation

IBM Research - India

What does it take for a country to become a smarter nation? Economic growth, social progress, quality education, or empowered citizens – perhaps all of them and many more. However, what remains critical and constant, especially in today’s world, is a technology vision, as it plays a fundamental role in all the aspects of a future-ready nation.

The 250 plus audience at IBM Centennial Colloquium, “India 2020: Technologies for a Smarter Nation,” and IBM Collaborative Academia Research Engagement (I-CARE) program watched some of the best minds from academia, government, and industry discuss and debate this vision. Part of IBM’s Centennial Celebration Program, the event was organized by IBM Research – India on October 13.

Enriching lives and bringing social change

In his inaugural address, Mr. N Ravi Shanker, Additional Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Government of India, talked about the importance of technology in bringing social transformation. For India, due to its enormous scale, multi-faceted diversity, and unique demographics, technology is even more critical to this transformation. To ensure that the nation’s growth results in socio-economic progress and better standards of living for its people, technology must become a key enabler, Mr N Ravi Shanker stressed.

Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthy, Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, discussed the importance of sustainability in creating a smarter nation. In his presentation, “Sustainable Nation, Smarter Nation,” Prof. Ramamurthy, shed light on various facets of a smarter nation, like energy, healthcare, telecommunication, and agriculture among others, and how technology can bring higher efficiency and greater productivity in each of these areas.

Diversity of ideas

The panel discussion, based on the overall theme of the event, was highly engaging and sparked several interesting questions and comments from the audience. Prof. Pankaj Jalote, Director, IIT Delhi; Dr. Tilak Agerwala, Vice President, Systems, IBM Research; Dr. Manish Gupta, Director, IBM Research – India, along with Mr. N Ravi Shanker and Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthy, were part of the panel, moderated by Dr. Raghuram Krishnapuram, Associate Director – Solutions, IBM Research – India.

The themes that emerged from the panel for developing a technology vision for India were: education, innovation, data and public-private partnership. All the panelists found it imperative to have an education system that truly nurtures knowledge and learning. They also opined that the eco-system should learn to accept failure as part of learning that would help innovative ideas to flourish into successful entrepreneurial endeavors. Public-private partnership, still at a nascent stage in India, many thought, is a way forward for enabling technology to build a nation of the future.

Another issue discussed is the need to develop technologies that can deal with highly unstructured data, especially in the context of a diverse and developing country such as India. The panelists also stressed the importance of establishing scalable, affordable, robust and effective delivery models for this data.

Tracks and stars

The event also featured parallel track sessions on topics of great technical interest: Smarter Cities, Services for Emerging Countries, Programming Language and Engineering, and Next Generation Systems. Experts from academia, industry, and IBM shared their vision in these sessions and urged the student community to develop breakthrough innovations.

In the poster and demo presentation sessions, students from top technical institutions participated, presented their thought-provoking ideas. More than 170 submissions were received of the session, with 48 posters and demos being selected for the final. The winning posters and demos received awards and certificates.