Digital India is a great way forward, says Ratnesh Kumar Jha, Managing Director of Cambridge University Press. In conversation with ENN, he says that the programme will change the way India will look from the next decade
What should be the new strategy for India given your own stint in IT, telecom, education solutions and now publishing? Given India’s vast geography, technology plays an important role in terms of addressing the reach and capacity building. Education done through technology with the world class content will help build capacity and solution for last mile connectivity. That is where we should be going and a lot of tone for that is being set. It is very positive to be part of that tone right now as an enabler.
What will make Digital India successful? It leverages on strength today. Without education, demographic dividend which we have envisioned for ourselves looks very difficult.
Cambridge in India now is 100 per cent Cambridge. What is the way forward? India’s story is close to the Cambridge story. Now, across the verticals we work in-academics, K12, English learning, teaching etc, – we are engaged in building capacity and in creating new opportunities. We are engaged in helping India build its capacity in world class content, pedagogical intervention and creating more jobs by creating new solutions for skill building at the basic level. This is how Cambridge University Press plans to go forward and it is very exciting.
Several global IT and education solution firms are eyeing opportunities in India. ‘Digital India’ programme is very encouraging and empowers India. So can we support and complement the whole initiative? Yes, we are equipped to help India to realise it.
What does Digital India mean to you? It means democratising basic needs for every Indian. It solves the problem of a student in a village in Bihar or Kerala or Nagaland who aspires to be part of growing India and dream to study in Cambridge University. Why should he not? If Digital India is disseminated and executed as envisioned by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is a great way forward for India and change the way India looks from the next decade.
Do you see any roadblocks in Digital India implementation? Execution is the key. It needs to have consistency. It should not be caught in Centre-state issues. Then, we are talking about higher storages, building broadband, rich content. How do we build that kind of massive infrastructure unless you don’t take global players together who have been engaged over the years in such interventions? It will be very difficult.
Is momentum building up among corporates to contribute to Digital India? Absolutely, it is nice to see people talking about a mix of books with digital resources. It is a very welcome change. It is the right moment. Digital India has been launched at a time when it has maximum reason to be a great success.
But digital solutions are costly and targets private institutions. It could be true of large technology companies. But CUP is pervasive and we are there in schools, colleges and universities across the country.
Since you interact with many educators, tell us what is hampering adoption of digital solutions in schools and colleges? It is too early to make that statement if they are resisting any change. They are positive about it. But there are peripheral issues. For the first time, Government of India is talking about the bandwidth being built to connect colleges and universities. That is a basic infrastructure issue. Then the debate is over the device and content and how the device should be in terms of consumption. There is a huge amount of learning which needs to be done. What is important is creating an enabling environment rather than pushing people.