After Hon’ble PM launched Technology Vision 2035 on the morning of Jan 3, 2016 (See my blog Making and Launching of Technology Vision 2035), our focus shifted to its impact on the future of India. In that blog, I mentioned that “In the very first meeting on TV2035, I emphasized the importance of being able to communicate the document among citizens at large and policymakers, in particular. I mentioned multiple means of communication that are relevant today: (1) Print Media (2) Electronic Media (3) Social Media (4) the Internet (5) Workshops etc. Each one of these needed their own way of providing information from the document.”
Branding TIFAC as a “Think Tank”
One of the things on my mind from the time I joined TIFAC on April 25, 2013, was to establish it as “India’s Technology Think Tank”. I had used this as a tagline on websites and newsletters etc as well. The draft foreword sent to PMO also mentioned explicitly TIFAC to be India’s Technology Think Tank. I was not sure if PMO would edit it out but I took a chance. However as luck would have it, PMO did not consider it out of place and it remained as it is. See the image below:
Due to this, the media also started referring to TIFAC as a “Technology Think Tank” and a larger number of news items were published covering TV2035.
Coverage in Media was going to play an important role in the acceptance of the document among the public at large and policymakers in particular. Since the launch itself was done in a very unceremonious way, we were not sure how much media attention this document would get.
As luck would have it, at that time there was a lot of discussion going on about “religious tolerance”. Many awardees were returning the awards given to them as a protest (Link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_writers_protest_against_government_silence_on_violence).
On Jan 4, 2016, A news item was published in Indian Express authored by Richa Sharma (I later met her at an event). The headline was “Modi’s Technology Vision 2035 Document Emphasizes on Religious Tolerance”. Given the situation prevailing at that time, all journalists suddenly got curious about this “Modi’s Document”. That made them cover this document in a much bigger way than we had expected.
Post Release Activities
After the release of the TV2035 Main vision document, our focus shifted to :
- Creating awareness among policymakers
- Working with the various state govt to prepare their action plan to achieve this vision
- Using different means of communication to reach out to the general public including social media
- Monitoring the progress of the country toward the realization of TV2035
We made a conscious decision to not get into action mode by trying to move toward the realization of the vision. After the release of Technology Vision 2020 in 1996, TIFAC did get into action mode by initiating the Mission 2020 plan and funding various activities across different sectors.
Release of Road maps being prepared in 12 different sectors that were under preparation(Out of these Six were released by April 2018):
- Education(Released in Nov 2017 at Pune)
- Medical Sciences & Health Care(Released in Sept 2016 at Hyderabad)
- Food and Agriculture
- Transportation(Released in Dec 2016 at Pune)
- Materials(Released in July 2016 at Kolkata)
- Manufacturing(Released in Aug 2016 at Coimbatore)
- Information & Communication Technology(Released in Sept 2016 at Bangalore)
Impact: Grand Challenges
As part of the document, we identified 10 grand challenges for the country: A couple of them were
Grand Challenge 1: Guaranteeing nutritional security and eliminating female and child anaemia
Based on Grand Challenge 1, Govt of India started two major programs:(1) Anemia Mukt Bharat(https://anemiamuktbharat.info/) and (2) Nutrition India (https://www.nutritionindia.info/)
Grand Challenge 7: Taking the railway to Leh and Tawang
Based on this challenge, projects to start trains to both Leh and Tawang were started. In addition, two more rail tracks in Arunachal Pradesh were initiated – (1) Bhalukpong-Tenga-Tawang (378 km), (2) North Lakhimpur- Bame-Aalo-Silapathar (247.85 km), and (3) Pasighat-Tezu-Parasuram Kund-Rupai (227 km). These were announced by the MoS for railways Manoj Sinha and the MoS for home Kiren Rijiju at Naharlagun Railway Station in 2017.
Impact: Retrospection of Technology Vision 2020
In the retrospection section, the “Walking India” column highlighted those sectors, where India had made poor progress since the release of the Technology Vision 2020 document in 1996. As shown below, these included (1) Healthcare (2) Advanced Sensors (3) Waterways
As part of TV2035, we carried out a retrospection of the TV2020 document to compare India’s progress with respect to the vision that was laid out in 1996. The document had put a lot of focus on waterways with the expectation that about 8-9% of passenger and goods traffic would happen through waterways. However, the progress in this respect was very slow and was highlighted in the retrospection section.
Waterways development picked up the pace and by 2018, 13 of these waterways were operational.
A few months ago, a piece of interesting news came that a ship moved across National Waterways-1 (NW-1) and crossed over to NW-2 to deliver goods from Patna to Assam!
Among the other areas of concern was the healthcare sector which was highlighted in the retrospection section. Data for three parameters were shown in his – Average life expectancy, Infant mortality rate, and Maternal mortality rate. We look at each of these to see how well we are doing and has there have been improvements that can assure us of reaching the targets by 2035.
“While we have come a long way since Independence in achieving an average life expectancy of 69 years, this would have to be pushed upwards to 80 years at birth. Likewise, there is a significant reduction in maternal mortality rate and under-5 mortality rate in the country. We can therefore now raise the bar and achieve a maternal mortality rate better than 15 per 100,000 and U-5 mortality rate better than 6 per 1,000 live births.”
As per data provided by UN and plotted at https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/IND/india/life-expectancy, While we would like our average life expectancy to be 80 years by 2035, progress has been slow and unless we take drastic measures, we do not see the hope of achieving this target.
Infant Mortality Rate
If we look at the Infant mortality rate(IFR) per 1000 live births, the target has been set to be 6 by 2035, however, with the current trend, we see it reaching between 12-14 only by that time. Again steps need to be taken to make drastic improvements in this to achieve the target.
Maternal Mortality Rate
We had set a target of 15 per 100000 for Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) by 2035. Recently(Nov 30, 2022), Govt of India claimed a significant drop in MMR over the last few years. Here is the press report:
Significant Decline in the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) from 130 in 2014-16 to 97 per lakh live births in 2018-20: Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya
As compared to TV2035, National Health Policy and SDG have kept a much less ambitious goal of 100 and 70(by 2030) respectively. There seems to be some difference in data being reported from different sources. I have taken data from the years 2000 to 2017 from macrotrends.net and extrapolated it to 2035. The chart below shows that we would be reaching around 54 per 100,000 MMR by 2035 much higher than the target of 15! Here also we need to take drastic steps to achieve the target!
if we look at the statewide statistics of MMR, it clearly tells us where we need to focus more to achieve better results:
The study of the impact of the Technology Vision 2035 document is an ongoing process and based on this mid-course correction in strategy is important for the country to move ahead. We have seen good action and progress in certain areas e.g. Waterways. However healthcare sector is still lagging and going by the current trend, we would not achieve the targets set by TV2035. Frequently, authorities responsible for these set a lower target for themselves that does not require a major effort!