Mumbai: Days after terming the protectionist bent of the Donald Trump regime as a “blessing in disguise”, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani on Saturday said it’s “high time” India promoted reverse brain-drain wherein its brightest talent come back and serve the homeland.
“It’s high time that our brightest and the best work for the benefit of India and Indians,” Ambani said. When asked whether he sees a reverse brain-drain, he quipped “without doubt”. “By whatever fate they are brought back to this country, they can help improve the lives of 1.3 billion citizens and put together a new developmental model...there cannot be a better blessing in disguise than that,” Ambani told the India Today conclave in Mumbai.
Ambani said, of late, RIL is getting many Indians who have held leadership roles in other countries in the past. RIL is getting at least two-three such talent every month, he said. “We have more talent knocking at our doors because at the end of the day, ‘har ek ka dil hain Hindustani’. People want to do things for India,” he said.
Addressing the annual Nasscom summit in Mumbai last month, Ambani had said the Trump administration’s protectionist policies like limiting the number of H1B visas, could prove to be a blessing in disguise for the country.
Ambani also said there is a need to retain data generated domestically within the country rather than let it to go out and urged the government to start a ‘Keep in India’ initiative for this. “Keeping our data onshore will ensure that talent, technology, know-how and investments will flow into the country rather than flow out, and will create more jobs for us. Like the ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’ campaigns, we need a ‘Keep in India’ initiative to keep our data within our shores,” Ambani said.
“Apart from obvious national security and sovereignty conditions, pragmatic economic considerations also call for such safeguards,” he told the India Today Conclave. Ambani, whose latest venture includes an over Rs1.30 trillion investment to create one of the biggest telcos with a focus on faster broadband access, said data and information are the “power tools” in the digital age and it can also travel across the world at a fraction of a second and at negligible cost.
The remarks come within a month of Ambani describing ‘data as the new oil’ and amid a growing unease in various circles about using data for furthering commercial interests by corporates.
Ambani said his telecom service Reliance Jio is aiming to cover 99% of the population by end of the year and announced an initiative to connect educational institutions over the next two years. Terming job creation as a challenge, Ambani said Reliance Jio will be connecting 58,000 colleges and 1.9 million schools, which will seek to empower 200 million students with broadband access in the next two years. He said the addition of 100 million subscribers in 170 days by Reliance Jio has already made the country the largest data consumer in the world, ahead of the US and China.
The swift on-boarding of subscribers was the fastest by a company the world has ever seen, Ambani said and claimed that it was faster than customer accretion by even Facebook and Skype.
Ambani on Saturday said we are fortunate to be an open market with a leader who understands technology. He recalled how Prime Minister Narendra Modi spent an entire dinner meeting with the last American president Barack Obama discussing how technology could resolve many of the problems the world is seeped in.
The recent note-ban exercise will lead to greater proliferation of digitalisation and take the country from a cash-based economy to a “cash optimal” one, he said. He also said we should aim to be the largest economy when we celebrate the first century of our Independence in 2047, with a GDP of over $40 trillion from the current $2 trillion plus. Ambani said execution is the key challenge and added that technology will help us overcome the bureaucratic obstacles.