2020 is a year that has captured imaginations with its promise of being near enough to set achievable targets yet distant enough to envision transformation. As 2019 draws to a close, Mint invites thought leaders to share their vision for the decade ahead. RPG Group chairman Harsh Goenka talks to Mint about five ideas that will impact the way we live in the future.

Ed-tech initiatives to change schooling

We produce some of the brightest engineers, doctors and scientists, but a vast majority of India lacks access to quality education. There is pressure to score marks, leaving little scope for analysis and application. One of the biggest challenges at the grassroots level is motivating children to go to school as rote learning is not exciting. A judicious mix of practical, on-ground programmes and ed-tech initiatives can change this.

Tech for accessible healthcare

Government hospitals are stretched to capacity, and few patients can afford private care. In rural areas, front-line workers discharge responsibilities in difficult conditions with little support. Innovation and technology show the way. One innovation that comes to mind is SanketLife, a card-sized, mobile ECG machine, which makes ECG affordable for everyone. We need many more such innovations.

More infra to move people faster

Urbanization has been rapid. Going by the 2011 census, 53 cities have a population of over a million. In the US, highways transformed the economy; in China, it was ports. India has seen a three-fold hike in infrastructure lending since 2014, but the question of how we move ahead remains. Perhaps high-speed rail and tunnels, like the ones Elon Musk’s Boring Co. is building, are the way forward.

Swipe right for efficiency

The public sector has been a catalyst for rapid digitization. The government has made the effort to enrol over 1.2 billion people on Aadhaar. Banking is now on virtual platforms and fund transfers happen by just swiping a phone screen. We have seen that a thrust on technology can increase efficiencies, open doors to low-cost innovation, and usher in greater transparency. It’s a march we must continue.

Innovation for quality of life

To decongest cities and increase efficiency, smart cities are the answer. Accessible government data, transparency in budgeting and performance, and a strong social media presence can help city administrations craft relationships with citizens. An example is the vision for AURIC (Aurangabad Industrial City), a planned industrial city. The idea of 100 smart cities is path-breaking.

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