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India stands at the cusp of major formalization, with the vast majority of the unorganized segment getting formalized. A lot of this change is becoming possible now because of digitization led by the adoption of smartphones and reduction in data cost.

However, because of the language barrier and discomfort with the use of the digital medium, the vast majority of the country’s population is still to realize the full potential of digitization. A report by the Digital Empowerment Foundation indicates that 30% of India’s population lags on basic literacy and thrice that for digital literacy. Most startups have tried to address the problem of digital literacy through vernacularization of content or by redesigning the operating systems in the local language.

Still, a lot of people have not been able to adopt such technologies, as either they find them cumbersome to use or are still not comfortable in reading even in their local language. Further, the large number of languages in a country like India poses another challenge in creating solutions that can work at scale.

We are also starting to see that technologies such as voice have started evolving. The benefit of voice is that it transcends the boundaries of literacy and could be used by anyone who is able to converse.

At Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund, we believe that there is a need to rethink the way user interfaces are being designed today. We foresee a future where user interfaces could be completely voice-based with little or no text. This would help drive the adoption of technologies among not just the next billion but also the last billion population. These technologies have the potential to become so much easier to use that it becomes commonplace for everyone.

Saras Agarwal is Principal, Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund

Reverse Pitch is like a normal investors pitch, but with the roles reversed. That means the startup doesn’t present its business to investors, but investors and companies pitch their business concept, challenges and the like to startups.

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