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China led mfg, India will lead digital society: Mukesh Ambani

I believe, collectively, as a human race, we can progress much more by being interconnected and inter-dependent.Therefore, I believe we need uniform global standards, so that cross-border transactions, collaborations and partnerships are not hampered:RIL chief

India will lead this transition from fossil fuels to Green and Clean Energy: Mukesh Ambani

India will lead this transition from fossil fuels to Green and Clean Energy: Mukesh Ambani

How do you view the world's transition towards digitalisation? How is that set to impact the holistic development of India on the economic and social fronts?

In my own lifetime, I have seen four technology transitions, each one more transformative than the previous one in the technology era.

The first was the transition from the mainframe computer to where computers were used only by a few people to where computers were being used by thousands of people.

The second was the transition from this basic computer revolution - where there were client servers, mainframes that industry started using - to the ICT revolution. This is when mobile phones and the internet came into being as two separate developments. And all of us in recent times - some of us who are old understand the dotcom in the 1990s, and we have witnessed that.

The third was a transition from mobile and computer, both converging into the digital revolution, when internet came into force. This is when mobile and the internet got merged. As a result, the number of users grew exponentially, and everything became data-driven.

Now we are witnessing the fourth transition - from the digital revolution, where billions of people across the world use digital technology, to the digital first revolution – where digital becomes the first way of life for all seven billion people today. This will bring transformation that will connect all physical things. This has happened primarily because of the advent of real exponential growth in connectivity technologies, computing technologies; and we have next generation silicon chips. So, five or six technologies are converging at the same time, which I think will transform the world, and what we will see in next 20 years is what we have not seen in last 100 years. And I believe like any transformation, this transformation will take place across geographies and across social classes.

But since the speed of transition is so breath-taking, I have no doubt that we are on the verge of building a digital society. And I believe like China led manufacturing, India will lead the digital society and become a global leader in its own right.

Whether you are building an airport or a township, whether you are manufacturing a car or something in consumer electronics, it is today possible to design it end-to-end first in the digital space, test it as per all possible parameters, and then translate it into reality.What it achieves in terms of project execution is unprecedented velocity, quality, reliability, efficiency, customisation, and customer satisfaction.

There will also be drastic cost reduction and drastic reduction in waste resource opportunity in the coming years.Reduction in resource wastage is especially important because it will mean care for the planet.

Energy systems are also being digitised, data-driven and AI-enabled.The transition to energy saving, decarbonisation and clean and green energy is happening at an astonishing pace.We will therefore be seeing something unbelievable in the near future.

There will be tremendous value creation in the virtual world, just as there is value creation in the physical world.For example, people will begin to buy, sell and use virtual real estate.Ideas and innovations will become more valuable than how much physical and financial capital an entrepreneur has.Therefore, the coming digital first revolution is going to make our world - and make India - more inclusively prosperous than we can now imagine.

I can say with absolute confidence that the digital first world will be a more equal world, without the traditional and unacceptable disparities and deprivations we see in our societies at present.

The digital first world will be a people-first world. No one will be last, and no human being will be left behind.The digital first world will also be a planet-first world.Care for the Planet and care for the People - these two mantras will guide the technological transformation of the world in the 21st century.

I think India has actually been an immense innovator in creating public digital goods – such as Aadhar, UPI and now ONDC, NDHM and so on. As a passionate business leader in this process of digital transition, where you and your company have played such a seminal role, could you share your views and vision for this next generation of digital infrastructure?

Jio has ensured affordable high-speed data connectivity, which is a prerequisite for the digital revolution. Today, our entire country is fully transitioning from the 2G era to the 4G era. We are in the process of creating an equally affordable ecosystem of devices to enable greater adoption, supported by faster rollout of optic fibre, cloud, and data centre infrastructure.The next step will be connectivity of machines, devices and vehicles, which is the Internet of Things or IoT. This will involve many components like different kinds of sensors, smart devices, edge computing, cloud computing and AI.With 5G rollout next year in India, we are well on our way to have one of the most advanced infrastructures in the world. As these underlying technologies mature, we will be able to reinvent all sectors of our economy digitally – whether it is financial services, commerce, manufacturing, agriculture, education or healthcare.

Most importantly, in addition to fintech, the grassroots sectors such as agriculture, education and healthcare will transform to become more efficient, more affordable and more accessible to all Indians, thanks to the digital technologies.So, in this India will make great strides in fintech, healthtechand industry 4.0.Digital technology is a great leveller, a great democratiser.It is the greatest gift to humanity.

The ubiquitous digitisation, the creation of high-quality public and private infrastructures, the boundary-less world we are going into – which digital in nature – creates a sense of balance requirement. Both data and digital have strategic national importance which each country would want to protect, and for the right reasons. How do we balance the protection of national interest and take advantage of the global transfer of ideas and solutions?

Both data and digital infrastructure are strategically important not only for India but for every other nation and the entire world.All seven billion of us are in it together, as we have seen all the multiple phases of Covid that we have gone through in last two years.

Every country has the right to build and protect its own strategic digital infrastructure. However, this revolution is inherently global. It has made the entire world more inter-connected and inter-dependent than ever before.

I believe, collectively, as a human race, we can progress much more by being interconnected and inter-dependent.Therefore, I believe we need uniform global standards, so that cross-border transactions, collaborations and partnerships are not hampered.

India can lead the way to a uniform UPI or a uniform payment interface. India's Aadhaar can lead the way to a uniform Aadhaar for all the seven billion people, so that every person on this earth is uniquely identified and India leads the way, and that's the opportunity. Third, every citizen's right to privacy has to be safeguarded.

Therefore, we have to work to have the right policies and the right regulatory framework to balance the imperatives of creating next generation infrastructure, harmonising and integrating it with the rest of the world and regulating in a way that we don't stifle innovation but protect the end user and all the citizens of the country and the world. And again, I have to say India is putting the most forward-looking policies and regulation in place. As you said, India has Aadhaar, Jan Dhan Accounts, and our UPI interface. We are on the verge of introducing a data privacy bill, which I look forward to, and also the crypto currency bill. So, I think we are on the right track, and what impresses me the most is that as a society we are most proactive, open and vibrant. As a democracy, we can really be at par with the most developed economies in terms of our thinking and benefits to all our citizens. And India is well on its way to transform itself into a leading digital society, having put the infrastructure in place, having put the regulatory framework in place.

Armed with these two enablers, India's young and super-talented entrepreneurs are now ready to fly. I believe, we can achieve much faster economic growth, progress and prosperity for all our people and contribute to the rest of the world.

We have seen that despite the difficult times through Covid, the acceleration of digitisation and the convergence of finance, retail and logistics and e-commerce. We talked about crypto, we talked about Web 3.0, the metaverse and the boundary-less global world. What will be the next convergence which will propel the growth of fintech?

In my view, finance really is at the heart of everything. And we have not digitised finance to its full potential. I believe we are in very early stages of sporadic digitization. And the opportunity as I see all these technologies emerging is the opportunity to make sure that we actually adopt a decentralised model of finance. We have evolved over the last 100 years in organised finance through a very centralised model. and I still believe that there will be centralised government and central bank policy, but there will be a path to a very decentralised technological solutions where finance will be enabled and available to everybody. Today it still is a world where large companies get easier finance and small companies don't get easier finance, and same thing with people, and I think that will change. As I see, real-time technologies are there. It is great that we have moved from T+7 to T+2 and T+1, but I am big believer in real time. So everything will settle in real time. Smart contracts will become real, blockchain is a technology I believe in and it's different from crypto. I think smart token is making sure that you are creating transactions that can never be changed. It is a very important framework for just and trust-based transaction and trust-based society, which is a prerequisite for all of us. I think that the convergence of real time, the convergence of the distributed ledger and blockchain technologies, smart tokens, the convergence of physical and digital through IoT will enable and redefine the decentralised financial sector in a way we have never imagined. I think it is happening in the coming 10 years, and again this will be a prerequisite to a great economic growth. Today there is more money chasing people and we are short of ideas, and I am sure all our young people will come with up with more and more ideas as there are still many problems to be solved in the world.

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