Rohit Malekar

May 21, 2021

Three Revelations During the Pandemic

In some corner of my mind, I knew these conditions existed, but the deeper I dug, the more I have realized these as massive personal blind spots.

1. Skewed focus of "digital" India

Digital technology in India is heavily biased to address first-world problems of the  highest urban earners. At a maximum, this is 10% of the population. Part of the reason I left the U.S. was to avoid raising kids in a bubble, only to discover we have many of our own here.

10% for whom most of the consumer technology caters to holds 75% of the nation's wealth. There are few attempting to address the quality of education for the masses where 9 out of 10 children in government schools are from marginalized communities. 65% of them are anemic, however, these problems would not come under the purview of the traditional VC investments, since it may never offer them the returns they seek. The pandemic is only going to worsen these metrics.

Further Reading: Section 2.2 A two-track consumer market in The Indus Valley Playbook by Sajith Pai

2. The massive lag between policy and tech adoption

So long as policy lags technology, we will be chasing our own tail recovering from letting technology do its own thing. For the world of the future, we need cross-disciplinary leaders in business and politics who can blend sociology, economics, and technology to lead the conversation of how technology should evolve to play a meaningful role in our lives before it does its own thing.

For this, we need the education that prepares students for jobs that would be relevant 15 years from now, not for the jobs of today. On the other hand, the term “Ed Tech” feels like an oxymoron in India, an attempt to change the cover of a book when the book itself needs a replacement. Most technology-first solutions attempting to revamp education in India are primarily using the scale, speed, and standardization of technology to accelerate the adoption of an outdated educational experience.

3. Systemic deep-rooted issues in healthcare

Healthcare in India is suffering from deep-rooted issues layered in crumbling infrastructure, misinformed policies, and cultural prejudices. Relying only on some design framework or digital tech to fix these issues is like trying to steer the Titanic with paddles. I look at the quality of education and healthcare as leading indicators or metrics for our society. They both affect our future trajectories by having a direct impact on our children. 

A lot is at stake on effective execution of AB-PMJAY (Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana), on paper touted to be the largest government-funded healthcare scheme in the world, to elevate the well-being and health of the most vulnerable in our societies.