Self-reliance entails setting up a strong domestic base even while accessing global technologies, and it shouldn't be viewed as protectionism, Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani said on Friday. Nilekani, who architected the Aadhaar programme, also said there is a growing awareness around data privacy and its various nuances.
"I think all countries are talking about increasing self-reliance, but I don't think it means protectionism as such. It means having a strong base as well as accessing global technology and global products," he said at the PAFI First Annual Lecture. He noted that India today continues to be a major consumer of global technology and products, including chips and equipment.
Asked about his views on data privacy, he said while it is a contentious issue, there is lot of awareness now on the subject. He emphasised that striking a fine balance between protecting individual's data and harnessing the full potential of 'Big Data' would be the key. "The challenge is always to find a balance because obviously we want to protect individual's interests. At the same time, the Big Data that is getting generated has huge potential to change life for the better. So it's always about finding that balance," he said.
Nilekani also noted that companies operating in different countries need to play an active role in the local market. "You have to be an active local player in every market that you operate. You need to have a strategy, an articulation of partnership with the country and make sure that what you do in that country, reflects the priorities of that country…You have to localise," he added.
Nilekani cited the example of Infosys that has announced plans of hiring 13,000 people in the US, taking its total commitment to about 25,000 people in five-six year timeframe. "That has dramatically changed perceptions in support. We have centres in six cities in Raleigh, North Carolina, Connecticut, in Indianapolis, and in each city, the local state government, the governor are the biggest supporters of Infosys…if we show intent to do something locally in terms of creating jobs, and contributing to the economy, then people welcome you anywhere in the world," he said.
Nilekani added that how globalisation actually benefits societies and people needs to be shown.