Infosys co-founder and Aadhaar architect Nandan Nilekani lauded the Indian Government in the way it has handled the COVID-19 pandemic so far, particularly the digital platform it has built to ensure a smooth rollout of vaccination.
"The fact that India is proving to be the vaccine capital of the world is good. The digital infrastructure, CoWin, developed by RS Sharma is amazing. My friend in Seattle got his vaccination certificate scribbled on a piece of paper. My vaccination certificate was digitally sent and was QR coded, I got it on my phone within 2 minutes of my vaccination. All this has given us a big burst of self-confidence," Nilekani said. He was speaking at a Clubhouse session organised by Blume Ventures and was in conversation with angel investor Balaji Srinivasan and Blume's Karthik Reddy.
Talking about his journey from a software czar to a technocrat who played a central role in building India's digital rails, Nilekani said the most crucial trait a technocrat needs to have is the ability to build consensus. "In 2009, I just started my stint at the UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) and had a lot of dreams about creating public digital infrastructure for a billion people. I was given a completely free hand and worked like a startup within the Government, except I had no stock options."
While Nilekani built the UID project under the UPA Government, the NDA Government under PM Modi, earlier opposed to Aadhaar, ended up adopting it in a huge way."I met the Prime Minister (Modi) on July 1st, 2014. He is very, very sharp, attentive and understands technology. He and his government are now the biggest supporters of Aadhaar, while the party that supported me then is now opposing it. So, one needs to focus on making sure ideas are compelling enough to overcome political differences. America is much more polarised and has receded from the public sector, whereas India has chosen to build", he said.