Pushing the Boundaries of Indian Tech: Women on the Frontlines | ORF

Technology is an integral a part of India’s socio-economic progress story. The nation homes the third largest startup ecosystem on this planet, after the US and China. Over 50,000 startups have created north of US$500 billion in worth during the last decade[1]. Technology has powered this trajectory, significantly with the event of the multilayered know-how community IndiaStack, which has led to unprecedented monetary and digital inclusion. India is witnessing two pivotal women-centric phenomena presently — one, there’s an unparalleled inclusion of ladies within the Indian economic system, boosted by know-how platforms; and two, girls are more and more pushing the boundaries of know-how growth. This Global Policy-ORF report on ‘Women on the Frontlines’ showcases the latter.

When India’s Mangalyaan mission was launched a number of years in the past, the long-lasting picture that captured thousands and thousands of hearts was that of the scientists behind the achievement — a bunch of ladies, in saris with flowers of their hair, celebrating the launch. This is emblematic of many ladies in science and know-how at the moment, significantly in India — they’re pushing the boundaries of their respective fields, however usually from behind the scenes. It is worthy to notice that Indian girls enter STEM fields in far higher numbers than in peer nations. Women now make up 34 p.c of the IT workforce in India. We are additionally at 50:50 gender parity price in STEM graduates[2]. This is way increased than in Europe (18 p.c) and the US (about 25 p.c)[3]. India’s increased schooling system additionally displays this directional motion; final yr for the primary time, girls’s gross enrolment ratio (26.4) exceeded that of males (26.3)[4]. Indian girls are rising with clear aspirations.

This report goals to showcase girls on the frontlines of know-how growth and deployment and to focus on each their skilled achievements and their particular person tales. We first meet 4 trailblazers, who began working in know-how when it was a comparatively new discipline in India and, in a time that was far much less welcoming to girls. We then showcase the leaders of tomorrow, girls who began their journeys extra not too long ago however are already seeing success throughout a variety of ventures.

The contribution of the trailblazers has been invaluable in constructing India’s tech ecosystem. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, founder, chairperson and managing director of Biocon Ltd. and considered one of India’s few self-made girls billionaires, has fearlessly steered her firm into a worldwide pioneer within the biopharmaceutical house. Nivruti Rai, nation head of Intel India, has risen by means of the ranks of one of many world’s foremost know-how corporations and brings her multi-dimensional product expertise to pushing the boundaries of Indian analysis and growth. Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology (Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India), straddles the crucial juncture of science and governance and has been essential in organising a pipeline of early-stage highrisk scientific growth ventures within the nation. Vani Kola, founder and managing director of Kalaari Capital, has pioneered the position and deployment of early-stage danger capital within the growth of indigenous applied sciences. These trailblazers are position fashions to the thousands and thousands who’ve been impressed to observe them into numerous know-how fields.

Our ‘Leaders of Tomorrow’ part options girls who’ve based and constructed corporations on the cutting-edge of know-how throughout a variety of segments — finance, knowledge analytics, media, scientific innovation and schooling. They have introduced technical and administration experience to bear on a variety of issues, utilizing both digital platforms or deep know-how for his or her progress and worth proposition.

In the sphere of monetary know-how, India has emerged a frontrunner of innovation. The entrepreneurs who’ve contributed to the ‘Financial Technology’ part have all developed proprietary fintech platforms to resolve particular market gaps. Mabel Chacko and Deena Jacob from Open, the world’s largest SME-focused neo-banking platform, assist over 500,000 small enterprises resolve challenges in accessing and managing funds. Jayalakshmi Manohar, of Streak, brings cutting-edge know-how to the common retail investor, earlier obtainable solely to giant institutional buyers. Chaitra Chidanand, previously of Simpl, created a platform to offer non permanent credit score to customers conducting purchases with cutting-edge machine studying know-how to handle credit score dangers. A standard theme with our 4 options is the usage of know-how to help beforehand underserved teams.

Our ‘Data Platforms at the Edge’ part options three girls who’re harnessing the infinite potential of knowledge platforms. Infibeam, co-founded by Neeru Sharma, makes use of knowledge platforms throughout a variety of providers together with on-line retailing, digital funds, e-commerce, software program and web providers. Neha Singh, of Tracxn, deploys knowledge intelligence and analysis at scale to assist enterprise capitalists and institutional buyers determine potential areas of funding. Ashwini Asokan, of Mad Street Den, is working to construct generalised synthetic intelligence at scale, with use instances throughout a variety of industries beginning with retail. An underlying theme on this part is the deployment of intensive tech platforms to develop sturdy worth propositions that handle quite a lot of market gaps.

Internet penetration has risen exponentially in India over the previous decade; the common Indian at the moment consumes 11GB of knowledge monthly[5]. This has basically modified the way in which Indians entry media, creating monumental challenges to the advertiser-based fashions of conventional media. Our ‘Media and Content’ part showcases entrepreneurs who’ve taken benefit of this pattern to construct thriving digital-only media platforms. Shradha Sharma of YourStory launched her platform to inform the tales of aspiring changemakers and entrepreneurs, with a definite lens on girls through the HerStory platform. Her focus, to an ideal extent, matches that of this sequence — she wished to offer a voice to rising stars whose achievements merited higher visibility. Aditi Shrivastava from Pocket Aces has basically altered India’s digital leisure house, with a mission of ‘alleviating boredom.’ These entrepreneurs use data-backed insights and digital platforms to connect with and create content material for his or her ever-growing audiences.

Our ‘Science at the Frontier’ options have been chosen with a robust give attention to sustainability. The innovation of the final century has introduced us the applied sciences of at the moment, but additionally threaten our planet. The COVID-19 disaster has demonstrated the delicate relationship between nature and humanity, and the excessive prices when this relationship loses balances. The greatest shift humanity might want to make within the coming many years is to scrub sources of power, and Sri Sailaja Nori and Sowmya Balendiran of Sea6 Energy are amongst these main this cost. Their firm makes use of micro-algae to create ethanol and pure fuel, lowering reliance on carbonintensive types of power. Ezhil Subbian’s String Bio creates alternate options to merchandise from biodegradable plastic to high-performance polymers for stents and sutures, creating round worth chains for natural waste, methane and plastic. Kavitha Sairam is founding father of FIB-SOL, an organization that gives options to 2 areas which might be ripe for disruption — agriculture and well being. Their nanofibre functions assist fertilise giant tracts of farmland with small portions of fertiliser, with out degrading soil high quality.

Our final phase appears at ‘Education Technology,’ which has gained a substantial quantity of consideration as kids are pressured to check remotely throughout the pandemic induced lockdowns. BYJU’s, co-founded by Divya Gokulnath, has change into a family title because the world’s most extremely valued edtech firm. Their intention of creating kids fall in love with studying is especially related at the moment as we hurtle in direction of an unsure future of labor. Priyanka Subramanian, of Uable, focuses on the 6-14 age group, one of many first generations on this planet born as digital natives. While on-line studying can usually be a lonely expertise, they meet this problem by means of peer studying environments to make sure each learner discovers and develops their potential. Charu Noheria, of Practically, works to make use of on-line platforms to ship experiential studying. They use new applied sciences like simulations in addition to augmented and digital actuality to offer interactive experiences, efficiently bridging the hole between digital and real-life studying. High-quality, reasonably priced and accessible schooling will stay crucial even after the pandemic, to make sure that India’s younger inhabitants, the most important on this planet, is supplied to enter the workforce as productive members of society. These three entrepreneurs are redefining the way in which our youth is educated.

Our main thought, as we put this report into the world, is how inspiring it has been to learn the tales of those unbelievable girls and the work they’ve executed. While now we have simply scratched the floor, we hope this number of essays and conversations will present a view into the myriad options know-how has to supply in quite a lot of fields, and the good girls who’ve taken transformational steps on this route.

Table of Contents


[1] Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
[4] TV Mohandas Pai, “Rise of the Indian Woman: Historical Shift in Higher Education”, The Financial Express, October 18, 2019.
[5] “Indians on Average Consume over 11GB Data per Month: Report”, Mint, February 27, 2020.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here