Tech innovation key to soft power: Tharoor

Last Updated 23 October 2013, 18:30 IST

Harping on a favourite theme of his in recent times, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor said that India has the potential to emerge as a “soft power” through technology-driven innovation and its inherent cultural strength.

Speaking at the STPI Exports Awards function in Bangalore on Wednesday, Tharoor said soft power in a country lies in its ability to attract and co-opt rather than coerce other countries, societies and individuals into its way of thinking, because of its culture, political values and foreign policies.

“The Beijing Olympics were an exercise in Chinese soft power. Americans have the Voice of America and the Fulbright scholarships. But, the fact is that probably Hollywood, Coke, Levi’s jeans, MTV and McDonalds have done more for American soft power around the world than any specifically government activity. India has the same potential to wield soft power in technology services and through its proven frugal innovation capabilities,” Tharoor said.

Tharoor presented to the STPI awards to various Karnataka-based IT companies for their exemplary IT software export performance. Among others, Incap Contract Manufacturing Systems of Tumkur won the award for highest growth in electronic hardware exports in the below Rs 100 crore category, while GE Medical Systems won the award for the Rs 100 crore plus category.

Cognizant Technology Solutions won the STPI award for being the highest job creator in the IT field, with WNS Global winning the award for creating the highest number of BPO jobs.

Congratulating the winners of the STPI IT Exports Awards, Tharoor said that they have clearly displayed India’s national prowess in this sector. “It also showcases Bangalore’s and Karnataka’s premier position on the IT map of India and the world,” Tharoor said,
Karnataka Minister for Information Technology, Biotechnology, Science and Technology, Planning and Statistics S R Patil, Secretary, Department of IT, BT and S&T Srivatsa Krishna and and Director General, Software Technology Parks of India, Omkar Rai were among those present at the awards function.

He said that while the role of technology in human evolution has always been significant throughout human history, the 21st century sees us more dependent on technology than ever before. “I would hugely disagree with the Swiss writer and playwright Max Frisch who had said that technology is the ‘knack of arranging the world so we need not experience it’.

Being a writer, but wearing a politician’s hat, I would not share Frisch’s perspective. Technology has enabled us to engage more intensely and deeply with the world around us. And, it is a very humbling experience indeed,” Tharoor said.

(Published 23 October 2013, 18:26 IST)

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