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How data science technology can help achieve economic goals of Modi Govt?

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By Shailesh Dhuri

The Modi Government has an enviable and enormous challenge of fulfilling aspirations which fueled the unprecedented mandate for Modi 2.0. The aspirations relate to quantity and quality of jobs, access to quality education and healthcare, access to basic and aspirational goods at reasonable costs throughout the country.

Fortunately, modern technology, especially data sciences can be wisely deployed to ensure effective and efficient governance. This article will not attempt to define data science. However, we will attempt to see how data science can be deployed in a non-intruding manner to change the behaviour of citizens, bureaucrats and service providers in the desired direction and at a desired pace. The best recent examples of such non-intruding application of advance data science techniques is Amazon and Netflix where the data is used to further commercial goals of the respective organisations.

India is a vast and diverse country, and many a times this vastness and diversity is blamed for slow economic and human progress. However, vastness and diversity means higher variance and lower correlation, which is the holy grail of a data scientist. The magic of data science works best when the underlying processes have high variance and low correlation. For example, those who are aware, in financial portfolio construction, the attempt is always to find securities concurrently having these two features.

Let me explain with concrete examples of how India’s vastness and diversity can be used by data science techniques to propel the economic growth and/or human wellbeing. Let us take the example of healthcare – a topic close to the heart of Prime Minister Modi. One of the key indicator of healthcare is infant mortality. On the indicator of infant mortality, the outcomes within India are vast. On one end, we have some states in India which has infant mortality rates close to those in the USA, and in fact better than those experienced by blacks in the USA; some other states experience unacceptably high infant mortalities. Data analytics techniques, combined with real time data visualisation, automated comparative checklists, automated comparative root cause analysis using Bayesian techniques, using now ubiquitous and cheap broadband connectivity, among various health care facilities in India will help the care givers to benchmark themselves to the top Indian care givers operating within India itself.

If the care givers and administrator are forced to compare themselves to their peers on hourly, daily and weekly basis based on their differing circumstances, checklists and outcomes, the best practices from states like Goa can and will quickly transmit to areas which are poorly performing. What’s more significant is that, this transmission of best practices will be quick – within a few quarters, and without additional costs of layers of administration. Proper application of these techniques can enable India achieve many healthcare parameters as comparable to the developed world as possible within a few short quarters.

The techniques I have described in above paragraph using the example of infant mortality can be applied in the areas of education, project monitoring, farm best practices, SME skills benchmarking and many such other areas, where the diversity of current outcomes in vast.

Another example where data science can be deployed is in scenario generation at the time of land acquisition for important projects. Based on the effect of past projects on the livelihood of the displaced, an effective scenario generation tool can be developed which will, on the one hand, inform the policymakers of additional interventions needed to reduce the downside for the displaced people, and at the same time, by using effective data visualisation techniques an immersive digital experience can be built for the displaced people to viscerally feel how their lives will be transformed by the project. This will help in reducing the time taken for land acquisition, thus easing an important bottleneck for the progress of the country.

Prime Minister Modi has proven his penchant for adopting new technologies for advancing the cause of the country. Data sciences are one of the very important techniques available to India. The cost of deploying these techniques is relatively low as the youth of today’s India is educating themselves in these powerful techniques and many corporations acting on global scale are already using the skills of these Indian youths for their commercial successes. India has ready pool of well-honed and well-trained talent pool which can be tapped by the government for bettering the lives of ordinary Indians.

(The author is Mentor at Meghnad Desai Academy of Economics (MDAE) and Co-Founder at Decimal Point Analytics)

If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]


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