Satya Nadella unveils program helping semi-skilled poor

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made a strong case for using digital technologies to empower the common man and launched a slew of India-centric initiatives, including a platform to connect semi-skilled workers with employers as per reports here on February 22nd. The technology giant also launched a ‘lite’ version of its video interaction platform Skype.

“If digital technology is only the purview of the large businesses and the start-ups, I think that is not sufficient for an economy to make progress,” the Indian American executive said, speaking at a company event here. We can celebrate technology, but if it doesn’t truly empower every Indian and every Indian organization to achieve more…we would have achieved nothing,” he said.

The global giant introduced the ‘Sangam’ platform, which is based on the world’s largest professional networking site LinkedIn, also owned by the company, which will help semi-skilled workers get job opportunities.

“We now need to extend this (LinkedIn) to middle skill and low-skill (workers), (provide) vocational training for job opportunities for everyone,” he said, adding that sectors like hospitality can benefit from it.

The platform will also work on helping people gain skills for the jobs which are getting created, he said, adding that it is yet to go public and is at the “private preview” stage.

Nadella also announced a new service on LinkedIn called ‘Placements’, which will help Indian college graduates land job opportunities in a “democratic” manner as per their skill sets, while pointing out that finding the right job is a “challenge” for graduates in India.

With bandwidth being a concern in India, the company also showcased ‘lite’ versions of LinkedIn as well as Skype, its video interaction service. LinkedIn has 39 million members in India and the new ‘lite’ platform can work even at 2G speeds, he said. Nadella was quite appreciative of the progress on Aadhaar, and said that ‘India Stack’ is driving a lot of innovation at Microsoft.

India Stack is a part of the ‘Digital India’ program aimed at treating information as a utility. Instead of having a top down approach, the government has launched an open application programming interface policy.

Skype’s ‘lite’ version, which is available in nine Indian languages, also has an Aadhaar identity tool built-in that can help businesses for purposes like background checks in applications for interviews.

Nadella said there have been improvements in the lives of people in the first digital village of Harisal in the malnutrition-prone Melghat region of Maharashtra and announced intentions to scale up the digital village concept to 100 villages.

The digital village concept touches various facets including banking, payments, public distribution system, classrooms and vocational education, among others, he said, adding that the focus is on electronification.

Nadella also announced that the country’s largest lender SBI has decided to move to the Cloud and will be adopting its Office 365 solution.

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