Ben Verwaayen, Chief Executive Officer of Alcatel-Lucent and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Foundation Board, is blogging from the India Economic Summit, held in New Delhi 14-16 November 2010.  He will be speaking at the India Economic Summit’s Plenary Session on Monday 15 November on the topic “Innovating Rural Entrepreneurship towards Employment”.

by Ben Verwaayen

Ben Verwaayen Why is the WEF Indian Summit always so energizing?

I guess most people visiting India fall in love with the country.  I did so a long time ago.  That doesn't mean you can't ask tough questions though.  Actually, friends can do so much better than adversaries.

So this morning we had a panel about "Innovating Rural Entrpreneurship toward Employment" and what is required in India. Nik Gowing from BBC is a tough moderator.
The panel was large, the views were diverse as you can well expect.

My view is simple: when a problem has the size of 700 million people, it simply is too big to be a problem. Instead, it has to be an opportunity.  But an opportunity that requires a holistic approach, that will involve business models to reach the people to enable and empower them to develop.

The ideas are there and plenty of them. It is about execution and it is about how government must embrace the concept that the private sector is better equipped to execute.

Connectivity is a major issue.  Fifteen years ago voice penetration was 1 %. Today it is 70 %. Today internet penetration is about 1%.  It should NOT take 15 years for data and video to reach 70% penetration.

Yes, policy making has maybe to be adjusted (spectrum bundling is a must for getting there fast) and applications should combine commercial and public services.  But the prize to achieve is enormous.

A further chapter in the amazing India story.

Ben.