In Conversation with Sam Pitroda Sam Pitroda can be considered as the father of Telecommunications Technology in India, also, one of the policy makers of Indian National Congress. As the country is on the verge of a very crucial Lok Sabha Election, Sam Pitroda shares his political views with us. He talks about the credibility of electronic voting machines, India and her space in the fourth Industrial Revolution and the nation’s future post-Lok Sabha Elections.
Words of Sam Pitroda are of immense importance in an age when governments are largely controlled by a bureaucracy built on technology. What makes him special is not just that he is one of the best technocrats in the world today, but, the presence of Satyanarayanan Pitroda as a ‘policymaker’ in the corridors of power centres in India for over the last three decades. He is also a member of the committee that is engaged in the drafting of the election manifesto of the Indian National Congress led by Rahul Gandhi. We can say that his words would be decisive in the formation of a new policy for an anti-Modi front. It is in this context, Madhyam New Year Edition conducts a special interview with him. Here, he talks about the controversial electronic voting machine credibility, India in the age of Industrial Revolution and the future of India after the Lok Sabha elections.
Sam Pitroda was born on 4 May 1942 in a Gujarati family in Titlagarh, Odisha. His parents were firm believers of Gandhian ideals. Maybe due to this, they sent the young Pitroda to Gujarat to learn Gandhian philosophy. His primary education was at Vallabh Vidyanagar School. Later, he secured Masters in Physics from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Then, he received a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Illinois University, USA. Pitroda started his research in telecommunication technology in the ‘70s and rose to fame after he developed an electronic diary. Now, he has several patents including ones on transaction technology.
It was in ‘80s Sam Pitroda became a part of the Telecommunications Technology of India. Through that, he entered national politics. Actually, it was Indira Gandhi who invited Pitroda to India. However, it was Rajiv Gandhi who made maximum use of his potential. Immunization, literacy, and telecom- in various fields he worked as the technical advisor of the Prime Minister. It was during this time that India achieved massive progress in Telecom Technology. To the extent the nation is grateful to Abdul Kalam for rocket science, it is also grateful to Sam Pitroda with the history of Telecommunication Technology in India. He was the first Chairman of Telecom Commission. When the world shifted from Telecom technology to Information Technology in recent times, he became the torch-bearer of the change in India. That was how National Innovation Council and Central Information Commission were designed during his term as advisor to the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. In between, he also served as an advisor to the United Nations.
Usually, technocrats change their political affiliations depending on the change of government. Nonetheless, he was not ready to go with the government when Modi came into power in 2014. He even became a severe critic of the government. He openly spoke against the Modi government on their various policies including demonetisation. Sam Pitroda who once lent strength to the hands of Rajiv Gandhi is today immersed in the work of drafting a new manifesto for Rahul Gandhi.