Sam Pitroda was instrumental in driving the telecom-based transformation in India (in particular rural India). He is now chairman of the Knowledge Commission, an initiative to prepare India for the Knowledge Society. An ambitious, brave and breathtaking effort.
This is a patience game as the network effect will take time to bear fruits. However, Nehru and his advisors did that with education -- soon after independence in the 50s -- when they had the foresight to prioritise high-quality indigenious education. Sam Pitroda, with Rajiv Gandhi's initiative did that with Telecom -- where he was instrumental in opening up the telecom services and devices to small-scale entrepreneurs (I viewed this as a kind of micro-entrepreneurship along the lines of micro-credit). I sincerely hope the Knowledge Commission succeeds in driving this change.
Meanwhile, I have great expectations from Norway's Education Transformation initiative (Knowledge Promotion - Kunnskapsløft) …. And I dream of the possibility to export the Knowledge Promotion programme to other nations. Reading one of the reports from the Knowledge Commission, I understood that there are about 4 million teachers in India; some fewer than Norway's total population of 4.5 million …. And again, it struck me that "Norway as a test-bed for the digital society" can be quite real. Both for societal development and business opportunities; and it seems like it would work well with Norway's own efforts in search for alternative sources of value creation (once the oil and gas wells run dry).
Somewhere in the Knowledge Commision's many reports I recall reading that education was equated with healthcare. At the first read, it seemed odd; but then still dreaming, I wondered if this could be the first small steps to a welfare state .... and there again the test-bed line of thinking! Societies cannot be exported; but a Societal Digital Infrastructure could and be a strong enabler for societal change.
A long road ahead and some great business opportunties; I continue dreaming ....