Posts Tagged ‘Sam Pitroda’


And there’s good news! The Government has given a special place to education in its 12th 5 year plan (2012-2017). It has decided to spend a whooping $100 billion on education. The current estimated expenditure is $70 billion. The declaration was made by Sam Pitroda, the prime minister’s advisor on education and innovation, at the ninth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD). He said, “We will be spending close to $100 billion on education in the 12th plan period. This will be in addition to around $20 billion investment on IT”.

However, the advisor is dissatisfied at the pace at which the developments are taking place. “We have made recommendations. Minister has to act. So far, they have not acted to my satisfaction,” Pitroda said referring to the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission. The Government, on the other hand, seems to be keenly taking measures to open up the education sector for more private and overseas investments.

Pitroda also said that the education system needs to be liberalized just like the economy was in 1991. He urged the Indian diaspora to invest in the educational sector. More than 1,500 members of the Indian diaspora took part in the ninth edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. This is 20% more than last year.


As a part of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, International Round Table of Academic Institutions’ opening ceremony was presided over by Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Hasmukh Adhia, Principal Secretary, Education, Gujarat at the Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University in Gandhinagar. A total of 76 MoUs were signed by 11 educational institutes and universities based in the state with foreign universities, companies and research institutes.

The MoUs consisted of 6 main combinations: those signed between a company and a state university (36 MoUs were signed in this category); an international university and a state university (24 MoUs); an international university and the state government (9 MoUs); a state university and a state institute (4 MoUs), between a research institute and a state university (2 MoUs), and another category in which ATIRS signed an MoU with a company named Elmarco.

Narendra Modi wooed the audience, he said, “Research is the essence for future development. I assure you that Gujarat has a society that will offer an ambience of risk-taking and entrepreneurship so that the fruits of research are taken to the common man”.


The Prime Minister expressed his concern regarding the widespread of private institutions in the field of education and the problems they may create in the dissemination of knowledge.

PM Manmohan Singh also stressed on scholarships and prizes to tide over social and economic handicaps. He added that had it not been for scholarships, he would not have been able to complete his education.

Talking about the barrier, PM said that, “With the growing share of privately funded for-profit educational institutions, this may be emerging as a worrisome barrier to freer access to knowledge for all our people. The strength of a nation is no longer determined by the might of its armies. Feudal restrictions and pre-democratic institutions are no longer able to impose social barriers to access to knowledge. If there is one barrier, and this too is an ancient one, it is the barrier of economic capacity.”

The concern seems to be genuine as the PM also referred to the brain drain and young people’s decisions to “leave the comfort of well funded institutions abroad to return home to work in India”.

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Sam Pitroda, the name can be better justified by the telephones that we use easily all across India. He is the man behind the telecom revolution in India and specifically, the omnipresent, yellow-signed Public Call Offices (PCO) that quickly brought cheap and easy domestic and international public telephones all over the country. Sam Pitroda has spent four decades in the world of telecommunications helping bridge the global communication divide. Through his efforts, he has brought telephones to some of the world’s previously isolated regions. In this field, Sam’s emphasis was on accessibility rather than density.

Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda, better known as Dr. Sam Pitroda, was born on 4th May, 1942 in India in the village of Titilagarh, Orissa. He is an inventor, entrepreneur and policymaker. Currently (since October 2009), he is the advisor to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure & Innovations and looks into creating information infrastructure for enhancing delivery of services to the citizens in various areas and will also be working on creating a roadmap for a ‘Decade of Innovation’ in India.

Sam’s parents hailed from Gujarat and had migrated to Orissa. They were deeply attached to Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophy. Sam Pitroda and his brother were sent to Gujarat to imbibe Gandhian philosophy. Sam completed his schooling from Vallabh Vidyanagar in Gujarat and completed his Masters in Physics and Electronics from Maharaja Sayajirao University in Vadodara. Thereafter he went to the US and did his Masters in electrical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Since 1964, Sam has mainly put up at Chicago with his wife and two children.

While the best brains of the world were busy solving problems of the rich, Sam took up a mission for the masses of a developing country that would not count for much in the world economy. Sam dreamt a dream of fixing one of the many problems that plagued India – an infrastructure of 2 million telephones for a population of 750 million was woefully inadequate – and he resolved to solve this.

Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s Sam Pitroda was involved in cutting edge technology research work in telecommunications. He is widely regarded as one of the earliest pioneers of hand-held computing because of his invention of the Electronic Diary in 1975. In 1974, Sam Pitroda founded a company, Wescom Switching which was one of the first digital switching companies in the world. Wescom was eventually acquired by Rockwell International, where Pitroda became the Vice President.

To fix India’s problem that troubled him, he sought an appointment with the then PM Indira Gandhi for a year and it took another year for her to get convinced that Sam’s was indeed a selfless motive. When Sam was asked to quote his terms, he responded with a budget of 36 million rupees and 36 months to show his work, and an annual salary of 1 rupee for the next decade. Thus was conceived the Center for Development of Telecommunications (C-DOT) in 1984, that would eventually lay the foundation to make India the software hub that it is today. In 1987, he became advisor to Mrs. Gandhi’s successor, Rajiv Gandhi and was responsible for shaping India’s foreign and domestic telecommunications policies. He headed six technology missions related to telecommunications, water, literacy, immunization, dairy and oilseeds. He is also the founder and first chairman of India’s Telecom Commission.

Sam’s professional career has been divided between the three continents of North America, Asia and Europe. He has served as Chairman of the National Knowledge Commission (2005–2008), a high-level advisory body to the Prime Minister of India, set up to give policy recommendations for improving knowledge related institutions and infrastructure in the country. Also, his strategy of using telecommunications in nation building has been internationally acclaimed. Sam is also the Chairman and CEO of World-Tel Limited, an International Telecom Union (ITU) initiative. Along with this, he is the Chairman and Founder of Sevend high-technology. Sam Pitroda is also the founding Chairman of a non-profit Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions in India. As a result of his pioneering works, Sam holds more than 100 key technology patents and has lectured extensively on Telecom, Technology and Development, in almost all parts of the world.

Sam is also the founder & CEO of C-SAM Inc. The company maintains its headquarters in Chicago with offices in London, Tokyo, Mumbai and Vadodara. C-SAM has developed an m-Commerce application by the name OneWallet. Sam also serves as a director on the board of Jet Airways and has also served as an advisor to the United Nations in 1992.

In July 2009, the Government of India invited Sam Pitroda to head an expert committee on ICT in Railways. The latest contribution of Sam was when in August 2010; Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the setting up of a National Innovation Council, with special focus on micro, small and medium enterprises for 2010-20.

The secret of Sam’s success is that he believes that working from the top down was essential for a country like India with its 400 million illiterate citizens. When your mission is to make a difference to the world rather than make a personal gain, you can draw courage from outside as everyone seeks to help you achieve that mission.

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