Amritsar: Aiming to bring low-cost Internet connectivity to youth in India and around the world where affordability matters, Suneet Singh Tuli, president and CEO of DataWind Inc. has made his mission to bring the Internet, which has the ability to create tremendous social and economic benefits, to billions of unconnected people in India and around the developing world.
His company has been named to MIT Technology Review’s 2014 annual list of 50 Smartest Companies having offices in London, UK; Mississauga and Montreal, Canada, Amritsar and New Delhi, India.
Amritsar became Tuli’s first choice not because it is a holy city but because he is impressed to see the aggressive youth workforce, unfortunately, the majority of it looking for job opportunities and he has hired 700 of them and growing.
Headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario and traded as a publicly listed company on the Toronto Stock Exchange Datawind is focusing on bridging the digital divide through its breakthrough patented technologies.
Born in Ludhiana, Tuli is a Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Civil Engineering from the University of Toronto. His company invented Aakash (Ubislate), globally recognized as the world’s least expensive tablet computer.
Q. Why did you choose your India headquarters at Amritsar over IT hubs like Banglore etc.
A. I wanted to show that Amritsar has immense potential, its youth force is dedicated to working but unfortunately, they didn’t have many opportunities, I am not only trying to set an example before others to follow but also dealing nationwide from here. People here are very intelligent, we have employed 700 so far and the number is growing. The company has rolled out half a million Internet-enabled tablets and smartphones from its production facility that was opened in July 2015 in Amritsar.
Q. How can you provide internet access to millions of have-nots in India?
A. I want to cater to the forgotten billion. Once you get past the upper and middle classes, you’ve got a billion people who are not part of the media, they’re not part of the political class, and are literally out of the system. We are having negotiations with micro-financing companies to provide tablets and netbooks for Rs 200 to Rs 300 a month and we are going to make this announcement in near future.
Q. Have you talked to the Punjab government or other state governments for their help?
A. Governments work slowly but we are making efforts to provide affordable tablets and netbooks to common parents so they could buy them easily. Independent of what government does, we want to bring affordability to this sector and want to see a tablet with an internet connection in hands of every kid.
Q. What is your opinion on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative?
A. The manufacturing industry is very energized by the Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. We’re excited about the concrete steps taken by the Indian government to help implement both the visions of ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’.
Q. Other than selling these low-cost gadgets what is your contribution to poor kids?
A. India is facing many challenges including a lack of educational infrastructure, teaching materials and trained teachers. By providing free tablets to a few local students we are doing our bit in bridging the gap.
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