Back to CNN
Content by Accenture

A Smarter Future

As nations start to rebuild for the post-pandemic world, there has never been a better clarion call for greener economic growth and sustainable development.

scroll to discover

With less than a decade left to achieve its goals, India is at a stage when every day has to have a greater impact than the day before for any meaningful positive change and disruption to make a measurable impact. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and data analytics are the buzzwords. When technology is integrated with governmental reforms and well-thought-out policies, the impact could very well alter our planet’s present and future.

These technologies, alongside the UN’s 5Ps for sustainable development are our greatest influencers.

It can be strongly argued that India's economy benefits from disruptive technology and transformative change.

The hard-working middle class is the soul of India’s entrepreneurial journey. Brimming with excitement at the thought of change, it is the middle-class aspiration that is a major driving force behind the country’s growth. The tech-savvy millennial and Gen Z middle class are hardwired for technological innovations and are key to developing solutions, not just as an aid.

Making sure these breakthroughs are holistic is sine qua non for this journey to progress. The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that the Indian government has also pledged to achieve by 2030 give a clear direction to the young and practical digital natives of the generation in question.

people • people • people • people • people • people • people • people • people • people
planet • planet • planet • planet • planet • planet • planet • planet • planet • planet
prosperity • prosperity • prosperity • prosperity • prosperity • prosperity • prosperity •
peace • peace • peace • peace • peace • peace • peace • peace • peace • peace • peace • peace • peace •
partnerships • partnerships • partnerships • partnerships • partnerships •

Five of India’s fundamental problems are addressed with innovation and technological prowess, developed by these Indian changemakers.

01 - 05 key issue
scroll to discover

Water & Sanitation

Climate Action

Air pollution has been one of India’s biggest problems; it kills more than 1 million people in the country every year.

In India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, a coal-fired power plant has been emitting 60,000 metric tons of CO2 every year till 2016. This industrial waste released into the air was a significant health risk. Many such energy-generating plants, industrial establishments, and other sources are why six Indian cities find their place amongst the world’s top 10 most polluted. The alarming haze of smog that engulfs India’s many beautiful monuments is a problem the government is determined to tackle.

Since 2017, the Tamil Nadu power plant became India’s first project to ensure the capture of carbon dioxide and its re-use as soda ash, commonly used in glassmaking. This science-fiction-turned-reality feat was made possible by Carbon Clean Solutions Limited (CCSL), founded by two IIT-Kharagpur alumni.

Images below: Carbon Clean Solutions Ltd’s first plant converts carbon dioxide from coal-fired boiler into soda ash.

Electricity is the primary source of energy that can deliver accelerated growth. Coal-based electricity generation is the largest source of man-made CO2 emissions and India is no exception, as 60 percent of its electricity demand is met by coal.

Aniruddha Sharma CEO of Carbon Clean Solutions

Thermal generation is the single largest emitter, accounting for 30 percent of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. CCSL’s technology can reduce all that carbon in the environment — the hardest 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions to control.

At the beginning of April 2020, India realized that change is possible. Almost overnight, toxic pollutants cleared, the skies glimmering with stars, waterbodies turned blue again, the air became fresh, fragrant and breathable and reports of majestic views, previously regarded as folklore, of the Himalayas from 200 kilometers afar surfaced. After two decades, northern India’s Air Quality Index (AQI) plummeted to an unbelievable all-time low.

Image below: Urban areas around the world are seeing pollution levels drop during lockdown.

Original Image now
Modified Image then

In a weekly podcast of World vs. Virus by the World Economic Forum, World Health Organization’s Dr. Maria Neira, highlighted,

Investing in new, renewable and clean sources of energy are good economic investments. The economic recovery has to be a healthy one.

Dr. Maria Neira World Health Organization

The value of carbon capture and reuse technology

India is the world’s third largest CO2 emitter in absolute terms. A 2015 study by Accenture Strategy and CDP report points out that carbon capture and reuse technology could create value through avoided emissions costs and drive the reuse of carbon-based products in industrial applications like cement production or agriculture.

It will be worth up to $ 11.3 billion a year by 2030 and
increasing thereafter.
02 - 05 key issue
scroll to discover

Quality Education

1.5 million. That’s how many schools there are for a country where half the population is below 25 years old. According to 2018-2019 data, India only had 37.4 million students enrolled in higher education, which suggests a high disparity between the number of schools vis-a-vis students. In March 2020, schools shuttered across the country, and the number of students in classrooms lowered even further to zero.

The vital, looming question became: What are Indian schools going to do to keep kids learning?

Educators who were hitherto tackling structural flaws plaguing the nation’s educational system — unviable sub-scale schools, a severe shortage of knowledgeable teachers, and non-interactive teaching methodology — suddenly found themselves struggling to rise to an immediate and burgeoning challenge. They were caught unprepared and crippled.

While they struggled, EdTech innovators were ready tap into the multibillion-dollar business opportunity with their tools and apps. One such success story is Mumbai-based Toppr, founded in 2013 by Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) alumnus Zishaan Hayath and Hemanth Gotet.

• make • make • make • make • make • make • make
learning • learning • learning • learning • learning •
personalized • personalized • personalized • personalized •

With the mission to “Make Learning Personalized”, Toppr provides students access to 24x7 e-learning, practice tests, and coaching from quality educators. While their video classes were always available as a free learning resource, in April 2020, Toppr made its live classes entirely free for all students in classes 5 to 12 from over 15 school boards.


I loved that I could revisit video lectures anytime. It was like having my professors in my pocket!

Toppr user

AI, machine learning, big data, and natural language processing can make learning personalized for every student.

Toppr has harnessed AI, machine learning, big data, and natural language processing to create a unique learning path and personalized improvement strategies for every child. This ensures a high-quality education for every child, even in the remotest parts of the country.

Click to reveal

In 2004, there were 500,000 Toppr downloads.

At the end of 2018, with an infusion of USD 35 million in fresh funding, there were…

6M Users of the technology
to date

A 2020 analyst report highlighted that EdTech firms, which have seen monthly visits of around 102.2 million, recorded 128.8 million from March through April.

Overall increase of 8.5% in engagement.
03 - 05 key issue
Water &
scroll to discover

Clean Water and Sanitation

For a largely agrarian country, an acute shortage of clean water is the greatest crisis its population can face. Unfortunately, we are approaching that reality in India at an untenable speed.

In small villages across the country, accounts of households lacking basic amenities, handpumps going dry, unyielding contaminated land leading to farmer suicides are common.

Groundwater is India’s most crucial water reserve, and managing this national resource is the need of the hour.

Junaid Ahmad World Bank Country Director in India

Image below: Groundwater is India’s most crucial water reserve.

Today, technological developments made by companies such as Vision Earth and Paterson Energy are making considerable advancements in water recycling and waste handling.

Vision Earthcare has over a hundred of its Soil Bio-Technology plants running across India with one single mission — to effectively and economically treat sewage and other industrial water waste. No odor, no chemicals, and minimal maintenance make this tech developed at IIT-Bombay apt for treating India’s problem. These plants recycle as much as 120 mega liters of waste water per day, and have positively impacted the lives of as many as 1.2 million people.

Images below: Vision Earthcare has been able to reduce water demand by 50 percent in water-stressed communities.

But with water, there is another problem — plastic litter that invariably finds a way into our precious water bodies.

To tackle this, Chennai-based Paterson Energy’s founder and director Vidya Amarnath pioneered Thermo Chemical Depolymerisation (TCD) — a technology that converts plastic waste into an industrial-grade fuel. Amarnath started the company in 2016 when she realized that only quality plastic is recycled and that it is at most only recycled twice. The remainder ends up in our oceans or a landfill.

We started working with IITs and the Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Technology to find better ways of using a resource like plastic instead of making a “Frankenstein monster” out of it and kicking away the hero element of its benefits and ease of use.

Vidya Amarnath Paterson Energy’s founder and director

Paterson Energy’s first plastic-to-fuel plant is in Tamil Nadu and has the capacity to convert five metric tons of waste into plastic oil every day for a city that produces a total of 220 metric tons of waste daily.

TCD is manufactured in plants with zero emissions and effluents and the resulting fuel produced, Verte-X, can replace furnace oil or diesel variants. This is cost-effective and multi-faceted solution can be used in heating and cooling solutions, to generate electricity, among other industries.

Image below: Only quality plastic is recycled and that it is at most only recycled twice.

At the turn of the pandemic, Paterson Energy is making plans to study the composition of every new kind of plastic. “While the world is lauding the environmental rejuvenation due to lockdown, we as a startup are dealing with large amounts of plastic waste from PPEs,” shared Amarnath.

With the ambition to expand into more cities, waste management will become more effective, efficient and economical.

Since its inception in 2016, Paterson Energy has recycled 500 tons of plastic waste and converted it into a high-grade diesel variant of oil that can be used as an energy-alternative by industrial boilers and fuel generators.

Thats the weight of… Click to reveal two-and-a-half blue whales
04 - 05 key issue
scroll to discover

Responsible Consumption and Production

58% Of India’s population work
in the agriculture industry

Agriculture, pegged as a USD400 billion industry in India, is the primary source of income for 58 percent of the country’s population. It feeds 1.2 billion people. Yet, India’s farmers are the poorest and the most aggrieved.

The Union Budget for 2020 by the Government of India focused on recovery of the agricultural sector. It includes a 16-point action plan to boost production, responsible consumption and address poverty in rural areas by working towards the goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.

In addition, significant technological support from local startups and enterprises will see India’s food industry heading for a dramatic and transformational change.

In the early days of May 2020, India witnessed its worst locust swarm attack in over 25 years. All the way from the northern agricultural belt of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana to other states further south such as Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, there was unsurmountable crop damage. They say a single swarm (containing as many as 40 million locusts) can eat as much food as 35,000 people, 20 camels or six elephants — all in one day.

Image below: Since May 2020, swarms of locusts have pushed into five different Indian states.

When monsoon season hits, these voracious feeders will again pose a threat to livestock and grasslands. To prevent farmers from facing further financial losses, integration of drone technology in locust forecasting and treatment is said to be a viable option.

The integration of technologies such as data science, agriscience, machine learning, IoT, data analytics, and AI in the agricultural ecosystem is deemed pivotal in minimizing risk.

Cropin is a leading agritech startup that has been helping farmers create more value for their crops — a vision aligned with the central government’s mission to empower farmers. The Bengaluru-based company launched ‘SmartFarm’ in 2012 which provides real-time actionable insights on standing crops.


Indian agritech startups are solving issues of poor infrastructure, supply chain management, proper storage and harvest loss.

Predictive analysis will enable better production and forecasting, resulting in better harvest and quality yield.

In 2018, Cropin introduced SmartRisk™ that mobilized artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics to make predictive and prescriptive solutions possible. It has since deployed its technological solutions to 30 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Americas. With its full-stack solutions and a global foothold, Cropin has been extending support to 2.1 million farmers.

An Accenture report had estimated the digital agriculture services market to hit USD 4.55 billion by 2020, a figure that supported the claim that agritech startups have the propensity to grow manifold in the country. A much-needed intervention for an industry on the shoulders of which the entire economy rests.

A 2019 Nasscom report indicates that India is home to more than 450 agritech startups.

They are solving issues of poor infrastructure, supply chain management, proper storage and loss of harvest.

Growing at a rate of 25% year-on-year.
05 - 05 key issue
scroll to discover

Good health and wellbeing

A weak health sector is like a puny immune system — while the latter is detrimental for the human body, the former can wreak havoc on an entire economy.

In a country where the government’s health expenditure has remained at around 1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the past decade, the 2020 global crisis came as an urgent reminder to India to invest considerably in the sector.

Meanwhile, Hyderabad-based Arvi has pledged to save lives using the power of AI and deep learning. Founded in 2019 by IIT-Bombay alumni Sushant Reddy, and Avinash Lavangal, Arvi has developed contactless kiosks that combine facial scanning along with thermal screening to speed up India’s fight against COVID-19. This technology can easily detect people with high temperatures as well as those violating requirements to wear masks.

Using the power of AI and deep learning, Arvi has developed contactless kiosks to automatically screen for some of the Coronavirus-symptoms.

The success of this technology will pave way for an interesting journey for Arvi, which started out in the healthcare sector with a simple idea -

a smart medical alert system for senior citizens to provide emergency and day-to-day medical assistance at the push of a button.

Image below: With Arvi’s medical alert system, seniors get healthcare services at home.

During the pandemic, it became critical to break the chain of transmission and prevent community transfer. With 464 people per square kilometre, pressing against each other, you look for an idea that works better than 6-feet social distancing norms. Arvi’s safe technology provides just that.

The kiosks can be easily installed by companies, restaurants, housing societies as well as manufacturing plants.

The advanced facial recognition facility by Arvi is equipped with an 8′ LCD screen and a 5 MP camera that has the capability to screen:

blood oxygen, pulse, as well as respiratory rate.
This content looks better in portrait mode
Rotate Device