NEW DELHI: Infosys co-founder and Non-Executive Chairman Nandan Nilekani on Thursday said the company is looking at doubling its headcount in Canada to over 4,000 employees in the next 12-18 months.
Speaking at the annual Invest India Conference, Nilekani said Canada is an important country for Infosys and the IT major has centres in three cities - Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver - with over 2,000 employees in that country.
"And, the idea is to double it to over 4,000 In the next 12-18 months. We work with Canadian clients, we work with clients in the US from Canada. We also have great relationships with universities in Canada like Toronto and Vancouver, British Columbia and so on," he added.
The Aadhaar architect pointed out that Canada is a great centre for artificial intelligence (AI) and University of Toronto and Montreal are big centres for the new-age technology. "So, I think there's a lot of potential on the business side as well as the academic side for Indo-Canadian collaboration," he added.
Nilekani said that AI and digital technologies can play an important role in improving supply chain operations, especially in sectors like agriculture. He explained that AI can be used to figure out perishability of products and make sure that products are sold at the right time.
He said that as the world diversifies its supply chains and manufacturing bases, India has a huge opportunity not just as a supplier but also as a market. "We have to rethink manufacturing using robotics, 3D manufacturing...I think it is a good chance for us to create a digital supply chain as manufacturing comes more and more to India in the coming years," he added.
Talking about Aadhaar, Nilekani said the platform has played a major role in direct benefit transfer (DBT) programme, especially during the COVID-19-linked lockdown.
He said during the first few weeks of the pandemic when the government had to give emergency financial support, over 100-150 million bank accounts were electronically credited with money."I think that shows the power of technology in terms of a crisis. Aadhaar has really been a big part of the digitisation...it's been sort of confirmed by the pandemic that having this digital infrastructure is very strategic for a country," he said.
Nilekani also spoke of a proposal he has made to the government on the need for an online ID-based vaccination digital infrastructure. He explained that the challenge would be humongous because 1.3 billion people would need to be vaccinated.
"We will have to create an unprecedented adult vaccination infrastructure for a billion-plus vaccinations a year. And I'd propose that we use our ID to authenticate the person, issue them a digital certificate saying that they have been vaccinated by this vaccine at this time and the immunity period is for so long," he said.
Nilekani added that people would need to be trained to immediately report side effects of these vaccinations digitally so that any safety issues with vaccinations can be caught quickly. He added that while there are vaccines for children and pregnant women in India , there's no adult vaccination programme available.
"It's a whole new challenge of adult vaccination at scale and speed, and digital technology and Aadhaar is imperative to be used for doing that properly," he said.