Outsourcing Health and Education Knowledge: This Time India is the Sender

Update from the Editors: This project has actually be reported on before by Prerna. You can read it here. What is new is the inclusion of an education component.

In an interesting role reversal, The Government of India along with its technical partner for the project HCL Infosystems, will be “setting up an e-networking infrastructure in 53 African nations to share its expertise in the field of medicine and education.” [iGovernment]. The initiative will remotely connect twelve hospitals within India to five of their African counterparts in order to disseminate best practices for medical care. Additionally, seven Indian universities will establish linkages with five African universities for tele-education services.

According to HCL’ CEO Ajai Chowdhry,

“We have to understand the challenges complex markets like India and Africa face and work towards enabling IT as a means for development. This pan-Africa e-network project is a significant step towards allowing this expertise to benefit African countries in their developmental efforts.”

The efforts do not end there, however, as these seventeen hospitals (12 India, 5 African) will then connect to 53 remote facilities across Africa. “The tele-medicine and video conferencing capabilities will enable e-diagnosis and advice for patients at these facilities.” A similar scope will be implemented for the universities as well.

My reaction is after the jump.

In my opinion, this venture is great for three major reasons. First, it is a rare example that I have come across where the Indian government appears to be effectively using the PPP (public-private partnership) model on an international scale. Doing so provides for a mutually beneficial means for improving international relations between India and its allies.

Second, the effort recognizes that development cannot occur in a strict linear or chronological path. India has many problems with its own medical and education sectors, and could easily have decided to wait until they have ‘solved’ their own problems before reaching out and helping others. But that short-sighted thinking fails to recognize that such problems are persistent, pervasive, and in some respects permanent, and the failure to at least disseminate whatever lessons learned so far would have serious consequences for other nations. The fact that India looks to help others does not preclude that the country is still searching for ways to help itself.

Third, and this one is linked to the two reasons above, this initiative provides an opportunity for India to test new ideas both at home and abroad — leveraging a greater network of beta users that will hopefully help them improve the services more quickly. Doing so should help not only the people of Africa, but Indian citizens as well who will likely benefit from the same technologies that are being implemented in the African continent.

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