Covid-19 Transforms Education, Health And Fitness Delivery Services, Opens Doors For IT-Like Growth Trajectory – Swarajya

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A structural shift is underway globally in personal consumption of services. The Covid-19 pandemic has demolished barriers to adoption of remotely delivered services and short-circuited what otherwise would have been a multi-decade adoption process.

Just like the Y2K opportunity and dotcom boom helped India showcase its attractiveness as an offshore destination for information technology (IT) services, the current global pandemic offers a fertile ground for India to emerge as a global leader in remote delivery of personal services.

Education, health and fitness delivery have emerged as the first frontiers of this megatrend.

Annually, households spend hundreds of billions of dollars on these services and Covid-19 has presented a unique opportunity for India to capture a significant slice of this spend.

With gyms and educational institutions across the world shut down and physical access to doctors getting tougher, people have increasingly relied on remote delivery of these services.

While overall economic activity across the country slowed down in the last few months, revenues of new-age Indian companies like Byjus, Cure.fit, DocsApp, Mfine, Unacademy, Vedantu, Toppr and Whitehat Jr as consumers in India as well as outside lapped up their services.

At just 10 per cent of the cost of similar services in developed countries, the economic rationale for such global adoption was always clear.

Moreover, Indian competence in disciplines like coding, math and science, chess, yoga was already well accepted across the world.

The current spurt is more a function of critical mass of credible service providers coupled with forced behavioural changes driven by Covid-19 and catalysed by timely regulatory clarity in fields like telemedicine through the telemedicine practice guideline framework.

A take-off in initiatives in this space holds potential to create millions of well-paying jobs in India over the next decade.

With no formal and archaic eligibility tests necessary for most, these jobs have a much lower barrier to entry and as such can provide a big opportunity for those from lower economic strata.

Aggregator platforms themselves are running training and onboarding programmes for such new recruits albeit a much moderated version of what Infosys and TCS did at their training centres in Mysuru and Thiruvananthapuram.

A global consumer base also implies a significantly higher pricing which in turn can drive higher incomes for these jobs.

Some teachers on these online platforms are earning upto Rs 1.5 lakh per month as much as assistant professors at Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs). Also, absence of any downtime from travel maximises per hour earnings.

The flexible and work-from-home nature of such jobs can potentially add a lot of women to the workforce, especially in the smaller towns, contributing significantly to women empowerment.

In fact, platforms like Whitehat Jr are recruiting only women teachers citing greater dependability and compassion. Lower to middle income households can also supplement their base income meaningfully driving an uptick in overall spending power.

Sceptics will point out that India has had a few false starts in this space before. Over a decade back, companies like Tutorvista and its clones did scale up a bit before falling apart.

However, those entrepreneurial initiatives were ahead of their time without adequate infrastructural foundations in place.

Basic building blocks are firmly in place now English speaking and rightly skilled people pool, significantly improved Internet connectivity across the country, well-capitalised aggregator platforms run by ambitious entrepreneurs and a robust and growing domestic market for such services.

Moreover, Covid-19 has provided a much-needed escape velocity on the demand side which was lacking back then. With a tipping point near at hand, Indias credibility and market share in global education and health and fitness services can take major strides ahead.

Training and operational discipline to ensure a minimum standard of service and a favourable regulatory framework are next steps in the evolutionary process of building a multi-billion dollar industry.

A favourable macro setup and domestic regulatory framework, the global drive for lower-cost IT services and industry efforts made the post-2002 era the most transformative time for the IT services sector resulting in India exporting almost $150 billion of IT services annually.

With the right impetus, education and health and fitness services can enjoy a similar growth trajectory and have an equivalent impact on the Indian economy over the next two decades.

Nimish Joshi works for a leading media and entertainment company and Anshu Govil is founder and partner at Aurigin Capital.

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Covid-19 Transforms Education, Health And Fitness Delivery Services, Opens Doors For IT-Like Growth Trajectory - Swarajya

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