Sriram Naganathan, CIO, Liberty Videocon Insurance, shares his dream of marrying agriculture and technology to make a difference. By Pooja Paryani
For a while now, Sriram Naganathan has been seriously contemplating his long-term plan that involved giving back to society. An IT professional with over 20 years experience across enterprise technologies and management consulting, Sriram has been in various leadership positions in different BFSI/IT organisations. He was recently awarded as a Mobility Icon at CIO Power List 2016. But there is one slightly offbeat dream that has taken over his interest—marrying agriculture with technology.
“I want to get into some research around agriculture and farming,” says Sriram. “It’s been a passion for a long time now. I’ve already started looking into this and I’m in touch with a few companies and trying to figure out what type technological changes we can work on, including drip irrigation and desalination technologies. Applying technology in more practical areas, rather than business, drives me. I’d like to work full-time on this at some point; it’s part of my long-term vision for life.”
Need of the hour
“Everybody is actually moving away from agriculture but it is not something that should be ignored. It is not a glamorous profession, so everybody doesn’t wish to get into it. But it is necessary; agriculture is the base for everything. Our living is dependent on agricultural products and we need to be close to the roots. I have seen the irregularity of rains that have affected production on a big scale. Seen farmers reach a stage where they can find now way out of debt and so commit suicide. This is saddening and I want to do something for them. The solution lies in the fields, political solutions won’t help. People are moving away from agriculture because they aren’t able to earn a living to sustain their life. The change needs to happen now.
“The aim isn’t to help them financially, but to work on their basic requirements for agriculture so that they can earn their livelihood. Farmers do not wish to migrate to the cities, they try to be satisfied in whatever condition they live in; they are very simple and completely unaware of how to survive in today’s world. The irregular rains are affecting the produce and the GM modified seeds generating the produce. So the genetic potential growth of the agricultural products is affected. These issues are very deep rooted and I wish to help change them.”
Taking inspiration from other countries
“There are countries that have done exceedingly well in agricultural technology. The ideas are already there and we just need to rework and personalise them as per our requirements for India. Israel is the leader when it comes to agriculture. Look at the country, there’s sea in all their surroundings, which has lead them industrialise the process of desalination. They have made it affordable for farmers. Even in India we do desalination but it is quite expensive and ultimately becomes unaffordable for farmers. Israel has been able to master it is because of their biotechnological advancements. It has even mastered drip irrigation technology.”
Planning for the future
“Fortunately, I have few friends who’ve helped me connect with experts in this field. So I have already started my initial research. But due to my other responsibilities I won’t be able to make the shift soon. Probably it will take 10 more years to live my dream. Once I’m free of my job and family responsibilities I’ll be free to do what I really want to do.”
Make time for your dreams
“Everyone has dreams and passions that might be apart from what they are actually doing. People get caught up in the daily grind and sometimes keep their passions aside. I have seen several individuals who, due to their professional demands, have forgotten their little dreams. You can stay grounded in your life and live your dreams. It is possible. After all, we’ve only got one life to do what we really wish to. So make time for it, you never know what you might accomplish.”