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Data not being used meaningfully in India, protection bill is need of hour, says Mayank Kumar of upGrad

In a conversation with, the Co-Founder of the online higher education platform says media agencies in the country haven’t yet understood technology and data, and are incapable of providing unbiased perspectives to brands

Mayank Kumar, upGrad

Ever since The Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 was tabled in Parliament in December, there has been a heated debate around it in the technology and digital sectors.

Several experts, along with technology companies, have aired their concerns, claiming that the bill would make their functioning more cumbersome and would add to operational costs. Digital marketers say the bill, if implemented, could hit digital media plans of brands as targeting users would not be as easy and cheaper. 

However, Mayank Kumar, Co-Founder and MD of online higher education platform upGrad believes that the country today needs a Personal Data Protection Law, irrespective of the fact that it could make the functioning of tech platforms more cumbersome.

“The Personal Data Protection Bill is cumbersome. However, in the end, it is required because otherwise in India, data is not at all used meaningfully. Anyone can throw data at anyone and just move on,” he said in an interaction with

He said agencies in the country haven’t yet understood technology and data and thus are incapable of providing unbiased perspective on tools and technology to brands.

The government’s proposed legal framework known as Personal Data Protection Bill for the use of personal data and preventing its misuse— drafted on the lines of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—is likely to impact sectors such as e-commerce, streaming platforms, financial services, IT among others.

The bill was tabled in Parliament on December 11 and is now being reviewed by a joint panel of the House. If passed in the current form and shape, the bill is likely to increase the cost of operation for marketing agencies and could pose obstacles in the implementation of personalised marketing campaigns. The bill has divided data into three segments; personal, sensitive personal and critical personal.

The companies will have to take explicit consent from users before processing personal data and inform the user about the nature and categories of personal data being collected and the purpose for which it will be processed. The user will also have to be informed about other entities the data will be shared with.

upGrad plans partnership with local universities and wants to expand in tier-3 cities. upGrad has media baron and serial entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala as its Executive Chairman and Co-Founder.

In a span of two years, upGrad was able to achieve 6x growth in terms of its revenue and now it aims to triple its revenue by next year on the back of multiple new programs. The online higher education platform claims to provide rigorous industry-relevant programmes.

Talking about the growth potential of online learning platforms, Kumar said digital will overtake the physical learning ecosystem as it will democratise the education ecosystem.

Talking about how personalised the experience of online education is, Kumar said, “We have a very strong team of coaches, 300 plus industry leaders and data and technology team that focuses on giving learners personal attention. We ensure the learner gets a personalised experience. We don’t do anything on the ground because we believe anything that a student wants should be available online. The reason why education has not yet been democratised is because the same quality of education is not delivered across all locations. In the coming years online will surely overtake physical education. Acceptance in people towards online education is low right now but it will definitely increase because they don't have enough options.”

The company currently has a base of 21,000 paid learners and 370,000 free learners.

Advising marketers associated with start-ups, Kumar said, “One needs to be just very obsessive with the consumers. If you don't know the consumers, then any of the mediums and channels will not work out. Also, a marketer has to be very agile.”

The company’s media agency is Starcom. It works with Tilt Brand Solutions for creative and Tatvic for digital marketing.

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