NEW DELHI (TIP): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, July 1, kicked off the nation’s digital campaign, eliciting a financial commitment of a whopping Rs 4.5 lakh crore from captains of the Indian industry to realize the dream. Inaugurating ‘Digital India Week’ here, the prime minister chalked out the vision of a digital revolution in the country, saying that it is necessary to deal with problems like corruption, help provide transparent and efficient governance and bridge the rich-poor divide. “We have to move from e-governance to m-governance. m-governance does not mean Modi governance, it’s mobile governance,” he quipped as a packed audience listened in rapt attention. The audience included several ministerial colleagues, leading lights of India Inc and CEOs of global corporates.
The prime minister pointed out that India has huge capabilities in the field of information technology (IT) and vowed to encourage manufacturing of electronic goods within the country, which account for the second largest item of imports next only to oil. Pointing out that times have changed and that India would be left behind unless it carries out revolution in the IT field, the PM exhorted India Inc to boost production of electronic devices and goods in the country, as part of the Make in India initiative, to reduce dependence on imports.
He called upon the youth to innovate and said ‘Design in India’ is as important as ‘Make in India’. Promising government support to startups, Modi said India has the potential to become the second country after the US in this area. “India may have missed the industrial revolution, but will not miss the IT revolution,” he said.
Highlighting the advantages of IT, Modi said at the same time, “clouds of a bloodless war are hovering over the world” in a reference to the global fears over cyber security. “The world is terrified by this… India has a big role to play in this. Can India play this big role? India has talent. Can India provide a shield to the world by providing innovative and credible solutions? Why should we not have such confidence? We should accept this challenge to ensure that entire humanity lives in peace,” the PM asserted. He illustrated the dangers posed to cyber security by pointing out that “somebody, with an education of up to the 10th or 12th class, sitting thousands of miles away, can clean up your bank account with a click of the mouse. This situation needs to be addressed”.
Noting that India had lagged behind when the world went through the industrial revolution, Modi said he dreams of a Digital India where government services are easily available to citizens on mobile devices. “I dream of a digital India where the government proactively engages with people through social media… I dream of Digital India where cyber security becomes integral part of national security,” he said, reminding the audience of the historical speech of Martin Luther King.
The digital week will involve citizen awareness programs, but the main strategy is to step up domestic investments in manufacturing so that net imports of technology and electronic goods come down to nil by 2020, while creating over 100 million jobs.
Modi is active on social media, particularly Twitter, where he has 13 million followers and is widely seen as a tech savvy leader.
With a growing economy and falling handset prices, India is one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world. But there is a huge challenge ahead. India’s average Internet speed was ranked 115th globally in the first quarter of the year, among countries studied by services provider Akamai Technologies. The country had just a little over 100 million broadband subscribers at the end of April, out of a population of close to 1.3 billion, according to telecom regulator Trai.
The function was attended by Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar Prasad, JP Nadda, Thaavar Chand Gehlot, Jual Oram and Nirmala Sitharaman. The India Inc was represented by RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani, ADAG chairman Anil Ambani, Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Mittal, Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry, Aditya Birla Group chief KM Birla and Wipro’s Azim Premji. Some global honchos were also part of the grand event.