Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the internet provided a level playing field to the less privileged and detailed how his government had utilised digital technology for efficient service delivery and governance, as also to plug leakages that has saved $10 billion in subsidies. However, Modi cautioned the digital space should not become a playground for dark forces of terrorism and radicalisation. He stressed the need for information-sharing and coordination among nations for this. “Surely, we can walk the fine balance between privacy and openness on the one hand and national security on the other,” he said. Addressing the Global Conference on Cyber Space here, the PM elaborated on his government’s use of technology in different sectors, from health to education and also financial inclusion. He said direct transfer of government benefits using technology — the JAM trinity of Jan Dhan accounts, biometric identifier Aadhaar and mobile phones — had helped save $10 billion in subsidies. Modi called for training of “capable professional cyber warriors who would remain alert against cyberattacks”. He said the term hacking may have acquired an exciting, even if dubious, overtone, but there was a need to ensure that cyber protection became an attractive and viable career option for the youth. “Stories of hacking and defacement of websites are the tip of an iceberg. They suggest that cyberattacks are a significant threat, especially in the democratic world,” the PM said. “We need to ensure that vulnerable sections of our society do not fall prey to the evil designs of cyber criminals. Alertness towards cyber security concerns should become a way of life,” he said. The differences between global and open systems, and nation-specific legal requirements can be overcome, the PM said. While emerging digital technologies could impact the future, important questions of transparency, privacy, trust and security may need to be addressed, Modi said. Technology breaks barriers and typifies the ancient Indian inclusive tradition of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, or “the world is one family”, the PM said. “We in India give primacy to the human face of technology, and are using it to improve ease of living.” Modi said empowerment through digital access is an objective the Government of India was especially committed to and Digital India was the world’s largest transformative programme.
Modi said his government was using “mobile power”, or “m-power”, to empower citizens. Modi said digital technology had emerged as a great enabler and a tool for efficient service delivery and governance. From education to health, he said, digital technology was improving access to domains and helping shape the future of business and economy. It helped provide a level playing field in a less privileged society, and on a macro scale, it had contributed to “the emergence of a flat world” where developing nations such as India could compete with developed nations, the PM said. Modi said digital technology was helping farmers increase their income. Farmers can access soil-testing results, seek expert advice and a good price for their produce at the click of a button, or a small entrepreneur could register on a government e-marketplace and bid competitively for the supply of goods to the government. The PM spoke about his government’s efforts at encouraging a less-cash society with the BHIM App, the use of the MyGov platform for participative governance and of PRAGATI, where he holds meetings with senior central and state government bureaucrats via video conference, for cutting red tape to make government departments break out of their silos for faster decision-making. Modi invited the global investor community to invest in Indian start-ups “and be part of the unfolding story of start-ups” in India. He said internet by its inherent nature was inclusive and not exclusive. The internet offers equity of access and equality of opportunity. He said the current discourse in the world was being shaped by Facebookers, Tweeples, and Instagrammers.