Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday told India Inc including top industry leaders, technologists and startup founders that the country is uniquely positioned to leap ahead in the information era. He said it is time for tech-solutions designed in India to be deployed for the world.
“We have the best minds as well as the biggest market,” said Modi at the Bengaluru Tech Summit, 2020, which was held virtually. “Our local tech solutions have the potential to go global.”
He said that technology is the prime reason that the government’s schemes have gone beyond files and have changed the lives of Indians at speed and at scale. This includes providing electricity to almost all households. He said technology gives India the confidence that it would be able to vaccinate a large population of people against the Covid-19 virus in a short period of time. “When it comes to technology, the way ahead lies in learning and growing together,” said Modi. Inspired by that approach, a number of incubation centres are opening in India. He said the government is providing support to the vibrant startup community. Over the last few years, a great culture of hackathons has developed in the country.
“I have attended some of them too,” said Modi “Our young minds come together and think of ways to solve each challenge that our country and planet is facing. Challenges bring out the best in the people.”
Amidst a global lockdown, owing to the coronavirus pandemic, Modi said India's tech industry has shown resilience. He said the sector came into action and used tech solutions to keep the work going on from home and anywhere. The amount of tech adoption that would not have happened in the decade, took place in just a few months. “The Covid-19 pandemic was a bend in the path, not the end,” said Modi. “We would see a high amount of tech adoption in the field of education, healthcare and shopping,” he said.
Technology is also setting the pace for the defence sector to evolve. Modi said earlier wars were determined by who had better horses and elephants followed by the era of firepower. He said now technology is playing a very important role in global conflicts. From software to drones, he said technology is redefining the defence sector.
He said ‘technology first’ is the governance model of the government. Through this, it has enhanced human dignity. He said millions of farmers receive monetary support in one click. At the peak of the Covid-19 lockdown, he said it was the technology that ensured that India’s poor received proper and quick assistance. Technology has played a key role in the success of the world's largest healthcare scheme Ayushman Bharat. He added that the government had also taken measures to ease the compliance burden on the IT industry. Talking of the government’s Swamitva scheme, Modi said it was an ambitious scheme to give land titles to millions of people in rural India. It would also be achieved through technology like drones.
At the Bengaluru Tech Summit, Union Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said that while the Covid-19 pandemic created a lot of problems, the government decided to turn this challenging time into an opportunity. For instance, the global manufacturing world was looking at alternate manufacturing destinations. He said during the pandemic the government brought out Production Linked Incentive Scheme. He said that major global and Indian companies have committed to invest about Rs 11 trillion in the coming five years. “They propose to manufacture mobile and components. Out of which Rs 7 trillion would be only for export,” said Prasad.
He said that smartphone maker Apple has come to India in a very big way. During this pandemic, about 9 of the operating units along with component-makers of Apple have shifted from China to India. “In Bengaluru, Apple has started its production to manufacture quality phones for India and also for exports,” said Prasad.
He said these transformative changes are taking place due to the Digital India mission launched a few years ago. It has led to global inclusion with several home-grown elements. With this kind of image, the world is looking towards India. Even during the pandemic the communications and IT sector witnessed a growth of over 7 per cent.
“It received massive foreign investment, be it Google, Facebook or Amazon, because they are trusting India’s digital story,” said Prasad.
Government has come up with a robust policy to encourage artificial intelligence. But what is important, AI should lead to inclusion and empowerment of ordinary Indians and in areas such as agriculture, education and delivery. “I must also emphasise that AI should respect the ethical and cultural values of India,” he said.
He also appealed to the IT community, especially in Karnataka, to play a key role in promoting India as a big hub for the data economy. He said that the new Data Protection Law will be finalised very soon that will enable India to transform into a data economy. “India produces huge data,” said Prasad. “India is waiting for its moment for data economy and innovation,” he said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was also at the event said that under the partnership agreement signed this year, the two countries will be working on cyber and enabled technologies, a foundation for the digital economy.