Pitching his pet Digital India initiative with the titans of the IT world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday promised to make governance more accountable and transparent while assuring data privacy and security. Also Read - India may soon announce its own ‘Atmanirbhar’ app store as alternative to Google, Apple
Speaking before a gathering of Silicon Valley CEOs, Modi announced plans to create more public Wi-Fi spots including at 500 railway stations across India and an aggressive expansion of the National Optical Fibre Network to take broadband to 600,000 villages. “As our economy and our lives get more wired, we are also giving the highest importance to data privacy and security, intellectual property rights and cyber security,” he said at a dinner interaction attended among others by Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Qualcomm executive chairman Paul Jacobs and Google CEO Sunder Pichai. Also Read - Aarogya Setu app may soon come pre-installed in new smartphones in India
“We will transform governance, making it more transparent, accountable, accessible and participative,” Modi said, adding that E-Governance is foundation of better governance – efficient, economical and effective. In a nation of one billion cell phones, M-Governance or mobile governance has the potential to make development a truly inclusive and comprehensive mass movement. “It puts governance within everyone’s reach,” he said. Also Read - Samsung pledges Rs 20 crore for Corona fight in India, PM Modi calls it 'Good gesture'
Modi said Digital India was born out of conviction that it was possible to rapidly transform the lives of people on margins and touch the lives of the weakest, farthest and the poorest citizen of India as also change the way our nation will live and work. “We will connect all schools and colleges with broadband. Building I-ways are as important as highways,” he said. “We are expanding our public Wi-Fi hotspots. For example, we want to ensure that free Wi-Fi is not only there in airport lounges, but also on our railway platforms. Teaming up with Google, we will cover 500 railway stations in a short time,” he said.
The government, he said, wants to free citizens from the burden of excessive paper documents in every office. “We want paperless transactions. We will set up a digital locker for every citizen to store personal documents that can be shared across departments,” he said. Setting up of Ebiz portal has made approvals for businesses and citizens easy and efficient, technology is being used to impart scale and speed to development, he said.
Calling for bridging the digital divide and promote digital literacy, Modi said in the same way that we seek to ensure general literacy, technology must be accessible, affordable and value adding.