Noting that India has great potential to become the most digitised economy globally in mere seven years, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has dubbed the government's demonetisation measure as a "bold move" that will help in deflating the Indian shadow economy.
"The Prime Minister's bold move to demonetise high-denomination notes and replace these with new ones with high-security features is an important step to deflate India's shadow economy," Gates said while delivering the Niti (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog lecture on 'Transforming India' in New Delhi on Wednesday (16 November).
Lauding the Aadhar Card scheme and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna for helping the disadvantaged sections in India to connect to the banking system, Gates said: "India has all the pieces in place for a compelling vision for digital financial inclusion. Aadhar will convert a cumbersome, paper-based account opening process into a 30-second all-digital system."
The Aadhaar Unique ID system will also create a centralised data repository, he added.
Speaking of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Gates, who co-chairs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said automation, cloud services and AI are poised to eliminate manufacturing jobs.
Describing this as an opportunity for the Indian Information Technology sector, the Microsoft leader called for India to embrace these new technologies, despite the fears provoked by such rapid transformation.
Gates also outlined how technology can help transform agriculture in India. He gave the example of rice crops that were infused with genes that made the plants resistant to floods. The new variety of crops is being used by farmers in South Asia. Gene editing is a new technology that can accelerate the process of trait creation in plant varieties. Satellites or drones could monitor crops for diseases, and to check if they had enough water or fertiliser.
Aiming to work with the government on various issues including e-payments, digital health, digital literacy and e-agriculture in India, Gates held a meeting with IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday (17 November).
Bill Gates at Niti Ayog:
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