Democracy's Biggest Strength Is Openness, We Shouldn't Allow Vested Interests To Misuse It: PM Modi At The Sydney Dialogue

by Swarajya Staff - Nov 18, 2021 11:14 AM +05:30 IST
Democracy's Biggest Strength Is Openness, We Shouldn't Allow Vested Interests To Misuse It: PM Modi At The Sydney DialoguePM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday (18 November) said opennes is the biggest strength of democracy and that "few vested interests" should not be allowed to misuse it.

Delivering the keynote address at the inaugural Sydney Dialogue via video conferencing on Thursdayk, PM Modi spoke on the theme of India's technology evolution and revolution.

PM Modi's address was preceded by introductory remarks by the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

During his address, PM Modi noted recognition for India's central role in the Indo-Pacific region and in the emerging digital world.

Noting the benefits of digital age, PM Modi also said that the world also faces new risks and new forms of conflicts across diverse threats from sea-bed to cyber to space.

“The biggest strength of democracy is openness. At the same time, we should not allow a few vested interests to misuse this openness”, PM Modi said, according to a PMO release.

He said that as a democracy and a digital leader, India is ready to work with partners for shared prosperity and security.

“India's digital revolution is rooted in our democracy, our demography, and the scale of our economy. It is powered by enterprise and innovation of our youth. We are turning the challenges of the past into an opportunity to take a leap into the future," he said.

PM Modi listed five important transitions taking place in India.

"One, we are building the world's most extensive public information infrastructure. Over 1.3 billion Indians have a unique digital identity. We are on our way to connect six hundred thousand villages with broadband. We have built the world's most efficient payment infrastructure, the UPI. Over 800 million Indians use internet; 750 million are on smart-phones. We are one of the largest consumer of data per capita and have one of the cheapest data in the world," PM Modi said.

"Two, we are transforming the lives of the people by using digital technology for governance, inclusion, empowerment, connectivity,delivery of benefits and welfare. Everyone has heard of India's financial inclusion, banking and digital payment revolution. Recently, we have used technology to deliver over 1.1 billion doses of vaccines, across India's vast geography using ArogyaSetu and Cowin platforms," he said.

"Three, India has the world's third largest and fastest growing Startup Eco-system. New unicorns are coming up every few weeks.They are providing solutions to everything from health and education to national security," he added.

"Four, India's industry and services sectors, even agriculture, are undergoing massive digital transformation. We are also using digital technology for clean energy transition, conversion of resources and protection of biodiversity," the Prime Minister said.

“We are investing in developing indigenous capabilities in telecom technology such as 5G and 6G. India is one of the leading nations in artificial intelligence and machine learning, especially in human-centred and ethical use of artificial intelligence. We are developing strong capabilities in Cloud platforms and cloud computing”, he added.

Talking about the resilience and digital sovereignty of India, PM Modi said “we are focusing on hardware. We are preparing a package of incentives to become a key manufacturer of semi-conductors. Our production linked incentive schemes in electronics and telecom are already attracting local and global players to set up base in India”.

He also asserted India’s commitment to data protection, privacy and security. “At the same time, we use data as a source of empowerment of people. India has unmatched experience in doing this in a democratic framework with strong guarantees of individual rights”, said PM Modi.

The Prime Minister said India’s contribution in coping with the Y2K problem and it offering CoWin platform to the world as open source software are examples of India’s values and vision.

“India's democratic traditions are old; its modern institutions are strong. And, we have always believed in the world as one family”, he said.

PM Modi further said that India's extensive experience with use of technology and policy for public good, inclusive development and social empowerment can be of great help to the developing world.

“We can work together to empower nations and their people, and prepare them for the opportunities of this century”, he remarked.

Giving a roadmap for democracies to work together, PM Modi called for a collaborative framework “to invest together in research and development in future technology; To develop trusted manufacturing base and trusted supply chains; To deepen intelligence and operational cooperation on cyber security, protect critical information infrastructure; To prevent manipulation of public opinions; To develop technical and governance standards and norms consistent with our democratic values; and, To create standards and norms for data governance and for cross-border flow that protect and secure data.”

He said emerging framework “should also recognise national rights and, at the same time, promote trade, investment and larger public good”.

In this context he cited the example of crypto-currency and said “It is important that all democratic nations work together on this and ensure it does not end up in wrong hands, which can spoil our youth”.

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