Houston, United States:
PM Modi was speaking to a crowd of 50,000 people at the 'Howdy, Modi!' event in Houston
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing a crowd of more than 50,000 people at the grand 'Howdy, Modi!' event in Houston today, described data as the "new oil" and the "new gold" and indicated India was in a strong position to lead the world in the industry 4.0 revolution, which relies on big data analytics and digital technology to augment and improve manufacturing.
Making a strong pitch to potential investors in the United States, the Prime Minister also referred to the cheap cost of mobile data in India and referred to the increasing use of digital technology to set up businesses, facilitate economic transactions and interact with the government.
"Today it is said that data is the new oil. I will also add that data is the new gold. Industry 4.0 is focused on data. Now, please listen carefully, if there is one country in the world where data is cheapest, then that is India," the Prime Minister said, adding, "Digital India is India's new face to the world".
"There was a time when filing tax returns was a headache. It would take months. But, on August 31, on only one day, nearly 50 lakh Indians filed their I-T returns online... that is nearly double Houston's population," the PM said, highlighting the use of digital technology by his government.
In March, a study by a United Kingdom-based price comparison website showed India provided mobile data at the lowest rates in the world. In INR terms, Indians paid Rs 18 per GB of data against a global average of Rs 600, the report said.
However, the PM's comments also come as American digital companies like Google, Mastercard, Visa and Amazon lobby against data localisation rules around the world, including those in India.
In June, US President Donald Trump sent a clear message to India and China over their stance on data localisation, saying it obstructed digital trade flow. "(The) US seeks free flow of data... and is eager to work with like-minded partners," Mr Trump said at a G20 summit in Japan.
India countered by describing data as a "new form of wealth" and insisting that any discussion on its storage needed to take into account requirements of developing countries.
Prime Minister Modi is in the US for a week-long tour that began with a meeting with CEOs of energy companies on Saturday. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, who described the meeting as "fruitful", said talks focused on issues like energy security and expanding mutual investment opportunities between the two countries.
As part of his tour the Prime Minister will also take part in a climate summit in New York City, hold bilateral meetings with US President Donald Trump and address the UN General Assembly, amid tension between with Pakistan over the centre's decision to scrap special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370.