Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the combination of nation's demographic dividend and data, with proven tech prowess presents immense opportunities as he exuded confidence the decade will be 'India's techade'.
Speaking at a virtual event to mark the completion of six years of Digital India, PM Modi said India is fully conscious of its responsibilities as a data powerhouse and noted that work was underway on all aspects of data protection.
"Data and demographic dividend present a massive opportunity for India... together, we will be successful in making this decade, 'India's techade'," PM Modi said.
Estimates suggest that dozens of tech companies in India will enter the unicorn club (with USD 1 billion valuation) in coming years, he said and asserted that data and demographic dividend collectively offers huge potential.
PM Modi spoke via video conference to beneficiaries of various schemes of Digital India programme, including Diksha, eNAM, eSanjeevani solution for telemedicine, DigiBunai and PM SVANidhi scheme.
PM Modi talked about the critical role that technology had played during the pandemic to ensure continuity of education, access to healthcare, and other citizen services, and noted that digital solutions created by India during this period are being acknowledged globally.
"The digital solutions that India has prepared during this time are a topic of discussion and interest all over the world today. One of the world's largest digital contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu has played a key role in containing the spread of COVID-19," he said.
Many nations have shown interest in the CoWIN app, and tools like these are proof of India's technical prowess.
PM Modi lauded the passion for innovation and the zeal to adopt those innovations rapidly, and said six years of Digital India programme marks the rapid strides that the country has taken in adoption of technology.
Digital India programme underscores the nation's resolve for self-reliance (AatmaNirbhar Bharat), he said.
Affordable tablets and digital devices are being offered to students across the nation and production-linked subsidies are being given to electronic companies to realise this goal.
"In the last 6-7 years, leveraging Digital India, around Rs 17 lakh crore has been transferred in the bank accounts of beneficiaries under various schemes," PM Modi said.
During interaction with the Prime Minister, Suhani Sahu (a class 5 student from Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh) shared her experiences about the DIKSHA app and explained how it had helped her in continuing her studies.
"Be it driving licence, birth certificate, paying electricity bill, paying water bill, filing income tax return, for many such tasks, now the processes have become very easy, very fast with the help of Digital India. And all this is happening in villages, in Common Service Centres (CSCs) near people's homes," PM Modi observed.
Launched on July 1, 2015, Digital India builds on the concept of minimum government, maximum governance and has led to "opportunities for all, facility for all, and participation of all". It has enabled people's access to the government system, made services and processes transparent, non-discriminatory, and attacked corruption.
The Prime Minister explained how Digital India is empowering the common citizen by reducing the gap between government and people, system and facilities, and problems and solutions.
He cited an example of how Digilocker has helped millions of people especially during the pandemic by providing a digital storage facility for school certificates, medical documents and other important certificates.
On One Nation One Ration Card, PM Modi commended the Supreme Court for asking all the states to implement the initiative. He said the One Nation One Ration Card initiative is benefitting people who travel to other states for work.
Expressing satisfaction over the successful outcomes of Digital India, PM Modi said the programme has helped the country during the pandemic period.
At a time when developed countries were unable to send aid money to their citizens due to the lockdown, India was sending thousands of crores of rupees directly to the bank accounts of the people leveraging technology, he said.
Under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, Rs 1.35 lakh crore have been deposited directly into the bank account of more than 10 crore farmer families, and that Digital India has realised the spirit of One Nation, One MSP, he added.
PM Modi highlighted that 2.5 lakh CSCs had helped take the Internet to remote areas. Under Bharat Net scheme, work is underway on a mission mode to bring broadband internet to the villages.
Through PM WANI, access points are being created so that rural youth can connect with high-speed internet for better services and education. Also, 5G technology will bring significant changes in the world, and India is preparing itself to make the most of this opportunity.
IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was also present on the occasion.
He said Digital India had played a crucial role in citizen services and resolved that the movement forward will be taken forward by leveraging futuristic technologies like Artificial Intelligence and blockchain.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)