Amid concerns over data protection under the new 5G technology, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Thursday said in an increasingly digital world, information is power and so protecting data is essential for economic wellbeing and national security.
"If information is the new gold, then we are sitting on 1/7th of the world's proven reserves. Because one out of every seven in the world is an Indian," he said at a panel discussion at the Raisina dialogue.
"So the data that is collected, whether it is for the economic purpose whether it is for national security, whether it is for any other reason, is something that we need to protect," he said.
His remarks come as Telecom operators in the country have submitted their applications for 5G trials.
Last month, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said the government will allocate airwaves to all telecom service providers for conducting trials of super-fast speed 5G network. India will not bar any equipment suppliers in the upcoming trials for 5G.
The stance had spelt relief for Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei, which rivals western equipment makers such as Ericsson and is facing curbs in the US.
Asked about the 5G techology, Mr Gokhale said simply going with a technology because it is the cheapest would not be the wise course of action.
"The wise course of action will be to develop our own capacity and capability and I have no doubt that the government is looking at certain core technologies which will protect the core, but we have to be mindful of the fact that whichever technology we choose, we are going to be living with it for 20 or 30 years," he said.
"In an increasingly digital world, information is power so we have to protect the data that is essential for our economic wellbeing and for our national security," Mr Gokhale said.
The Foreign Secretary also said India supports an organic economic growth and its intention is not to disrupt.
"No indication that we are a disruptive power, we are a power that stabilises and a power which everybody else is confident which actually supports a multilateral security structure," he said.
US Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Jukka Juusti, Permanent Secretary, Finland's Ministry of Defence, were also part of the panel discussion.