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Text of Modi’s address at Digital India dinner

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photo credit: articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com

San Jose: Following is the text of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ speech at the “Digital India” dinner with Who’s Who of the tech world:

“Thank you, Shantanu, John, Satya, Paul, Sunder, and Venkatesh.

A big thank you!

I am sure this was not pre-arranged. But, here on stage you see a perfect picture of India-US partnership in the digital economy.

Good Evening, everyone!

If there was ever a gathering under one roof that could claim to be shaping the world, it is this. And, I am not talking about those in public office, here or in India! It’s a great pleasure to be here in California. It is one of the last places in the world to see the sunset. But, it is here that new ideas see the first light of the day.

It’s a great honour that you have joined us tonight. I have met many of you in Delhi and New York, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

These are the new neighbourhood of our new world.

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populous one and the most connected.

Google today has made teachers less awe-inspiring and grandparents more idle. Twitter has turned everyone into a reporter. The traffic lights that need to work the best are on CISCO routers.

The status that now matters is not whether you are awake or asleep, but whether you are online or offline. The most fundamental debate for our youth is the choice between Android, iOS or Windows.

From computing to communication, entertainment to education, from printing documents to printing products, and, now to Internet of things, it’s been a long journey in a short time.

From cleaner energy to better healthcare and safer transport, everything is converging around the work you do.

In Africa, it’s helping people transfer money on phone. It has made reaching small island states no longer a journey of adventure, but a convenient click of a mouse.

In India, a mother in a distant hill village has a better chance to save her new born infant. A child in a remote village has better access to education.

A small farmer is more confident about his land holding and getting better market price. A fisherman on the sea has a better catch. And, a young professional in San Francisco can Skype daily to comfort her sick grandmother in India.

An initiative by a father in Haryana for “Selfie with daughter” to draw attention to the girl child became an international movement.

All this is because of the work you people are doing. Since my government came to office last year, we have attacked poverty by using the power of networks and mobile phones to launch a new era of empowerment and inclusion: 180 million new bank accounts in a few months. The benefits include direct transfer of benefits to the poor, funds for the unbanked, insurance within the reach of the poorest and, pension for the sunset years for all.

By using Space technology and Internet, we have been able to identify in the last few months 170 applications that will make governance better and development faster.

When a small craftsman in a village in India brings a smile to a customer looking at his phone on a metro ride in New York, when a heart patient in a remote hospital in Kyrgyz Republic is treated by doctors sitting in Delhi, as I saw in Bishkek, we know we are creating something that has fundamentally changed our lives.

The pace at which people are taking to digital technology defies our stereotypes of age, education, language and income. I like recounting my meeting with a group of unlettered tribal women in a remote part of Gujarat. They were present at a local milk chilling plant I was inaugurating. They were using cell phones to take photographs of the event. I asked them what they would do with the images. The answer was a surprise for me.

They said,they would go back, have the images downloaded on to a computer and take printouts. Yes, they were familiar with the language of our digital world. And, farmers in Maharashtra have created a Whatsapp group to share information on farming practices.

Customers, more than creators, are defining the use of a product. The world may be driven by the same ancient impulses. We will continue to see human struggles and successes. We will witness human glory and tragedies.

But, in this digital age, we have an opportunity to transform lives of people in ways that was hard to imagine just a couple of decades ago. This is what sets us apart from the century that we have just left behind. There may be still some who see the digital economy as the tool of the rich, educated and the privileged. But, ask the taxi driver or the corner vendor in India what he has gained from his cell phone, and the debate gets settled. I see technology as a means to empower and as a tool that bridges the distance between hope and opportunity. Social media is reducing social barriers. It connects people on the strength of human values and not on identities.

Today, technology is advancing citizen empowerment and democracy that once drew their strength from Constitutions. Technology is forcing governments to deal with massive volume of data and generate responses, not in 24 hours but in 24 minutes.

When you think of the exponential speed and scale of expansion of social media or a service, you have to believe that it is equally possible to rapidly transform the lives of those who have long stood on the margins of hope. So, friends out of this conviction was born the vision of Digital India.

It is an enterprise for India’s transformation on a scale that is, perhaps, unmatched in human history. Not just to touch the lives of the weakest, farthest and the poorest citizen of India, but change the way our nation will live and work; nothing else will do in a country with 800 million youths under the age of 35 years who are impatient for change and eager to achieve it.

We will transform governance, making it more transparent, accountable, accessible and participative. I spoke of E-Governance as a foundation of better governance– efficient, economical and effective.

I now speak of M-Governance or mobile governance. That is the way to go in a country with one billion cell phones and use of smart phones growing at high double digit rates. It has the potential to make development a truly inclusive and comprehensive mass movement. It puts governance within everyone’s reach.

After MyGov.in, I have just launched the Narendra Modi Mobile App. They are helping me stay in close touch with people. I learn a great deal from their suggestions and complaints.

We want to free our citizens from the burden of excessive paper documents in every office. We want paperless transactions. We will set up a digital locker for every citizen to store personal documents that can be shared across departments.

We have set up Ebiz portal to make approvals for businesses and citizens easy and efficient so that they concentrate their energy on their goals, not on government processes.

We are using technology to impart scale and speed to development.

Information, education, skills, healthcare, livelihood, financial inclusion, small and village enterprises, opportunities for women, conservation of natural resources, distributed clean energy – entirely new possibilities have emerged to change the development model. But for all this, we must bridge the digital divide and promote digital literacy in the same way that we seek to ensure general literacy.

We must ensure that technology is accessible, affordable, and adds value.

We want our 1.25 billion citizens to be digitally connected. We already have broadband usage across India go up by 63 per cent last year. We need to accelerate this further.

We have launched an aggressive expansion of the National Optical Fibre Network that will take broadband to our 600,000 villages. We will connect all schools and colleges with broadband. Building I-ways are as important as highways.

We are expanding our public Wi-Fi hotspots. For example, we want to ensure that free WiFi is not only there in airport lounges, but also on our railway platforms. Teaming up with Google, we will cover 500 railway stations in a short time.

We are also setting up Common Service Centres in villages and towns. We will also use information technology to build smart cities.

And, we want to turn our villages into smart economic hubs and connect our farmers better to markets and makes them less vulnerable to the whims of weather.

For me, access also means that content should be in local languages. In a country with 22 official languages, it is a formidable, but an important task.

Affordability of products and services is critical for our success. There are many dimensions to this. We will promote manufacture of quality and affordable products in India. That is part of our vision of Make in India, Digital India and Design in India.

As our economy and our lives get more wired, we are also giving the highest importance to data privacy and security, intellectual property rights and cyber security.

And,I know to achieve the vision of Digital India, the government must also start thinking a bit like you.

So, from creating infrastructure to services, from manufacture of products to human resource development, from support governments to enabling citizens and promoting digital literacy, Digital India is a vast cyber world of opportunities for you.

The task is huge; the challenges are many. But, we also know that we will not reach new destinations without taking new roads.

Much of India that we dream of is yet to be built. So, we have the opportunity to shape its path now.

And, we have the talent, enterprise and skills to succeed.

We also have the strength of the partnership between India and the United States.

Indians and Americans have worked together to shape the knowledge economy. They have made us aware of the vast potential of technology.

From large corporate to young professionals in this great centre of innovation, each can be a part of the Digital India story.

The sustainable development of one-sixth of humanity will be a major force of good for our world and our planet.

Today, we speak of India-US partnership as a defining partnership of this century. It hinges on two major reasons. Both converge here in California.

We all know that the dynamic Asia Pacific region will shape the course of this century. And, India and the United States, the world’s two largest democracies, are located at the two ends of this region.

We have the responsibility to shape a future of peace, stability and prosperity in this region.

Our relationship is also defined by the power of youth, technology and innovation. These can ignite a partnership that will advance and sustain prosperity in our two countries.

Even more, in this Digital Age, we can draw on the strength of our values and partnership to shape a better and more sustainable future for the world.

Thank you.”

(IANS)

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Rise of PM Modi and roar of subversive forces

To counter PM Modi opposition leaders are desperately getting aligned with anti-India forces

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Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Wikimedia commons)

– By Salil Gewali

If your son makes friendship with the difficult and longtime enemies of your own family/clan then how do you describe him and how do you feel about your future? Will it not be likely to open the door to countless tragedies? But in India, such thing is now being openly celebrated. For past couple of years or more the political leaders of certain parties have been taking the wrong step forward in having closed-door meetings with the leaders of Pakistan/China. What transpires among themselves is obviously against the present government and the nation’s fundamental ethos. Those leaders have often been heard to be sympathetic towards the terrorists or those who “roar against the nation” or against its patriotic values. Yes, those leaders jump forward to defend them who wreak havoc with the “peaceful citizens”.   Some leaders are apologetic that certain NGOs/media/religious bodies should not be harassed in the name of fighting the terrorists and ISIS. This is how country’s leaders defend the dangerous postures of dangerous outfits. Will this trend not invite greater troubles to the nation in future?

One wonders how the apex judiciary of the country just allow the political parties to pour out their pent-up anger before the leaders of neighbouring countries who are always aggressively in the combative mood. Why is the Supreme Court silent on such blatant subversive activities?

Very recently, one senior leader of the national party even scoffed at Prime Minister Modi by calling him a depraved being “Neech”. What are the criteria for one being morally low? Has PM Modi fallen short any standards of the integrity since he works sincerely hard and formulates innovative plans and schemes for the greater welfare of the nation? Well, has he not been constitutionally elected by the people of this country? Why the media is less aggressive and more defensive for those “transgressors” who wield daggers behind the cloak.

Whatsoever be the political dispensation at the center, such open rebellion against the government will not augur well for the nation and its 1.25 billion citizens.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter Handle @SGewali

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Beatles, Apple, Facebook knew India more than Indians

Famous non-Indian celebrities know more about India and its past

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The Beatles once visited India to know more bout its past and culture.
The Beatles once visited India to know more bout its past and culture. Wikipedia

-By Salil Gewali

Facebook’s Chairman Mark Zuckerberg had dropped a bombshell on the “secularists” in India during PM Modi’s visit to his campus in California. It’s all about the Facebook connection with India. Initially, it was never a bed of roses for what is now a household name “FACEBOOK” across the world. This world-famous ‘social networking service company’ had its own share of bad times. Revealing for the first time in the meeting at the Facebook office upbeat Zuckerberg told PM Narendra Modi that Steve Jobs, the founder Chairman of Apple, had advised him to visit a certain temple in India for blessings. The revelation may have caused heartburn to many. More so in India where so-called secular and snooty folks have long acquired a proclivity to look down upon their own culture, religion, and values while being appreciative of any bizarre customs and styles of the West. Yes, heeding the advice of his mentor Steve Jobs the depressed Mark had visited the temple and toured around India for nearly a month.

Facebook's CEO tells about India.
Facebook’s CEO tells about India. wikipedia

Well, the American techno-wizard Steve Jobs had himself spent over six months in India in 1974. He was here in quest of the higher meaning of life and spiritual solace. As understood, from early age Steve was quite haunted by a good deal of unanswered questions. Of course, his encounter with a book “Be Here Now” by Richard Alpert, a Harvard Professor, had opened up a gateway to the spiritualism of the East. This book had also introduced him to a mystic Yogi ‘Neem Karoli Baba’. That later inspired Steve to set out the journey for the East. As soon as Steve and his friend Daniel Kottke arrived India they directly went to meet the Guru in Kainchi Dham Ashram in Nainital. But to their disappointment, they found the Baba had already passed away some months earlier. Nevertheless, the urge to dive deeper into the spiritualism did not die away. They shaved their heads and put on Indian clothes and undertook an extensive meditation and yogic practices.

The most significant impact that had made upon Steve’s life was a book “Autobiography of a Yogi”by Paramhansa Yogananda. It is on record that he would read this book too frequently, at least once every year until his death, 2011. This book had given him the practical insight into what exactly this world is about and how a layman can prepare himself to realize the Supreme knowledge. The first-hand account of a Yogi with empirical approaches to know oneself this book by Yogananda is a smash hit manual now among the seekers of the Eastern spiritualism.

Yes, by dint of hard work, intuition and innovation Steve stood out as one of the most successful techno-tycoons of the modern times. As much known, Jobs was hardly possessed by the luxury of riches and materialistic vanity. He just regarded his entrepreneurship as a tool to awaken his dormant potentialities. The chairman of Salesforce.com and famous philanthropist Marc Benioff says with conviction — “If you want to understand Steve, it’s a good idea to dig into ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’.” It is this book which Steve’s family had given to all the guests as a last gift at his memorial service.

Here we can’t afford to ignore the Beatle’s fascination for INDIA as well. The band members that were basking in the opulence of materialistic riches and glory visited India (Rishikesh) in search of inner peace. They met with Sri Maharshi Mahesh Yogi and learnt from him Transcendental meditation (TM) who laid bare methods to feel true bliss within. Sri Maharshi is a big name in the West having a huge following that includes celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, David Lynch, Russell Brand, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Aniston, Modern physicist Dr. John Hagelin, to name a few. The Beatle’s Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr often assist a Hollywood Director/actor David Lynch to organize the Transcendental meditation under ‘David Lynch Foundation’ across USA and the European countries. George Harrison later took refuge in Bhakti Yoga. The founder of ISKCON Srila Prabhupada showed him the pathway to the Supreme Consciousness.

What basically pulls the rational westerners to India is less known to Indians themselves. It’s shamefully paradoxical. From early 19th Century, the philosophical literary treasure troves and Yoga of India found more admirers in the foreign lands than at home. Indeed, the philosophy of the “laws of karma” and the presence of all-power-divinity within every being and everywhere — which any human being can realize irrespective of one’s caste, creed, nationality, and color, has intensely stirred the greatest of the great minds of the West. The ancient texts hold out a whole bunch of keys to unlock oneself and know his/her relationship with the Supreme Being which in fact seems very reasonable to the West. Further, the complex studies of world-view by Modern scientists are gradually arriving at the same conclusion what the ancient sages of India expounded over five thousands year back that ‘creation and creator are ONE’. Interconnection, inter-relation and interdependence among every individual particle/object, living or non-living, in the infinite universe — which is the fundamental tenets of the Eastern philosophy, provided a new light of wisdom to the the modern physicists like Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Julius Oppenheimer, Brain David Josephson, David Bohm, John Stewart Bell et al.

Well, Indian’s contribution to the western academia is immeasurable — though deliberately undermined or less discussed in India itself. It’s very worthwhile to recall a famous proclamation by our western master whom we hold in the highest esteem. TS Eliot, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, asserts: “Indian philosophers’ subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys”.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter @SGewali.

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Narendra Modi App : Amazing Platform where Prime Minister connects with the citizens

Wanna give ideas to or interact with Prime Minister Narendra Modi? Go and download Narendra Modi app on android and iOs

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Narendra Modi App
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (FILE PHOTO)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an amazing sense of connecting with masses. Prime Minister knows the nerve of Indian public and at various instances proves himself as a pan Indian leader. Prime Minster Modi is undoubtedly one of the most tech-savvy global leader and a big promoter of e-governance and m-governance since a long time. Within two months of assuming Prime Minister-ship, he had launched the ambitious myGov project. In continuing the tradition of citizen connect, Prime Minister Modi took another step towards connecting with the people at their convenience by launching Narendra Modi app couple of years back.

Narendra Modi app
Prime Minister launching Narendra Modi App

The Narendra Modi app provides updates on the day-to-day activities of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It presents an opportunity to receive messages and emails directly from Shri Narendra Modi. There is also an option to contribute and earn ‘badges’ through to-do tasks in various social initiatives. Through Narendra Modi app, one can tune-in and listen to the various episodes of ‘Mann ki Baat’, read Prime Minister Modi’s blogs, and get to know more about him from his Biography section. Narendra Modi app also provides comprehensive information on initiatives and achievements of the Union Government, which has an ‘infographics’ section for insights.

Such type of initiative by a global leader gives a strong message how technology can be used by governments to bridge gap between leaders and citizens. apart from this app Prime Minister Modi is also very much active on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Prime Minister Modi is the one of the most followed global leader on Twitter.

So what are you waiting for. Go and share some ideas of innovation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and contribute in his vision of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas”.

– by SHAURYA RITWIK, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik