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Forerunners of Silicon Valley up for endorsing ‘Digital India’

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

San Jose: As a part of the ‘Digital India’ campaign, executives of top global tech firms, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Qualcomm announced significant plans for India as Narendra Modi met with Apple chief executive Tim Cook, MicroSoft’s Satya Nadella, Google’s Sundar Pichai, Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs, Cisco’s John Chambers, Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen and TiE’s Venk Shuklathese companies.

Modi’s-‘Digital-India’-Plan-Faces-Real-World-Challenges-copy

“I see technology as a means to empower and as a tool that bridges the distance between hope and opportunity,” Modi said at the ‘Digital India’ dinner engagement to conclude a packed day here.

“Social media is reducing social barriers. It connects people on the strength of human values, not identities,” said the Prime Minister, an avid user of the medium himself, which includes his penchant for selfies with his hosts and guests.

“Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the new neighbourhoods of our new world,” he said.

“Since my government came to office, we attacked poverty by using the power of network and mobile phones to launch new era of empowerment,” Modi said, adding: “In this digital age, we have an opportunity to transform the lives of people in ways that were hard to imagine a couple of decades ago.”

Earlier, a host of tech leaders said they were upbeat on engaging with India better. “India under the Prime Minister’s leadership is moving in the right direction with ‘Digital India’,” Jacobs said, announcing an immediate investment of $1.5 million for innovation labs in the country to support product designing.

“Now it is time for us to collectively empower people from all over the world,” Nadella said, adding that Microsoft intended to partner individual states and tech companies in this regard.

Nadella gave the example of Surat where Microsoft was working with municipalities on data analytic systems.

Pichai, had a take on another of Modi’s initiatives – that to foster, nurse and promote entrepreneurship. “India is the fastest growing ‘start-up nation’ in the world,” the Google chief executive said.

Some of Prime Minister Modi’s other remarks at “Digital India” dinner:

– From large corporates to young professionals in this great centre of innovation, each can be part of ‘Digital India’

– We recognize that ‘Digital India’ cannot not be built without bridging the digital divide.

– Status now is not whether you are awake or asleep. It is whether you are online or offline.

– After MyGov.in, we launched Narendra Modi Mobile App, which is helping me stay in close touch with people.

– We will use information technology to set up Smart Cities in India.

– Like airports, we will have Wi-Fi at 500 railway stations in India with Google as partner

– We will connect all schools and colleges with broadband.

– We will expand our public Wi-Fi hotspots.

(With inputs from IANS)

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The Answer to The Impending Questions On Demonetization Are Here

While it did broaden the country’s tax base, it was a nightmare for the immense, cash-dependent informal economy.

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Indian Currency. Pixabay

Nearly all of the currency removed from circulation in a surprise 2016 attempt to root out illegal hoards of cash came back into the financial system, Resever Bank of India  has announced, indicating the move did little to slow the underground economy.

Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi’s currency decree, which was designed to destroy the value of billions of dollars in untaxed cash stockpiles, caused an economic slowdown and months of financial chaos for tens of millions of people or demonetization.

Modi announced in a November 2016 TV address that all 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee notes, then worth about $7.50 and $15, would be withdrawn immediately from circulation. The banned notes could be deposited into bank accounts but the government also said it would investigate deposits over 250,000 rupees, or about $3,700. The government eventually released new currency notes worth 500 and 2,000 rupees.

 

demonetization
An activist of Congress party hold the banned 500 and 1000 rupee notes.

 

In theory, the decree meant corrupt politicians and businesspeople would suddenly find themselves sitting on billions of dollars in worthless currency, known here as “black money.”

“A few people are spreading corruption for their own benefit,” Modi said in the surprise nighttime speech announcement of the order. “There is a time when you realize that you have to bring some change in society, and this is our time.”

But even as the decree caused turmoil for those in India who have always depended on cash — the poor and middle class, and millions of small traders — the rich found ways around the currency switch. In the months after the decree, businesspeople said that even large amounts of banned currency notes could be traded on the black market, though middlemen charged heavy fees.

demonetization
Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with mayor, flickr

The reserve bank of India report said in its Wednesday report that 99.3 percent of the $217 billion in notes withdrawn from circulation had come back into the economy. Some officials had originally predicted that number could be as low as 60 percent.

Also Read: Diverse Gathering To Be Addressed This World BioFuel Day: PM Narendra Modi

“Frankly, I think demonetization was a mistake,” said Gurcharan Das, a writer and the former head of Proctor & Gamble in India. He said that while it did broaden the country’s tax base, it was a nightmare for the immense, cash-dependent informal economy.

“You can’t overnight change that in a country which is poor and illiterate. Therefore, for me it’s not only an economic failure but a moral failure as well,” Das said. (VOA)