Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that where convention fails, innovation helps, as he noted that during the Covid pandemic, digital technology helped people to “cope, connect, comfort and console”.
Addressing the 5th edition of VivaTech, one of the largest digital and start-up events in Europe, held in Paris every year since 2016, he said: “India’s universal and unique bio-metric digital identity system – Aadhar – helped to provide timely financial support to the poor.
“We could supply free food to 800 million people, and deliver cooking fuel subsidies to many households. We, in India, were able to operationalise two public digital education programes – Swayam and Diksha – in quick time to help students.”
The Prime Minister also praised the role of the start-up sector in meeting the challenge of the pandemic, citing how indigenous IT platform, Arogya Setu enabled contact tracing and the CoWin digital platform has already helped ensure vaccines to millions.
“India is home to one of the world’s largest start-up eco systems. Several unicorns have come up in the recent years. India offers what innovators and investors need,” Modi said, invited the world to invest in India based “on the five pillars of Talent, Market, Capital, Eco-system and, Culture of openness”.
The Prime Minister also stressed the strengths like India’s talent pool, mobile phone penetration, 775 million internet users, highest and cheap data consumption in the world. and the highest use of social media to invite investors to India.
He also enumerated initiatives like state of the art public digital infrastructure, 523,000 km of fibre-optic network linking 156,000 village councils, and public wi-fi networks across the country.
About the disruption in different sectors over the past year, the Prime Minister insisted that disruption does not have to mean despair, instead, the focus should be kept on the twin foundations of repair and prepare.
“This time last year, the world was still seeking a vaccine. Today, we have quite a few. Similarly, we have to continue repairing health infrastructure and our economies. We in India implemented huge reforms across sectors, be it mining, space, banking, atomic energy and more. This goes on to show that India as a nation is adaptable and agile, even in the middle of the pandemic,” he said.
The Prime Minister also stressed the need for insulating our planet against the next pandemic, and called upon the start-up community to take the lead in working with collective spirit and a human-centric approach to overcome this challenge.
Emphasising that France and Europe are among India’s key partners, he, referring to his conversations with French President Emmanuel Macron, in summit with EU leaders in Porto in May, said that the digital partnership, from start-ups to quantum computing, emerged as a key priority.
“History has shown that leadership in new technology drives economic strength, jobs and prosperity. But, our partnerships must also serve a larger purpose, in service of humanity. This pandemic is not only a test of our resilience, but also of our imagination. It is a chance to build a more inclusive, caring and sustainable future for all,” he said.