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Ravi Shankar Prasad Urges South Asia to Follow India’s Model of Digitisation

March 28, 2017

New Delhi: Terming digital connectivity as a prerequisite for development of South Asia, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Hon’ble Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India, today urged the neighbouring countries to take a cue from India's model of improving governance and empowering the poor through digital mechanisms.

The Minister was delivering the Keynote Address at the 10th South Asia Conference on ‘Strengthening Connectivity in South Asia’, organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) on March 28-29, 2017.

Backed by initiatives like ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’ and ‘Startup India’, the nation is at the cusp of a big transformation, said the Minister. The aim is to spread digital services to provide people with good governance, as trusting them with digital technology can lead to awareness and empowerment, he added.

Home to the largest chunk of South Asia’s aspirational population, the Minister noted that the challenges and aspirations of the people in the region were the same, though they might differ in degree. “Growth is important, but equity is also equally important”, he added.

Speaking on ‘Digital India’, Shri Prasad said that the initiative is designed to bridge the divide between the digital haves and have nots. ‘Digital India’ has three major components – it has to be affordable, inclusive, and development-oriented, he observed.

Insisting that the government’s key aim is to continue the process of digital inclusion through the proliferation of digital literacy, Shri Prasad noted that e-literacy is being pushed in a big way through government-funded programmes.

Speaking further on the positive impact of digitisation on the under-privileged, the Minister said that through the Jandhan-Aadhar-Mobile trinity, the poor have been able to have direct access to government subsidies.

With the government’s emphasis on electronics manufacturing, India has established a number of new mobile phone manufacturing centres in the last one year, and with conducive policy initiatives, the country aims to become a global electronics manufacturing hub, he added.

Earlier, speaking at the inaugural session, Director General, IDSA, Shri Jayant Prasad, noted that connectivity lies at the core of regional cooperation and integration, as its key enabler. An effective roadmap for building the regional public goods (RPGs) of connectivity and infrastructure will require four core areas to be addressed - institutional design, financing, sequencing, and measurement, he added.

The two-day annual conference is being attended by a cross-section of policy makers, academics, civil society actors and young professionals from the whole of South Asian region.