Sports stadium proves small for Modi’s Digital India launch

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes the centre stage for an event involving the corporate sector, it is not surprising that the who’s who of India Inc. would crowd there. On Wednesday, however, even a 15,000-capacity stadium here seemed trifle small for a venue when Modi launched the “Digital India Week” to empower citizens with the use of IT.

Amid loud cheers, applause and even sharp whistles, the prime minister appeared to be loving every moment of the two-hour event, as leader after leader from the corporate world pledged support for what is touted as one of his pet initiatives to touch the life of every citizen.

The prime minister spoke last. But he summed up in numbers what the corporate leaders promised — an investment of Rs.450,000 crore to create as many as 1.8 million additional jobs over the next five-seven years.

On a lighter note, he said some years ago when he would be in the midst of children, they would try to snatch his pen or spectacles. Today, however, they try to take away the mobile phones and similar devices. This, he said, also reflected how humans today were adapting to changes.

“Earlier human habitation came up by the sea or rivers. Later, it flourished by the national highway. In future it will come up alongside optical fibre network,” he asserted.

Industry leaders also showered praise on the social media aficionado Modi.

“We all know the prime minister is already India’s greatest and among the world’s most popular leaders in the digital space with over 80 lakh followers on Twitter and over three times that number — or 25 million followers — on Facebook,” said Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani.

“In other words, Digital India carries the signature of a leader whose name is synonymous with the transformational power of connectivity and communication,” he said, committing an investment of Rs.10,000 crore alone towards cloud-based services and telecom.
Modi at Digital India launch

According to Bharti Group’s Sunil Mittal: “PM Modi understands the power of technology and how it can transform the nation, connect the nation in shortest timeframe. Who better to lead it than our PM. This Digital India initiative can transform the nation in the shortest possible timeframe.”

In a similar vein, Reliance’s Mukesh Ambani congratulated the Modi government on “Digital India”.

“Normally, industry moves faster than government. But with digital India it is different. I have no hesitation in saying the government has moved faster. My warm congratulations to Ravi Shankar Prasad (communications and IT minister) and his entire team.”

Modi reiterated his government’s resolve not to allow the digital divide to become a barrier between people.

He outlined his vision of e-governance and mobile governance, where all important government services are available on the mobile phone.

“I dream of a digital India where high-speed digital highways unite the nation; 1.2 billion connected Indians drive innovation; technology ensures the citizen-government interface is incorruptible,” Modi said.

This vision of Digital India is centered on three key areas — digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen, services on demand, and digital empowerment of citizens.