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Atmanirbhar Bharat does not mean an isolated India, says Ravi Shankar Prasad

Ravi Shankar Prasad

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said that an Atmanirbhar Bharat does not mean an isolated India, but it means India as a major economy of the world becoming a part of the global supply chain, where Indian innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders will play a significant role. Prasad was speaking at the Bengaluru Tech Summit 2020. 

Prasad said that the government is keen to promote India as a data economy.

“Data is going to drive digital economy and the data is going to drive the international intercourse of commerce too. India produces huge data [through] 1.3 billion people, 1.21 billion mobile phones and 1.26 billion Aadhaar. All these digital ecosystem is producing data, we are going to have a data protection law going to be finalised very soon. India is waiting for its moment for data economy, data economy, data cleaning and data refinery,” he said.

Prasad touts electronics manufacturing subsidy, AI, DBT

In April this year, the government announced a Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for large scale electronics manufacturing in a bid to boost indigenous manufacturing and exports in the coming years. Earlier this month, the government extended the PLI scheme to another ten sectors like telecom, bio-tech, electronic components among others.

“The last date of application was July 31, 2020 and major global champion companies have come to India, including India’s national champions. They have committed to invest close to Rs 11 lakh crore in the coming five years and they propose to manufacture mobile and components. Out of which, Rs 7 lakh crore will be only for exports,” Prasad said. He added that Apple has come to India and during COVID-19, around 9 of their operating units from China were shifted to India.

“Even during the pandemic, the communications and information-technology received 7%-plus growth and massive foreign investment be it from Google, Facebook or Amazon and all, because they are trusting India’s digital story,” Prasad said.

Going forward, Prasad said that the government wants to encourage artificial intelligence (AI) development in the country in a very big way. In June 2018, the governments’ think-tank Niti Aayog released a discussion paper on a National Strategy on AI. This was followed by a committee under the Department of Telecommunications releasing a draft framework of for the India AI Stack in September this year.

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“But what is important is AI should also encourage inclusion of India, empowerment of ordinary people in the field of agriculture, in the field of education and in the field of delivery. AI must also not ignore the ethical values of India because human mind, its values and emotions are equally important,” he said.

Prasad also spoke of the benefits of technology in government welfare programs, stating that under Direct Benefit Transfer the government has transferred over Rs 12 lakh crore directly into the banks account of the poor.

“Digital India is designed to empower ordinary Indians with technology. Both digital India should lead to inclusion and the instruments should be homegrown…People in India are coming to have great trust in the digital transformation of India as it encourages the empowerment of ordinary people,” Prasad said.

In February this year, MediaNama reported that around 2% of all DBT transactions between April 1 and October 31, 2018, worth around ₹2 crore, across 7 schemes of the Ministry of Labour and Employment failed.

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