President Pranab Mukherjee stresses on sharing benefits of digital revolution with rural India

21st Nov 2015
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President Pranab Mukherjee called for harnessing digital revolution backed by innovations to meet the needs of people in the rural areas and said that one need not wait for big companies or the government to think up solutions to every problem. He also said that India "cannot afford" a digital divide in society if it is to become economically stronger.


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"There is a need to reach every household in rural areas to provide them affordable preventive as well as curative healthcare services. How do we connect small farmers, entrepreneurs in our small towns and villages with banks to enable them to participate in the economic development of the country more vigorously? The solution lies in harnessing the digital revolution backed by innovations. The digital revolution has in a way decentralised the governance. One does not necessarily need a very big company or even the government to think and bring solutions to all the problems," Mukherjee said during an interaction with the 10 top teams in the 'Innovate for Digital India Challenge', which had called on him at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

The President stressed that India needs innovation to tackle various challenges in the fields of education, healthcare, financial inclusion and service delivery even as he noted that the country faces the challenge of "scalability and mass applicability of solutions to the problems of public concern". He said that some mechanism needs to be found so that more than one million digitally-educated people can join in the progress of the country to enable the skill requirement of the industry to be met.

"Today, any innovation happening anywhere in the country or world can be replicated and adopted suitably on a large scale," he said, adding that the Indian civilisation is known for innovations. He expressed happiness that the government had joined hands with IT giants like Intel and academic institutions like IIM-Ahmedabad to crowd-source ideas and incubate, fund and mentor them to make them workable and replicable.

"Bright ideas may come from a single source, but to see it fructify is our collective responsibility," he said. Talking about the 'Digital India' campaign of the government, he said it aims to work towards extending digital infrastructure as a service to the citizens and providing governance and services on demand while digitally empowering citizens.

"These are very ambitious but desirable goals. The National Optical Fibre Network started in 2011 aims to bring broadband services to all the gram panchayats in the country by next year end," he said, adding that this connectivity would enable the hinterland of our country to become part of the digital revolution and benefit from it.

Another important goal, of spreading digital literacy and education, will have to be pursued vigorously because "we cannot afford digital divide in our society if we aspire to become economically stronger and inclusive". The third and most important goal, of providing services on demand, will require innovation to build solutions, test them and make them popular. This certainly calls for the coming together of the government, individuals, academics and research institutions and entrepreneurs, he said.

Image Credit : Flickr


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