[TechSparks 2020] IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad extols potential of India’s demographic dividend to build an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, power the Indian economy

At YourStory’s flagship event, TechSparks, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad speaks about the scope and role of startups in making the country self-reliant, and reveals why India must tap its demographic dividend and take its startup story from big cities to small towns.

“India is a huge country, with a population of 1.3 billion-plus people who have great innovation and enterprise, and are hardworking. And we have the great dividend of demography - young people,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Speaking at the 11th edition of YourStory’s flagship tech-entrepreneurship summit, TechSparks, the minister highlighted the role of startups in making India self-reliant. He said he saw great potential in youngsters in making India a thriving economy — a supplement to the global economy, and a very robust part of the global supply chain.

“The new-age economy is something we very strongly wish to leverage, from artificial intelligence, big data, and robotics to data cleaning and refining - all these have great potential. India very aptly qualifies to leverage all these great opportunities.

"Let us not forget, India's digital story is now globally talked about; our IT professionals are being globally appreciated. India has become the third biggest startup movement in the world in the last five years,” the minister told his virtual audience.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad speaking at TechSparks 2020

Earlier, in the wake of COVID-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had emphasised the need for India to become more self-reliant. He encouraged that products be made in India, for the world, and that we work towards building a nation that was not dependent on others in strategic sectors. 

The government recently launched an AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge aimed at identifying the best Indian apps in different categories. The challenge saw participation from about 6,940 tech entrepreneurs and startups across the country.

Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “We want India's digital story, the startup story, to travel from big cities to small towns. And therefore, we came up with a ‘Chunauti Scheme,’ whereby any innovative solutions in the field of digital education, agriculture, healthcare, skilling, technology, etc., would be recognised and given an encouragement of Rs 2.5 million.”

He added that the government had selected a good number of startups after scrutiny by a robust jury. These would be helped with guidance, including mentorship and venture funding, and ultimately pave the way for an Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

The Union Minister also spoke about the scope of growth of the gig economy in India. “We have recently changed a lot of our labour laws. The aim of these labour law reforms is to promote this economy.”

Watch IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad's full keynote address at TechSparks 2020.

For more information on TechSparks 2020, check out our TechSparks 2020 website. Sign up here to join the event. 

TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020. 

Edited by Teja Lele Desai