My cabinet colleague Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad ji, Chief Minister of Karnataka Shri BS Yeddyrupa ji and all my dear friends from the tech world. It is also fitting that technology is helping organise this important summit on technology.
Friends, we launched Digital India Mission 5 years back. Today, I am glad to say that Digital India is no longer being seen as any regular Government initiative. Digital India has become a way of life. Particularly, for the poor, marginalised and for those in Government. Thanks to Digital India, our nation has witnessed a more human centric approach to development. Using technology on such a large scale has brought about several life changes for our citizens. The benefits are for everyone to see.
Our government has successfully created a market for digital and tech solutions, but it has made technology a key part of all schemes. Our governance model is technology first. Through technology, we have enhanced human dignity. Millions of farmers receive monetary support in one click. At the peak of the Covid-19 lockdown, it was technology that ensured that India's poor received proper and quick assistance. The scale of this relief has few parallels. If India is successfully operating the world's largest Healthcare scheme, Ayushman Bharat, it is due to a big role of technology. This scheme has specially helped the poor of India. Now, they no longer have to worry about access to top quality and affordable healthcare in any part of India.
Our Government has used the power of data analytics to ensure better service delivery and efficiency. Internet came to India around 25 years ago. As per a report, the number of internet connections recently crossed the 750 million milestone. But do you know that over half of these numbers joined in the last four years only? Technology is the prime reason our schemes have gone beyond files and changed lives of the people at such a speed and scale. Today, when we are able to help the poor build their home at an unprecedented scale, speed and transparency, it is thanks to technology. Today, when we are able to provide electricity to almost all households, technology has played a key role. Today, when we are able to cross toll booths faster, it is due to technology. Today, it is also technology which gives us the confidence that we will be able to vaccinate our large population in a short period of time.
Friends, When it comes to technology, the way ahead lies in learning and growing together. Inspired by that approach, a number of incubation centres are opening in India. Over the last few years, a great culture of hackathons has developed in India. I have attended some of them too. Our young minds come together and think of ways to solve key challenges our country and planet faces. Similar hackathons have been help in collaboration with Singapore and ASEAN nations. The Government of India is providing support to our vibrant start-up community, whose skill and success are now world famous.
Friends, We have often heard that: प्रतिकूल परिस्थितियाँ प्रतिभा बाहर लाने का प्रभाव रखती है. Challenges bring out the best in people. Perhaps it is relevant for many of India's techies . When there is a demanding customer or there are pressing deadlines, you would have seen that, some talents which even you did not know about, start coming out. Global lockdowns, travel restrictions have constrained people inside their homes, away from their places of work. At such a time, the resilience of our tech sector was seen. Our tech sector came into action and used tech solutions to keep work going on, from home and from anywhere. The tech industry recognised a great innovation opportunity in bringing people together.
The Covid-19 pandemic was a bend in the path not the end - ये तो रास्ते का एक Bend था, End नहीं! The amount of tech adoption that would not have happened in a decade, happened in just a few months. Work from anywhere has become the norm and is going to stay. We will see a high amount of tech adoption in the fields of education, health, shopping and more. Since, I have the opportunity to directly engage with some of the most brilliant minds in the tech-world, I want to confidently say. Thanks to your efforts, we can certainly make the user experience better using technology to make the physical-digital convergence seamless . We can surely further make the tech tools more user friendly.
Friends, Achievements of the industrial era are in the rear view mirror, and now, we are in the middle of information era. Future is coming sooner than anticipated, we should quickly shed the bygone era's thinking. In the industrial era, change was linear. But in the information era, change is disruptive and big. In the industrial era, first-mover advantage was everything. In the information era, first-mover does not matter, the best-mover does. Anyone can make a product any time that disrupts all existing equations of the market.
In the industrial era, boundaries mattered. But the information era is about going beyond boundaries. In the industrial era, sourcing raw material was a key challenge and only a few had access to it. In the information era, the raw material, which is information, is everywhere in front of us, and everyone has access to it. India as a country is uniquely positioned to leap ahead in the information era. We have the best minds as well as the biggest market. Our local tech solutions have the potential to go global. India is at a sweet spot. It is time for tech-solutions that are Designed in India but Deployed for the World.
Friends, Our policy decisions are always aimed at liberalising tech and innovations industry. Recently, as you might have heard, we have eased the compliance burden on the IT industry in various ways. Besides that, we have always tried to engage with stakeholders in the tech industry and chart out future-proof policy frameworks for India. You all are the drivers of this industry. Can we make a conscious attempt to take our product-level innovations to the next level? A framework-level mindset has the potential to build an eco-system of multiple successful products. Creating a framework is like teaching many people to fish and also enabling them with a fishing net and a lake full of fish!
One such example of a framework-level mindset was UPI. Conventional product-level thinking would have meant we would come out with just a digital payment product. Instead, we provided India with UPI, an umbrella platform where everyone can host their digital payment products and plug-in digital payments. This empowered many products. Last month recorded more than 2 billion transactions. We are doing something similar with the National Digital Health Mission. Some of you may have also heard about the SVAMITVA scheme. It is an ambitious scheme to give land-titles to millions of people in our rural areas. This will also be achieved through technology like drones . This will not only bring an end to many disputes but also empower people. Once the property rights are given, technology solutions can ensure prosperity .
Friends, Technology is setting the pace for the defence sector to evolve. Earlier wars were determined by who had better horses and elephants. Then came the era of fire-power. Now, technology is playing a very important role in global conflicts. From software to drones to UAVs, technology is redefining the defence sector.
Friends, With the rapid increase of tech use, data protection as well as cyber security become very important. Our youth can play a big role in devising robust cyber security solutions. These solutions can effectively vaccinate digital products against cyber-attacks and viruses. Today our Fintech industry is doing very well. Millions of people are doing transactions without any hesitation. This is because of people's trust, which is very important to be preserved and made stronger. A sound data governance framework is also our priority.
Friends, While today I focused mainly on information technology, the scope and need for innovation is as relevant in the fields of science as well. Be it bio-sciences or engineering, innovation is the key to progress. India has a clear advantage when it comes to innovation. Because of the talent of our youth and their zeal to innovate.
Friends, the potential of our youth and possibilities of technology are endless. It is time, we give our best and leverage them. I am confident that our IT sector will keep making us proud. Thank you very much.