Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually addressed the 5th edition of VivaTech on Wednesday, June 16. VivaTech 2021 is one of the largest digital and startup events in Europe and is held in Paris every year since 2016.
Speaking at the event, PM Modi stressed the need for insulating our planet against the next pandemic. He also said that digital technology helped people cope, connect, comfort and console during the pandemic.
Technology and digital: Emerging areas of cooperation
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India and France have been working closely on a wide range of subjects, including technology and digital, which are the emerging areas of cooperation. He mentioned that Infosys, an Indian tech-based company, provided tech support in the recently concluded French Open tournament. Similarly, Atos, a French company has been involved in a project for making the fastest super computer in India.
“Whether it is France’s Capgemini or India’s TCS and Wipro, our IT talent is serving companies and citizens all over the world,” PM Modi added.
Innovation amid the pandemic
During his address, PM Modi said that the Covid-19 pandemic put conventional methods to test. However, innovation came to the rescue of all. He pointed out that ‘where convention fails, innovation helps’.
PM Modi stressed two aspects of innovation- ‘innovation before the pandemic’ and ‘innovation during the pandemic’.
By innovation before the pandemic, PM Modi referred to the pre-existing advances which helped us during the pandemic. “Digital technology helped us cope, connect, comfort and console. Through digital media, we could work, talk with our loved ones, and help others,” said the Prime Minister.
He further added that India’s universal and unique bio-metric digital identity system, Aadhar helped to provide timely financial support to the poor.
“We could supply free food to 800 million people, and deliver cooking-fuel subsidies to many households. We in India were able to operationalise two public digital education programes- Swayam and Diksha – in quick time to help students,” PM Modi was quoted as saying.
PM Modi also praised the role of the start-up sector in meeting the challenge of the pandemic. The private sector played a key role in addressing the shortage of PPE kits, masks, testing kits etc.
He also pointed out that doctors adopted tele-medicine in a big way to virtually address some Covid and other non-Covid issues. Further, he added that two vaccines are being made in India and more are in the development or trial stage.
The Prime Minister also indicated that the indigenous IT platform, Aarogya-Setu enabled effective contact tracing. The COWIN digital platform has already helped ensure vaccines to millions.
“Had we not been innovating, then our fight against COVID-19 would have been much weaker. We must not abandon this innovative zeal so that we are even better prepared when the next challenge strikes,” the PM said.
PM Modi invited the world to invest in India based on the five pillars of ‘Talent’, ‘Market’, ‘Capital’, ‘Eco-system’ and ‘Culture of openness’. He also added that India is home to one of the world’s largest start-up ecosystems.
“Today, India has 1.18 billion mobile phones and 775 million internet users. This is more than the population of several nations. Data consumption in India is among the highest and cheapest in the world. Indians are the largest users of social media. There is a diverse and extensive market that awaits you,” said the Prime Minister.
Enumerating initiatives like state-of-the-art public digital infrastructure, PM Modi said that 523 thousand kilometres of fibre optic network is linking 156 thousand village councils in the country. Further, public wi-fi networks across the country will also be introduced.
He also said that the country is actively working to nurture a culture of innovation and 7,500 schools under the Atal Innovation Mission have state-of-the-art innovation labs.
Repair and prepare
“Over the past year, we have witnessed a lot of disruption in different sectors. Much of it is still there. Yet, disruption does not have to mean despair. Instead, we must keep the focus on the twin foundations of repair and prepare,” said PM Modi on the need to repair health infrastructure and the economies.
“This time last year, the world was still seeking a vaccine. Today, we have quite a few. Similarly, we have to continue repairing health infrastructure and our economies. We in India implemented huge reforms across sectors, be it mining, space, banking, atomic energy and more. This goes on to show that India as a nation is adaptable and agile, even in the middle of the pandemic,” PM Modi said.
PM Modi also stressed the need to insulate the planet against the next pandemic. He said, “Ensuring we focus on sustainable lifestyles that stop ecological degradation. Strengthening cooperation in furthering research as well as innovation.”
He also called upon the start-up community to take the lead in working with collective spirit and a human-centric approach to overcome this challenge.
“The start-up space is dominated by youngsters. These are people free from the baggage of the past. They are best placed to power global transformation. Our start-ups must explore areas such as: healthcare, eco-friendly technology including waste recycling, agriculture, new-age tools of learning,” said the Prime Minister.
PM Narendra Modi emphasized that France and Europe are among India’s key partners. Referring to his conversations with President Macron, in summit with EU leaders in Porto in May, the Prime Minister said that digital partnership, from start-ups to quantum computing, emerged as a key priority. “History has shown that leadership in new technology drives economic strength, jobs and prosperity. But, our partnerships must also serve a larger purpose, in service of humanity. This pandemic is not only a test of our resilience, but also of our imagination. It is a chance to build a more inclusive, caring and sustainable future for all,” concluded the Prime Minister.