PM Modi delivering keynote address at The Sydney Dialogue through virtual mode on Nov 18

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who called his invitation to deliver the keynote address at the inaugural Sydney Dialogue as recognition of India’s central role in the Indo-Pacific region on Thursday described India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership as a force of good for the region and the world.

Speaking on the focus of the Sydney Dialogue, ‘Emerging, Critical and Cyber Technologies’, he said: “We are in a time of change that happens once in an era. The digital age is changing everything around us. It has redefined politics, economy and society.”

Lending more focus on how technologies are reshaping every aspect of human society and existence, he said, “It is raising new questions on sovereignty, governance, ethics, law, rights and security. It is reshaping international competition, power and leadership. It has ushered in a new era of opportunities for progress and prosperity.”

But then, with the emergence of new technologies, “We also face new risks and new forms of conflicts across diverse threats from sea-bed to cyber to space. Technology has already become a major instrument of global competition and key to shaping the future international order. Technology and data are becoming new weapons. The biggest strength of democracy is openness. At the same time, we should not allow a few vested interests to misuse this openness,” he said.

The Prime Minister said India is ready to work with partners for their common shared prosperity and security.

“India's digital revolution is rooted in our democracy, our demography, and the scale of our economy. It is powered by the enterprise and innovation of our youth,” Prime Minister Modi said.

“We are turning the challenges of the past into an opportunity to take a leap into the future. There are five important transitions taking place in India. One, we are building the world's most extensive public information infrastructure,” he added.

“Over 1.3 billion Indians have a unique digital identity. We are on our way to connect six hundred thousand villages with broadband. We have built the world's most efficient payment infrastructure, the UPI. Over 800 million Indians use the internet; 750 million are on smart-phones,” he informed.

“We are one of the largest consumers of data per capita and have one of the cheapest data in the world. Two, we are transforming the lives of the people by using digital technology for governance, inclusion, empowerment, connectivity, delivery of benefits and welfare,” he added.

“Everyone has heard of India's financial inclusion, banking and digital payment revolution. Recently, we have used technology to deliver over 1.1 billion doses of vaccines, across India's vast geography using ArogyaSetu and Cowin platforms,” the Prime Minister maintained.

“We are also building a National Digital Health Mission for affordable and universal healthcare for our billion plus people. Our One Nation, One Card will deliver benefits to the hundreds of millions of workers anywhere in the country. India has the world's third largest and fastest growing startup ecosystem. New unicorns are coming up every few weeks. They are providing solutions to everything from health and education to national security, Prime Minister Modi informed.

He said even India's industry, services sectors and agriculture, are undergoing massive digital transformation.

“We are also using digital technology for clean energy transition, conversion of resources and protection of biodiversity,” the Prime Minister said.

“There is a large effort to prepare India for the future. We are investing in developing indigenous capabilities in telecom technology such as 5G and 6G.India is one of the leading nations in artificial intelligence and machine learning, especially in human-centred and ethical use of artificial intelligence. We are developing strong capabilities in Cloud platforms and cloud computing,” he added.

“We are building world class capabilities in quantum computing. India's Space programme is a vital part of our economy and security. It is now open to innovation and investment from the private sector,” he informed.

Maintaining that India is already a major centre for providing cyber security solutions and services to corporates around the world, he said: “We have set up a Task Force with our industry to make India a global hub for cyber security. We have the benefit of our skills and global trust.And now, we are focusing on hardware. We are preparing a package of incentives to become a key manufacturer of semiconductors. Our production linked incentive schemes in electronics and telecom are already attracting local and global players to set up bases in India.”

The Prime Minister said that the greatest product of technology today is data.

“In India, we have created a robust framework of data protection, privacy and security. And, at the same time, we use data as a source of empowerment for people. India has unmatched experience in doing this in a democratic framework with strong guarantees of individual rights,” he said.