My colleague in the Union Cabinet Ravi Shankar Prasad, leaders from the Telecom Industry and other distinguished dignitaries,
It gives me great pleasure to be addressing you at the Indian Mobile Congress 2020. Here we have a gathering of the brightest minds in the telecom sector. This group has all the key players from the sector that has played a critical role in the recent past and is expected to lead India towards a more prosperous future.
Even as we experience the rapid speed at which connectivity is improving, we also know that the acceleration has just begun. Since the first ever telephone call was made, we have come a very long way. In fact, even 10 years back it was difficult to imagine the kind of impact the mobile revolution has had on our country, society and the world. And the future that lies ahead will make the present system appear primitive. In this context, it is important to think and plan how do we improve lives with the upcoming technology revolution Better healthcare, Better education, Better information and opportunities for our farmers, Better market access for small businesses are some of the goals we can work towards.
It is due to your innovation and efforts that the world was functional despite the pandemic It is due to your efforts that a son connected with his mother in a different city, a student learnt from his teacher without being in the classroom, a patient consulted his doctor from his home, a trader connected with a consumer from a different geography
It is due to your efforts that as the government, we are also working to unlock the full potential of the IT and Telecom sector. The new Other Services Provider guidelines will help the Indian IT services industry achieve new heights. It will boost growth of this sector even after the pandemic is long gone. This initiative will help to democratize the IT services industry and take it to the far corners of our country.
Today we are in the era where mobile apps which are a few years old are surpassing the value of companies which are present since decades. This is a good sign for India and our young innovators too. Our youth are working on many products which have the potential to go global.
A lot of young techies tell me that it is the Code which makes a product special. Some entrepreneurs tell me that it is Concept which matters more. Investors suggest that it is Capital which is important to scale a product. But often, what matters the most is the Conviction the youngsters have on their product. Sometimes conviction is all that stands between just a profitable exit and making of a unicorn. So, my message to my young friends would be to have faith in their potential as well as products.
Today we are a country of a billion plus phone users. Today We have a billion plus people with unique digital identity. Today we have over 750 million internet users. The scale and speed of internet penetration can be seen by the following facts: Half of the total internet users in India were added in the last 4 years. Half of the total internet users are in our rural areas. Our digital size and our digital appetite are unprecedented. We are a country where the tariffs are the lowest in the world. We are one of the fastest growing mobile app market in the world. The digital potential of our nation is unparalleled, perhaps even in the history of mankind.
It is because of mobile technology that we are able to provide benefits worth billions of dollars to millions and millions. It is because of mobile technology that we are able to help poor and vulnerable quickly during the pandemic. It is because of mobile technology that seeing billions of cashless transactions which boost formalisation and transparency. It is because of mobile technology that we will enable smooth contactless interface on toll booths. It is also with the help of mobile technology that we will embark on one of the world’s largest covid-19 vaccination drive.
We have achieved much success in mobile manufacturing in India. India is emerging as one of the most preferred destinations for mobile manufacturing. We have also come up with the Production Linked Incentive scheme to promote telecom equipment manufacturing in India. Let us work together to make India a global hub for telecom equipment, design, development and manufacturing.
We are embarking on a plan to ensure that over the next three years every village will have high speed fibre-optic connectivity. We have already linked up the Andaman and Nicobar Island with fiber optic cable. We are coming out with programmes that focus exclusively on places which can make the best out of such connectivity – Aspirational Districts, Left wing extremism affected districts, North Eastern states, Lakshadweep Islands etc. We are keen to ensure greater spread of fixed line broadband connectivity and public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Due to technological upgradation, we have a culture of replacing handsets and gadgets frequently. Can the industry form a task-force to think of better ways of handling the electronic waste & create a circular economy.
As I said earlier, this is just the beginning. The future holds great potential with the rapid technology progress. We need to work together to ensure a timely roll-out of 5G to leapfrog into the future and empower millions of Indians. I hope that this conclave will ponder on all such matters and come out with fruitful outcomes that will take us forward in developing this critical infrastructure.
I wish you all the very best.