The Digital India initiative has huge potential to empower the country and aid economic growth by harnessing technology, said finance minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday.
“This initiative will empower India by utilising the technology to the foremost. I have not the least doubt that the leaders of the industry from the world over present here wanting to invest billions and billions of dollars in this field, new job creation will take place and it will probably take India to a much greater height,” he said at the launch of ‘Digital India Week’.
Referring to the Jan-Dhan Yojana for financial inclusion, the minister said that the Digital India campaign too would have a huge potential.
“In a period of less than five months, we were able to open 160 million Jan Dhan accounts. The Direct Benefit Transfer extends to almost 130 million people and achieved in a matter of few months,” he said, adding that 110 million insurance policies started within a period of less than five weeks.
He stressed that the government would now work to make Digital India a way of life and governance in the country that would also help bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. “Look at the changes it is bringing world over. The largest retailers in the world today do not own a retail store and largest transport companies in the world do not own a vehicle. This is the power of technology,” Jaitley said, adding that over the next few years more people would bank through the Internet and cheques could become obsolete.
“We will see more banking done through the internet, done through payment gateways rather than brick and mortar branches of banks,” he said.
Technology would also play a key role in other sectors such as education, media, justice delivery system and healthcare.
Meanwhile, Jaitley further said that the country is no longer satisfied with the current rate of economic growth and said that double digit growth is essential to eradicate poverty.
“India is no longer satisfied being in the 6 to 8 per cent growth. It wants to transcend to another level and aim for 8 to 10 per cent growth…We wish to grow faster because we have a huge challenge of eradicating poverty ahead of us,” the minister stressed.
The economy grew at 7.3 per cent in 2014-15 and the government has targeted GDP growth between 7.5 per cent and 8 per cent for the current financial year.
The launch ceremony was attended by RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani, ADAG Chairman Anil Ambani, Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Mittal, Tata Group Chairman Cyrus P Mistry, Aditya Birla Group chief KM Birla and Wipro’s Azim Premji among others. Among the foreign entrepreneurs included Bernhard Gerwert, CEO of European consortium Airbus’ Defence and Space unit, and Ping Chang, CEO of Taiwanese company Delta Electronics.
“PM’s Digital India initiative would prove to be a significant step towards ‘One Connected India’ and generate employment, investments, FDIs,” said Anil Agarwal, the chairman of metal and mining conglomerate Vedanta Group in a tweet. “We are connecting Jammu & Kashmir through fiber network,” Agarwal said.
Wipro chairman Azim Premji said the launched initiative will have to ensure the services which are to be delivered should be affordable to the beneficiaries and should be delivered at their doorsteps.