CALLING data the new oil, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps to end increasing “data colonisation” by global corporations, saying Indians should own and control their own data.
Speaking at the 9th Vibrant Gujarat Summit here, Ambani also unveiled his plans of an e-commerce platform that would bring together its Jio and Reliance Retail ventures to “empower and enrich” an estimated 12 lakh small retailers and shopkeepers in Gujarat, part of over 3-crore community in India.”
“Data is the new wealth…India’s data must be controlled and owned by Indian people — and not by corporates, especially global corporations,” Ambani said.
“Today, we have to collectively launch a new movement against data colonisation. For India to succeed in this data-driven revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India — in other words, Indian wealth back to every Indian,” he said. “Honourable Prime Minister, I am sure you will make this one of the principal goals of your Digital India mission.”
Ambani urged Modi to lead a collective movement against “data colonisation” on the lines of Gandhi’s freedom movement against political colonisation.
In April last year, RBI had ordered companies to store “the entire data relating to payment systems operated by them… in a system only in India” so as to ensure “unfettered supervisory access” for “better monitoring”.
Ambani said Jio was committed to creating a fully digital Gujarat and making Gujarat “the best digitally connected state in India”. He said Gujarat was the showcase for Jio’s 4G wireless network.
Meanwhile, business leaders pledged investments worth over Rs 7 lakh crore on the inaugural day of the summit and praised Modi as a “man of action” who has “reshaped India.”
Ambani’s Reliance Communications runs a data centre with 6.5 lakh sq feet of hosting space. Gautam Adani also announced his group’s foray into the digital space pledging a 1GW data centre park in Mundra, Kutch.
Claiming that RIL had invested Rs 3 lakh crore and created over 10 lakh livelihood opportunities in Gujarat, Ambani said: “In comparison to the past decades, Reliance will double this investment and employment numbers over the next ten years.”
Ambani praised Modi — as he has done in previous editions of the summit — by saying that the credit for the “pioneering initiative and its subsequent replication” should go to the PM under whose “visionary” leadership, India is the fastest growing economy. “The entire world has come to recognize you as a man of action,” Ambani said.
Adani, who promised to invest Rs 55,000 crore and create 50,000 new direct and indirect jobs in Gujarat in the next five years, said: “While we all know you (Modi) are the architect who conceptualized the Vibrant Gujarat summit, nobody could have imagined how distant corners of the country would reflect on your dream and trigger a movement that would transform India’s industrial landscape…This summit had all your defining stamps – towering vision – unprecedented scale – strict governance – and flawless execution.”
Didier Casimiro, Vice President at Russian petro giant Rosneft said his company signed an MoU to invest $850 million for Phase-I of refinery expansion in Vadinar. Rosneft owns a majority stake in Nayara Energy that operates a refinery near Vadinar.
Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla pledged to invest Rs 15,000 crore in the state where he said his group has already made investments worth Rs 30,000 crore. Torrent Group’s Sudhir Mehta also pledged investments to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore in power distribution and renewable energy.
Toshihiro Suzuki, President of Suzuki Motor Corporation, said that his group’s second vehicle assembly plant in Gujarat would start shortly and the third in 2020. With this, its annual production capacity would be up to 750,000 units, he said.