Maintaining that India’s app economy is “growing phenomenally”, Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday said that the country aims to surpass China and become the number one mobile phone manufacturing hub in the world.
He also said that data privacy is a fundamental right, and one needs to be “pragmatic” and do a “robust balancing” act.
Addressing the Late Thakur Prasad Centenary Memorial Lecture, a webinar organised by the NGO Atmabodh, Prasad said the government recently banned 59 apps for reasons of national security and data privacy. The Prime Minister, he said, asked for new Indian apps, “and 200 new applications have come”.
Pointing at the electronic manufacturing sector, he said: “In 2014, India had two units and now has 260. India has become the second biggest mobile manufacturing in the world from number 5. My ambition is to make it number 1, passing China as the biggest mobile manufacturing (hub).”
Presenting his case for “data sovereignty”, Prasad said: “In today’s world, data is a critical strategic asset. Therefore, the question arises: who will own the data? I have been advocating that data of Indians belongs to India, data of Indians belong to the community, and that data of Indians belong to the Indian sovereign. Under no circumstances should we tolerate data imperialism.”
He also said, “If people want to weaken India, they cannot take the shield of freedom of speech and freedom of privacy, etc.”
He said various government technologies in architectures — called “stacks” — will be the “powerhouse of data for India.”
During the coronavirus-induced lockdown, Prasad pointed out, high courts across the country handled 1.75 lakh cases through virtual hearings, district courts conducted hearings in more than 7 lakh cases, and Supreme Court in nearly 7,000 cases.
Speaking at the webinar, Chief Justice of Patna High Court Sanjay Kar said access to justice has remained open during the pandemic and states such as Bihar and Jharkhand have seen a rise of data consumption.
Anant Bijay Singh, judicial member, National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, spoke of the early moments of computerisation in Indian courts in 1992, stating there was initial resistance to digitisation but now courts are moving in that direction due to the pandemic.
The lecture was organised in memory of Thakur Prasad, the minister’s late father, who was a founding member of Bharatiya Jana Sangh and a lawyer in Patna High Court. Prasad described his father as a self-made man who focused on career as well as family, and whose blessings allowed him to excel in his own career.
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