digital: Will focus on bridging digital divide during G20 presidency, says Prime Minister Modi

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During India‘s G20 presidency, the focus will be on bridging the digital divide, especially in developing countries, and ensuring greater benefits from digital technologies and transformation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said.

Addressing a session on digital transformation at the Bali summit on Wednesday, Modi urged other G20 leaders to pledge that they would work together for digital inclusion over the next decade. “The principle of ‘data for development’ will be an integral part of the overall theme of our presidency, ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’,” he said.

“In India, we are making digital access public but at the international level, there is still a huge digital divide. Citizens of most developing countries of the world do not have any kind of digital identity. Only 50 countries have digital payment systems,” he said.

During the G20 presidency in 2023, India will work jointly with partners in the grouping of the world’s 20 largest economies to achieve the objective. Modi described digital transformation as the “most remarkable change of our era” and said the proper use of digital technologies can be a force multiplier in the fight against poverty. “Digital solutions can also be helpful in the fight against climate change – as we all saw in the examples of remote-working and paperless green offices during Covid,” he said.

“These benefits will be realised only when digital access is truly inclusive and when use of digital technology is widespread. “Unfortunately, till now we have seen this powerful tool only from the criteria of simple business, keeping this power tied in the ledgers of profit and loss,” he said.

Modi said G20 leaders were responsible for ensuring that benefits of digital transformation were not confined to a small part of the human race. “India’s experience of the past few years has shown us that if we make digital architecture inclusive, it can bring about socio-economic transformation. Digital use can bring scale and speed. Transparency can be brought in governance,” he said, noting that India has developed digital public goods whose “basic architecture has in-built democratic principles.”

These solutions are based on open source, open APIs and open standards that are interoperable and public. “This is our approach based on the digital revolution that is going on in India today,” he said. The PM said more than 40% of the world’s real-time payment transactions last year were done through India’s unified payment interface. India opened 460 million new bank accounts using digital identity, making the country a leader in financial inclusion. The open source CoWIN platform ensured the success of the largest vaccination campaign, he said.

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