A digitally connected India will bring “tremendous power” in the hands of citizens by connecting them to the rest of the world, Ratan Tata said on Friday, lauding the government’s Digital India programme.
“I’m delighted that the Prime Minister has decided to give so much preference and priority to the fact that India will be a digitised nation,” Tata said in Mumbai at the launch of an initiative to deepen Internet usage among rural women.
Tata Trusts, chaired by Ratan Tata, has tied up with Google and Intel to help women access the Internet in large numbers under this initiative.
“Internet will help educate India, will give access to livelihood to many women who do not have a formal livelihood, help reach out commerce to far parts of India,” he said.
The three-way initiative comes on the heels of Digital India programme launched on Wednesday by Narendra Modi, who pitched for a digital revolution in the country.
Modi also exhorted the industry to boost domestic production of electronic devices, which account for second largest imports, under the Make in India programme.
Country’s top industrial houses have pledged to invest over Rs. 4,50,000 crores under Digital India.
Reminiscing how people were forced to wait for up to 10 years to get a phone connection during his childhood, Tata said deeper penetration of the phone has empowered the entire population now.
Benefits in terms of finding one’s identity, self-respect and access to knowledge because of the phone are “unbelievable”, he said.
Executives from Google said even though growth in women users is out-pacing that of men in urban areas, women account for only a tenth of the total rural Internet users.
Under the Internet Saathi programme, 1,000 specially designed bicycles having connected devices will give villagers an experience of Internet over a period of four to six months.
The initiative aims to cover 4,500 villages over the next 18 months, starting with Gujarat, Rajasthan and Jharkhand and targets to reach out to about 500,000 women.