At the launch of a two-day festival on drones, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday hailed the use of technology in the past eight years as a “bridge” for reaching government benefits to the poor and mocked those who create “fear” about it. He said that while technology was earlier seen as anti-poor, under him its use had proliferated among the masses, instead of being the preserve of the few.
“This is a festival not just of technology, but of new India, new governance and unprecedented positivity. Eight years ago, when we implemented minimum government and maximum governance and made ease of living and ease of doing business our priority, we walked on the path of sabka saath, sabka vikas to connect every individual to the government,” the PM said at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi.
Over 1,600 delegates comprising senior Ministers, government officials, foreign diplomats, armed forces, the Central Armed Police Forces, public sector undertakings, private companies and drone start-ups were present at the event.
He said his government had ensured that technology was used to bridge the gap in service delivery and change the belief that it was meant only for the rich. It was his dream to see a mobile phone in every hand, a drone in every farm and prosperity in every house, he said. He also took a dig at those who criticised the government’s reliance on technology.
“Some people create fear around technology. A long time ago when people relied on clock towers, who would have thought there would be a watch on every wrist. Maybe some people want to erect clocktowers again. We will have to change ourselves, only then is progress possible,” the PM told the gathering.
The government had received flak for stepping up surveillance by making Aadhaar mandatory for receiving government benefits, and more recently by bringing in the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 for identifying offenders, suspects, undertrials, among others. “We don’t deny that technology doesn’t create disruption. But it also opens new doors.”
Mr. Modi said that before 2014, technology was seen as part of a problem, which was a loss for the poor, the middle class, and those full of aspirations. Technology had ensured last-mile delivery and saturation of government schemes, he said. The “trinity” of Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and mobile had helped the government deliver schemes with complete transparency and this was how the government ensured delivery of free rations to 80 crore citizens during COVID-19 and carried out the world’s biggest vaccination drive. Drones took this promise of ease of living forward and would be yet another tool in the hands of the common man, said the PM. “Be it urban or rural areas, agriculture fields or playfields, defence works or disaster management, the use of drones in the country will only increase.”
He elaborated on the various uses of drones by the government such as under the Swamitva scheme for mapping properties through which 65 lakh digital property cards had been given, precision farming as well as for maintaining law and order.
The PM also interacted with drone pilots, witnessed open-air drone demonstrations, interacted with start-ups in the drone exhibition centre and gave away 150 drone pilot certificates. Over 70 drone companies are participating in the two-day exhibition.