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Technology can play big role in agriculture, education, health: PM Narendra Modi in interaction with Bill Gates

In an interaction with philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Modi said he used to hear of digital divide in the world and had decided that he will not allow this to happen in India

PTI New Delhi Published 29.03.24, 10:19 AM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates during a meeting at his residence, in New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates during a meeting at his residence, in New Delhi PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday identified agriculture, education and health as three sectors where he is most excited about the use of technology, and highlighted related efforts of his government in these fields.

In an interaction with philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on a host of issues, including technology, its use in different sectors and climate change, Modi said he used to hear of digital divide in the world and had decided that he will not allow this to happen in India.


He also said he wants to allocate funds to scientists for local research in cervical cancer to develop vaccines at a minimal cost and that his new government will work to ensure vaccination, especially for all girls, against the serious disease.

Modi has frequently expressed confidence that the ruling BJP will get a big majority in the general elections and he will return to power for a third straight term.

There is a requirement for digital public infrastructure, the prime minister said, with Gates praising India's adoption of technology and saying India is leading the way.

Modi noted that there is a significant risk of misuse of a powerful technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI), especially when placed in unskilled hands, and suggested that AI-generated content should carry clear watermarks to prevent misinformation.

This is not meant to devalue AI creations but recognising them for what they are, the prime minister said. He said there is a need to establish some dos and don'ts.

"In the case of deepfakes, it is crucial to acknowledge and present that a particular deepfake content is AI-generated along with the mention of its source. These measures are really important, especially in the beginning," he asserted.

Discussing the issue of AI, he said it should not be seen as a magic tool or something people should resort to out of their laziness to do some work.

Modi explained how he used AI in the G20 Summit as interpreter and also to broadcast his addresses in different languages in several events. A technology like ChatGPT should be used to constantly improve oneself, he added.

Highlighting his use of AI, Modi asked Gates to take a selfie through his (NaMo) app and then showed him how it could be located through the face-recognition technology.

Discussing the issue of climate change, Modi said the world needs to change parameters like use of electricity or steel to define development as it is anti-climate and should instead adopt terminologies like green GDP and green employment.

Recycling and reuse have been part of Indians' nature, he said, mentioning that the jacket he was wearing was a recycled product.

Modi said he believes in leveraging technology not just to enhance services but also to significantly improve the ease of living for citizens.

The prime minister said his government initiated storage of all university certificates in cloud storage to reduce costs and to fulfil various needs efficiently.

"Earlier, there was a push for stringent compliance requirements. But I advocated and ensured simplification, and made certain that data is uploaded to cloud (storage) with shared IDs, enabling us to access necessary information directly," Modi said.

Data security remains a paramount concern, he said and added that India has a legal framework in place but public awareness is equally crucial.

The prime minister reiterated that he wanted to lead a government in which any unnecessary governmental intervention from the lives of people is eliminated.

For those in poverty, who genuinely require government assistance, the assistance should be readily available in abundance, he added.

He said India has been making rapid advancement in the field of renewable energy and is working to boost its growth in green hydrogen.

Modi credited "democratisation of technology" to rule out any monopoly for digital revolution in India as it gives everyone an equal opportunity.

"It is by the people and for the people. We are committed to ensure that emerging talent from within the community can continuously contribute and enhance its value to foster trust in technology among people," he said.

He added that he is taking technology to villages and cited linking up of over two lakh health centres to the best of hospitals with technology to ensure quality treatment of people.

To a query from Gates, Prime Minister Modi said he is fascinated by technology but is not a slave to it. "I am not an expert but have childlike curiosity for technology," he said.

On the digital revolution in India, the prime minister said he believed that nobody should have monopoly over it and it should be driven by the common people.

In this context, he highlighted the "Drone Didi" scheme for women to use drones in agriculture and the initiative to provide long-distance treatment to patients.

Technology can help make agriculture modern and scientific, and is being used to plug the shortcomings of teachers in education as well, Modi said.

He said digital technology will have a big role in the fourth industrial revolution and he is confident that India will do well.

Modi noted as to how India used the CoWin platform to provide Covid vaccination slots and certificates to people while the world was struggling to do it during the pandemic.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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