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Remarks by External Affairs Minister at the Inauguration of Exhibition on “Rise of Digital India” in Colombo (6 February 2016)

February 06, 2016

Hon’ble Minister of Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure of Sri Lanka, Mr. Harin Fernando,
Senior Officials of the Government of Sri Lanka,
Distinguished invitees,

I am delighted to be in the beautiful city of Colombo once again. I was here in March last year, prior to the historic visit of our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, to Sri Lanka. The objective of my visit this time is to co-chair the India – Sri Lanka Joint Commission with Hon’ble Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Mr. Mangala Samaraweera, which I did yesterday. The Joint Commission provided the opportunity to comprehensively review our close bilateral partnership covering political, economic, cultural, defence and people-to-people ties. I also had good meetings with President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. I am confident that our discussions will help push our relations to a new level.

One of the issues that I discussed with Minister Samaraweera was the importance of information technology for the development of both our countries, and to take advantage of the opportunities that the new digital world offers. We felt that there are enormous opportunities of cooperation between the two countries in the field of information and digital technologies. India has made significant progress in the information technology sector and I conveyed our readiness to assist Sri Lanka in this sector. For example, we are ready to set up an Information Technology Park in Sri Lanka that could attract investments in this important sector, and both sides agreed to explore this issue further. I am aware that Sri Lanka too, has been focusing on promoting information and communication technologies for socio-economic development, and has achieved notable success in various fields.

In my country, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has placed "Digital India” at the heart of the nation’s development strategy. The "Digital India” initiative is one of the key measures to make government transparent, responsive and citizen friendly. The objective is to create a digitally empowered society and infuse technology into government, healthcare and education. Our Prime Minister has often spoken of his vision of a Digital India, wherein technology ensures that the Citizen-Government Interface is incorruptible and where the Netizen is an empowered Citizen.

I am, therefore, delighted to be inaugurating this Exhibition on ‘Rise of Digital India’ today. The exhibition showcases the phenomenal rise of digital technologies in India, and the use of computing and application of these digital technologies in a manner which has positively impacted the lives of millions of Indians in every area of contemporary relevance such as agriculture, power generation, weather forecasting, e-commerce, atomic energy, space, communication and e-governance.

I am happy to note that this Exhibition is a part of the first Festival of India in Sri Lanka, which is aptly titled, Sangam: a confluence of cultures. The Festival of India is a celebration of our shared civilizational heritage and will further strengthen the close links between our peoples and cultures. Various events will be held as part of the Festival during 2016.

India has immense civilizational strengths. Now, India is weaving modern technologies with these inherent strengths. From creating infrastructure to services, from manufacture of products to human resource development, from enabling citizens to promoting digital literacy, Digital India aims to impact all aspects of life in India.

Most recently, the Government has announced a list of 20 smart cities in India, with Bhubaneshwar in Odisha, leading the list, where information and communication technologies will be used to enhance quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to improve contact between citizens and government.

I would like to emphasize that building a Digital India is work in progress, and we will continue pursue this journey. Meanwhile, this Exhibition today is just a small glimpse of the vast strides that have already been made by our country in the last century. We are ready to share our competencies with our Sri Lankan brothers and sisters. It gives me immense pleasure to welcome our Sri Lankan friends to view this Exhibition.

Thank You.


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