Visits Visits

Transcript of Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson in New York on Prime Minister’s ongoing visit to USA (September 23, 2015)

September 24, 2015

Official Spokesperson (Shri Vikas Swarup): Welcome to this press briefing on the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States. I am flanked by two of India’s most senior and distinguished diplomats. On my left is Ambassador Arun Singh, Ambassador to the United States. On my right is Ambassador Ashok Mukerji, our PR to the United Nations.

As you know, the Prime Minister’s visit will focus on the UN leg of the visit and then on the bilateral side of India-US relations. The idea is to give you a broad-brush picture of what the Prime Minister’s programme looks like from today till the 28th when he leaves the United States. Then, if you have specific questions pertaining to the programme, I have the two Ambassadors to address those.

Tomorrow, the Prime Minister’s programme will begin with a round table on the financial sector.This is an important meeting. It will have a lot of FIIs who are keen to invest in India, some of whom have already invested in India. This will happen at 9:30 a.m. in the hotel itself. Then there are a couple of bilateral meeting slots which are yet to be finalized.

Then we have a round table on Media, Technology and Communications : Growth Story for India at 2:30 p.m. This is primarily being coordinated by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation but it will have CEOs from other media entities as well. The idea is, how do we leverage India’s growth story with the media and through modern communication technologies.

Then there is a bilateral meeting between the Prime Minister and the President of Guyana, His Excellency Mr. David A. Granger. Thereafter, there is a call on by Mr. Ajay Banga, Chairman of the US-India Business Council and member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.In the evening, there is a call on by Mr. Michael Bloomberg and a call on by Ms. Marillyn A. Hewson, Chairman, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation. There is also a call on by the CEO of AECOM which is a major infrastructure company. The evening concludes with a very important dinner with some of the top Fortune 500 CEOs.The Ambassador will give you more details of that but this is going to be a major push for the Make In India programme.

The next day, Friday the 25th, there are some bilateral meetings. Some of them are still in the process of being worked out. I will just give you the details of those which have already been confirmed. There is a meeting with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan. Thereafter, there is a call on by Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General at 12 o’clock. At 12:45, we expect Prime Minister’s Statement at the UN Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda. After that, there is a bilateral meeting scheduled with the Prime Minister of Bhutan.There is a meeting with the Prime Minister of Sweden. There is a meeting with the President of Cyprus. That concludes the programme for the 25th.

Saturday, the 26th September, will begin with a very important engagement.This is the G4 Summit. As you know, India, Japan, Brazil and Germany are the four G4 countries which have taken the lead for pressing for UN Security Council reform. After 2004, this is the first time that a G4 summit is being held and we regard this as very substantive and very significant especially in the light of the fact that the UN General Assembly recently passed a decision calling for text-based negotiations and presenting text on the basis of which the negotiations in the IGN format can take place. Immediately after that, the Prime Minister leaves for the airport and departs for San Jose.

In San Jose, his first interaction is a meeting with the Indian community which is coordinated by our Consulate General of San Francisco. Then there is an interaction with Tesla Motors. The Prime Minister will be visiting Tesla Motors to have a look at some of their path-breaking inventions, particularly in the renewable energy sector.

At 5 o’ clock, there is a call on by Mr. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. And after 6:30 onwards, there is a call on by a lot of important people from the tech sector.There is Satya Nadella of Microsfot, Sundar Pichai of Google, Paul Jacobs of Qualcomm, John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco, Shantanu Narayen, the President and the CEO of Adobe, and Venk Shukla, the President of the Indus Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. That evening concludes with the Digital India and Digital Technology dinner which, as you know, is very very important for our flagship Digital India programme.

Sunday, the 25th September the Prime Minister visits Facebook in Hacker Square. Again this is a very important interaction because of what social media can do. India, as you know, is among the youngest countries in the world and our youth are engaging in social media in a big way, and the meeting with Mr. Mark Zuckerberg will provide an opportunity to see how we can take this forward.

Then Prime Minister visits Google. There also he will have a look at some of the inventions that Google is making in the field of healthcare, in the area of smart grid, and of course how Google can use its technological innovations to help power our Skill India and Digital India programmes.

Thereafter, there is a meeting with His Excellency Dr. Ernest Moniz, the US Secretary of Energy. And then there is a round table on renewable energy. This is being coordinated by the US Department of Commerce and Stanford University. Again it is a very important meeting because it will allow us to brainstorm on the possible options available to India in the area of renewable energy.

At 3 o’clock, there is the India-US Startup Connect 2015. Again this is a very important event. It is being coordinated by NASSCOM. Some of the leading startups from India will be present there. The idea is, how do we kick start the Indian startup ecosystem and how do we connect the Indian ecosystem with the Silicon Valley ecosystem.

At 4:15 there is a call on by Mr. Edmund G. Brown, the Governor of California.At 4:45 there is a call on by Mr. Salman Khan, the Founder and CEO of the Khan Academy. This, as you know, is one of the largest academies for online courses, it is totally free programmes, and it has huge relevance to India as we also scale up our Open University system.

Then the Prime Minister goes to the SAP Centre and there the big ticket event obviously is the address to the Indian community. We expect about 20,000 people there. This is the first time our Prime Minister is visiting California after 30 years. So, I think it will be an important occasion for the Indian community in that part of the world to listen to the Prime Minister and his vision for India. The same evening the Prime Minister departs for New York.

He comes back to New York and then the next day there are two or three very important engagements. There is a meeting with President Hollande of France. Then there is a meeting with the Emir of the State of Qatar. There is a call on by the President of the World Bank. And then of course there is a meeting with His Excellency Mr. Barack Obama, the President of the United States, which is currently scheduled for 11 o’clock on 28th. There is a lunch then hosted by the UN Secretary General. And then there is a leaders’ summit on peacekeeping.

PR will give you more details of this very important event.India, as you know, has been historically the largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations and this summit which is being called by President Obama will be an occasion for the peacekeeping universe to debate on what is the best way forward for international peace and security.

There is a meeting then with President Enrique Pena Nieto, the President of Mexico. And there is a meeting with His Excellency Mr. Mehmood Abbas, the President of Palestine. Immediately after that the Prime Minister will depart for India.

This gives you a very broad-brush picture of Prime Minister’s overall programme. As you have seen, it is a very packed programme. He is having a series of very very important interactions. Now we are open to questions on the specific elements of the Prime Minister’s visit.

Question: Can you speak a little bit more about the G4 meeting?

Official Spokesperson: Correct. I will get our PR to respond to that.

Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations (Shri Ashok Mukerji):The G4 Summit is currently scheduled for the morning of Saturday. It is the first time after a decade that the G4 countries are meeting at the summit level. The main focus of the summit is going to be to build on the recent decision of the General Assembly by consensus to move into a specific text on the table and begin negotiations on the text to arrive at an outcome on the reform of the UN Security Council. This is the main purpose of this meeting, and the leaders will decide during that meeting on the way forward. I am told that there will be opportunity for the media to cover the meeting and to also get an outcome out of the meeting. So, we will wait for that meeting to address those issues.

Question (Indrajit Saluja, Indian Panorama): For years we have been waiting for this occasion. Luckily now that we have the text to go forward on, can I ask you Mr. Swarup, when do you think India will be firmly placed on the Security Council?

Official Spokesperson: I will again refer it to our PR who is in the best position to answer that question.

PR to the UN: PR is always optimistic and with that optimism and self-confidence, I would assume that process on negotiations which begins in the early part of the 70th Session of the General Assembly should conclude as our Prime Minister has called for with a concrete outcome on the reform of the Security Council at the end of the 70th Session of the General Assembly which is on the 14th of September 2016.

Question (Smita Sharma, India Today): Twenty-eighth is when the Indian Prime Minister will also be at the UN Peacekeeping Summit. So paths will cross with the Pakistani Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif and both the gentlemen are also staying in the same hotel. Even though there is no scheduled meeting, what are the chances maybe of a handshake or a pull-aside or will there be a deliberate attempt at the paths not crossing?

Official Spokesperson: No, there will be no deliberate attempt. If a handshake or pull-aside happens, you will get to see it. As of now, there is no bilateral meeting on the schedule.

प्रश्‍न (जमाल) : यू.एन.एस.सी.को लेकर भारत की जो पहल है, जो जी-4 मीटिंग आप कर रहे हैं, पिछले 20 वर्षों से कई प्रयास किये गये, कई विदेश मंत्रियों ने प्रयास किये, आप लोगों ने प्रयास किया, उस प्रयास की सफलता कब तक होगी? कोई भी काम कर रहे हैं, पॉंच-छह दिन की यात्रा है प्रधानमंत्रीजी की, कई आउटकम आप लोगों ने बताये, विकास जी ने बताये। इस आउटकम में यह कब जाकर थमेगा? पिछले साल पुरी साहब भी थे, उन्‍होंने कई बातें बताईं कि बस हम 2012 तक कम्‍प्‍लीट कर लेंगे, हमको मिल जायेगा। ओबामा भारत आये, उन्‍होंने आशा जगाई, हम कर लेंगे। आप बैठै हैं, पूरा महकमा बैठा है। कब तक लगता है कि यह हो जायेगा, चूँकि बड़ा vague answer मिलता है सबसे। मैं आपको responsible नहीं बता रहा हूँ। मेरी कई विदेश मंत्रियों से बात हुई 20 वर्षों में, सबने आशा जगाई, भारत के हजारों-करोड़ों रुपये खर्च हुए। रिज़ल्‍ट क्‍या है अपने पास और कब तक सम्‍भावना है,यदि इन सम्‍भावनाओं की बात करें, दो महीने, छह महीने, छह साल, दस साल, कितने, कब तक, कैसे, क्‍यों ?

संयुक्‍त राष्‍ट्र में भारत के स्‍थायी प्रतिनिधि : आपका जो सवाल है वह प्रॉसेस के बारे में है, कि कब तक यह प्रॉसेस खत्‍म होगा। उसका जवाब मैं देना चाहता हूँ कि यह प्रॉसेस जो शुरू हुई है, पिछले 20 सालों से कभी टेक्‍स्‍ट टेबल पर नहीं था, जो उसका जो जवाब था वह अन्‍दाजों में ही जवाब आता था। अब इस साल जो नई चीज़ है, वह टेक्‍स्‍ट 31 जुलाई इस साल का है, जो आप लोगों ने देखा होगा, वह टेक्‍स्‍ट टेबल पर होगा। हर साल जनरल असेम्‍बली में एक फिक्‍स्‍ड डेट पर यह निगोसिएशन आरम्‍भ होता है। इस साल यह निगोसिएशन नवम्‍बर के फर्स्‍ट हॉफ में आरम्‍भ होगा। तो अब उसके बाद किस रफ्तार से यह बात आगे बढ़ेगी, वह सदस्‍य देशों पर निर्भर करेगा। लेकिन मैं आपको एक उदाहरण से इसका जवाब दे सकता हूँ। जब वर्ल्‍ड लीडर्स ने 2012 में रियो+20 में मैन्‍डेट दिये गये थे कि Sustainable Development Goals तैयार करना चाहिये तो इस शहर में फरवरी, 2013 महीने में सभी 193 देशों ने बैठ कर इस पर वार्तालाप शुरू किया, फिर उसके बाद एक टेक्‍स्‍ट पेश हुआ और फिर पिछले साल 2014 में, यानी एक साल के अन्‍दर 17 Sustainable Development Goals तय हुए हैं और जनरल असेम्‍बली ने इसको एडॉप्‍ट किया। अगर हम यह उदाहरण लेकर आगे चलें तो नवम्‍बर महीने में जब यह टेक्‍स्‍ट पेश होगा, तो उस पर चर्चा होगी और हमारा जो प्रयास है कि जैसे Sustainable Development Goals में हुआ था,वही प्रयास जारी रहेगा कि यह 70वें सेशन में, जो 14 सितम्‍बर, 2016 में खत्‍म होगा, तब तक यह जनरल असेम्‍बली में एडॉप्‍शन के लिए टेबल पर हो।

प्रश्‍न : (...अश्रव्‍य...)

आधिकारिक प्रवक्‍ता : जैसा कि मैनेंआपको बताया, मीडिया कम्‍युनिकेशन्‍स और टेक्‍नॉलॉजी पर एक पूरी राउण्‍ड टेबल है और हमारी कई दिग्‍गज कम्‍पनियॉं जो मीडिया और टेक्‍नॉलॉजी क्षेत्र में हैं, इसमें रहेंगी।

प्रश्‍न : (...अश्रव्‍य...)

आधिकारिक प्रवक्‍ता : मीडिया इन्‍टरएक्‍शन तो मैं कर रहा हूँ आपसे। प्रधानमंत्री जी मीडिया इन्‍टरएक्‍शन नहीं करेंगे। मैं प्रधानमंत्री जी की तरफ से ही मीडिया इन्‍टरएक्‍शन कर रहा हूँ और उनकी तरफ से ही बोल रहा हूँ। Question (Rohit Vyas, TV Asia): Welcome to the United States.I am just curious about the Murdoch-hosted round table. Who will be the people taking part in that round table and what are the specifics about the topics in that?

Official Spokesperson: I will get our Ambassador to the US to respond to that.

Indian Ambassador to the USA (Shri Arun Singh): It is a round table with a large number of representatives from media and communications industry. There will be about 15 of them present there, representing different segments. The whole aim is to discuss what are the trends in technology, trends in societal uses related to media, what does it mean for developing countries, how do we use it for maximizing benefits to our society. So, that is the broad trend of the discussion, looking at technology development and the future.

Official Spokesperson: Remember the last part of that, the growth story for India. That is the tagline of that particular round event.

Question (Natasha Israni, Times Now): I have two questions. Could you talk a little bit more about the upcoming meeting of President Obama with the Prime Minister? There was a very comprehensive, strategic and commercial dialogue which just ended. Apart from that, what else will be the topics of discussion? How long has it been slated for?Secondly, the Prime Minister will not be attending the UN General Debate and External Affairs Minister is slated to speak at that forum. Can you just talk about why the Prime Minister is not doing that? Is it just a question of timing or is it also a reflection of his overall agenda, is it economic this time than multilateral?

Ambassador to the USA: Let me talk just about the US part. First, of course, as is normal in the meeting between the Prime Minister and the President, they will discuss the whole range of bilateral, regional and global issues, and economic engagement would certainly be a part of what they would discuss.As you mentioned, we have just completed the strategic and commercial dialogue between India and the US. It was important because this is the first time that we have had the strategic and commercial dialogue. So far, the earlier ones have been the strategic dialogues.

The idea is that while we have expanded in a significant way our political security and defence cooperation, we need to make enhanced effort in terms of expanding the economic engagement between the two countries.When President Obama had visited in January, the two leaders had declared a goal of taking our trade relationship to a level of USD 500 billon from the present level of USD 120 billion.So, it would be important to see what kind of new opportunities we can create in the economic sector and that is why an important part of Prime Minister’s engagement during his visit to the United States is certainly focusing on the economic sector.

As Vikas mentioned, early tomorrow morning there is a discussion focusing on the financial sector in terms of investment opportunities in India. In the evening the focus is on manufacturing and infrastructure. So, the CEOs who will be present in the evening engagement tomorrow are from those sectors and there would be about 40 CEOs represented there.

Then when the Prime Minister goes to California, one of the important engagements is at Tesla.What interests us in Tesla is the battery technology because it has implications in terms of storage for renewable energy. So, that would be an area of interest. Then in the evening there is a whole focus on the digital economy and digital technology.

It is not just that India is represented but there is tremendous interest in people there, in companies there in partnering with India. For example, at the digital technology events, among the prominent speakers at that event, before the Prime Minister lays out his vision, would be the CEOs that Vikas mentioned, John Chambers of Cisco, Paul Jacobs of Qualcomm, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Sundar Pichai of Google, Shantanu Narayen of Adobe, and Venk Shukla would be there on behalf of the Indus Entrepreneurs which is a group representing the tech entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley area. That is also significant because visiting California a number of times in the past months, I got a clear sense that the role and participation of Indian origin tech entrepreneurs in that area is extremely significant in terms of mainstream cutting edge technology and effort going on there. Today, more than 15 per cent startups in Silicon Valley are attributed to Indian origin tech entrepreneurs. Therefore, this is an additional dimension to the potential for cooperation between India and the United States.

Then in terms of renewable energy, clearly that is an area of deep interest to us as we want to grow at eight to ten per cent and we would like to extend it which is possible on the basis of renewable energy. The interaction that the Prime Minister would have, there would be thought leaders, there would be people from industry, from startups, from venture capital, looking at how do we deal with renewable energy and use it to meet India’s needs and requirements.

Another very important event that Vikas referred to would be on startups because one of the very important things that have an impact in Silicon Valley and Bay area is entrepreneurship, innovation and startups. Today there is a lot of strength in India in the startup and innovation space. At that event, there would be a certain number of startups from India coming, successful startups, to partner with Silicon Valley companies, to discuss with them their experiences, and to see how we can build an ecosystem of innovation partnership between India and the Silicon Valley which would be a win-win for both.

So, clearly there is a certain very important focus on the economic, but following from the strategic and commercial dialogue that we have in the discussions that the Prime Minister and President will have. There will certainly be a lot of discussion also on the political, bilateral, regional and global issues.

Question: …(Inaudible)…

Ambassador to the US: When two leaders meet you cannot constrain how long they will be for.

Official Spokesperson: On the UN part I think I will get PR to respond.

PR to the UN: With regard to your question on the presence of the Prime Minister for the special session of the United Nations and the Foreign Minister for high level debate, if you go back and see, every time there has been a major special session and a high level debate, then the choice has been whether to do both or whether to focus on one and let another leader do the second. It happened in the Millennium Summit when the MDGs were done and now that we are doing 15 years later the Summit on Sustainable Development Goals and adopting Agenda 2030, it is important for us to focus on the fact that the biggest canvas for implementing Agenda 2030 is India. With the initiatives that have been taken by the Government of India in the past year focusing on development and on specific sectors of development especially energy, sanitation, water, empowerment of women, all of these are part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

So, for the Prime Minister to participate on the first day in the first session of the Summit is a very very big signal of how important the Summit is for India as well as how important India is for the implementation of Agenda 2030. Just as an example, Germany and Japan are doing the same thing; their Prime Ministers are addressing the Summit and their Foreign Ministers are addressing the high level debate.

Question (Matthew Lee, Inner City Press): I wanted to ask, in the run-up to the Peacekeeping Summit most of the coverage has been about how European countries will be offering more troops. You are already a big troop contributor. What is India looking for from this Summit in terms of reforms? There have been these sexual abuse allegations, not against Indian troops, but others; comments by the Under Secretary General. What would you like to see happen? And do you feel that the UN system gives enough top posts to Indian candidates? What more beyond the Security Council would India like to seek from the UN?

PR to the UN: Because it is an event which is hosted by the United States that I was looking at Ambassador Arun Singh. Nevertheless, Matthew, the answer to what you are asking is that India has been the single largest troop contributor to the peacekeeping operations of the United Nations. This year we would pass 1,85,000 cumulatively rotated through the UN system over 44 missions out of the 69 mandated so far. What is going to be our focus in the Summit? Of course, the commitments that India will make at the Summit will be announced in the Summit itself, so I would not like to pre-empt that. But in a very broad sense to answer what you are asking, I think the time has come for India to also expect the UN peacekeeping system to take on board its concerns which have been expressed especially in the last four years on the way UN peacekeeping is conducted.

Our Prime Minister last year and this year has been talking about activating the requirement for the Security Council to consult countries which provide troops for peacekeeping operations, and we have invoked Article 44 of the UN Charter for this. So, this is something that we expect will be taken on board by this meeting.

We have an interest in also building upon our own capabilities. And one of the areas where that will happen and that we expect the Summit will take note of is the availability of skilled Indian personnel, not only ordinary soldiers but also skilled and educated soldiers. We made a big beginning in the medical field, for example, where you have seen the role that Indian medical troops have played in UN peacekeeping. And we believe that this is something that we would like to expand upon.

A third area is the protection of civilians. I think among most of the troop contributing countries in the United Nations, India is one country which has perhaps the deepest and the largest experience of what it actually means to be asked to be mandated to protect civilians during a peacekeeping operation. And we would like this Summit to take on board our experience and build on it so that we make it effective on the ground.

Question (Barkha Dutt, NDTV):Usually the G4 is represented by Foreign Ministers. As you said, this is the first in ten years that you are actually seeing the Heads of States sort of galvanizing together for a meeting. What is the statement that it is trying to make? Why Prime Ministers and Presidents instead of the Foreign Ministers as is typical? And is there a sense of disappointment that the United States has not been more forthcoming? In fact, it has been positively ambivalent in response to India’s bid for a permanent seat at the UNSC.

PR to the UN: The fact that the G4 is meeting at the Summit level is very unusual and I think that you have rightly emphasized that there is a significance in the very fact that the G4 is meeting at the highest level. It has a message. The message is to build on what was agreed to on the 14th of September by the General Assembly. This Summit has come together as an event only after the 14th of September decision of the General Assembly, and that conveys its own message on how the G4 believes that it can play a role in galvanizing broad-based support for the outcome of their negotiations which will start in November this year. That is as far as I can tell you on the G4 Summit.

Ambassador to the USA: Let me add that on the bilateral side it is clear that there has been no going back by the US from the commitment that they made when President Obama had visited and articulated support for India’s permanent membership of UN Security Council.The joint statement that was issued at the end of the strategic and commercial dialogue has again reiterated in the same manner support for India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

Question: …(Inaudible)…

Ambassador to the USA: I said in the bilateral context we have seen no going back. Now, I cannot comment on what are multilateral processes.

Official Spokesperson: There are various templates for UN Security Council reform but the end product is India as a permanent member of the Security Council, and there US support for India has been unwavering.

Question: Can you provide a little bit more details on the G4 Summit and also who will be attending that? Will there be other leaders? Could you describe the format a bit in detail?

PR to the UN: The G4 Summit takes place in New York in this building on Saturday morning at 8 o’clock. The participation is at the Head of Government and Head of State level. So, for India it is the Prime Minister, for Japan it is the Prime Minister, for Germany it is the Chancellor and for Brazil it is the President. There are four of them.

Official Spokesperson: Yes, it is a G4 Summit, so it is restricted to the G4 countries.

Question (Kumar Sanjiv, PTC News): There are many meetings with Indian community people and I think Sikh community people are also participating in the meetings. In the last visits, Prime Minister had a talk with Sikhs about the blacklist issue. Is that on his agenda now? Can anything be declared on that?

Ambassador to the USA: Can you elaborate on what you mean by blacklist issue?

Question: Sikh community blacklist issue.

Ambassador to the USA: I think there have been issues related to how you deal with passport and visas for those who have taken asylum. That is an ongoing process and Government has taken a number of steps related to those who are derivative asylees. That process is constantly under examination as to how do you protect India’s security interests and at the same time respond to humanitarian concerns and needs. That is an ongoing process.

Question (Shiv Kumar Roy, Sangbad Newspaper): We all Indians are anxiously waiting for permanent membership of Security Council to India. You know that China has got a very vital role in this and PM visited China. What was the outcome of that?

Official Spokesperson: China has also clearly said that it supports India’s aspirations to play a greater role in the United Nations including in the Security Council. That is where we are.

Question (Lalit Jha, PTI):Just a quick clarification. Where is the meeting with Obama happening? This hotel or New York Palace?

Ambassador to the USA: We will let you know the venue later.

Question (Rhonda Helban, Blog Columnist): My question is about the Digital India. I am intrigued by the role and emphasis on Digital India. But I am also perplexed a bit that it is all commercially oriented. The netizens and the people online, what role will they have in developing the Digital India? Is it only the commercial that will be looked to for the answers? Will these issues be raised during the Prime Minister’s talk as part of his presentation to the UN?

Official Spokesperson: I do not know on what basis you are saying that netizens are excluded. The netizens are very much part of the Digital India. What is Digital India? Digital India is a pogramme for (1) connectivity, (2) using modern technological platforms to improve governance and make service delivery faster. That is the overall vision of the Digital India programme. For that Digital India programme to be implemented, it is important that netizens have to be connected. The whole idea is to have a connected India where governance can be speeded up and where service delivery can be made faster so that everybody benefits. The whole idea is, we are using the top technological talent in silicon valley to help us put into effect those platforms, those technologies that are needed for this purpose. Then eventually it has to be broad based; every citizen of India should be able to use those services. The idea is, we are expanding Digital India to all the villages. All the villages will have broadband connectivity. The idea is, at the grassroots level people should be able to be empowered to use those technologies so that everything moves seamlessly and things become faster and easier.

Ambassador to the USA: In this context let me add that when the Prime Minister will be visiting Google for example, there will be a Hackathon going on there with about 150 to 200 Indian American tech entrepreneurs there working for 24 hours continuously in partnership with about a 100 and 150 Indian software programmers working at the same time in India together to develop some app or software related to Digital India and Skill India which can then be released for use by the people. So, clearly the emphasis on the people and wider inclusion and societal benefit is very much there.

Question: I want to applaud all three of you for a wonderful sharing of information with the kind of energy that is befitting for India. I feel very proud that we are in this era where there is so much positive, so much excitement. I am not lecturing, coming to the question right away. This may or may not directly be related to Prime Minister’s visit at the moment, but what concerns me is the rise of ISIS. I felt America did not take a proactive approach which would have prevented it from escalating to this extent. Earlier I heard Prime Minister saying that Muslims love India more, etc., which was fine. I understand that spirit. But in order to prevent some threat happening for India from ISIS, are we aware, are we concerned, is there some strategy in place? Recently we have seen many Indian Muslims coming back from the Middle East etc., those were found to be affiliated with ISIS.

Official Spokesperson: Obviously ISIS is a huge …, the Prime Minister has said this on many occasions that terrorism knows no religion, terrorism is not confined to any one particular region, it is a global phenomena and it requires a global response; and that is what we are doing. If you saw the Joint Statement that came out as a result of the India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, there is a very strong emphasis there on combating terrorism. In fact, we even put out a separate statement on that.

We have now appointed a special coordinator for combating violent extremism and radicalization. Mr. Asif Ibrahim is the person who is doing that. This itself tells you how seriously we take the threat of ISIS, the threat of radicalization, and how we want more and more international cooperation to combat this. That is why our proposal for the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, the CCIT, which has been pending in the United Nations for more than a decade now, assumes greater significance.

With that I think we have run out of questions. We will continue the interaction as the Prime Minister’s visit progresses. Thank you all.

(Concluded)



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