Digital India, Analog setup

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at the launch of Digital India Week in New Delhi. Photo : R. V. Moorthy  

Given the attendance at the launch of ‘Digital India Week’, it seems apt that the government chose to host the event at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium. Over 10,000 people attended the gala event on July 1, including who’s who of the corporate as well political circles, which is not surprising given the fact that Digital India is one of the pet projects of PM Narendra Modi. A large number of students were also part of the event.

Managing the crowd, however, was a totally different game altogether. Entry into the event became a Herculean task with people from media as well as industry being pushed from one gate to another. A top executive of a telecom company went back after an hour’s struggle to get in.

A lot of people were not allowed to carry Tablets PCs, remote controlled key cars, handbags and even paper notebooks inside the premises of the indoor stadium due to security arrangements for PM. Almost at all gates, people could be seen scuffling with police personnel and the event management team.

Nonetheless, post these initial hurdles, the event commenced smoothly. The atmosphere inside the stadium was that of celebration with huge LEDs all around, great sound system and a cheering crowd. The stadium was filled applause (and even whistles) as one industrialist after another announced support to Digital India, committing to invest 4.5 lakh crore. Majority of the investment was announced by companies who operate in the capital intensive telecom sector.

More than half of the total investment was committed RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani who did not put a timeline to by when can this investment be expected. RIL's telecom arm Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd is set to launch telephony and broadband services by December. Yonger brother Anil Ambani, who heads Reliance Group, announced Rs 10,000 crore investment over the next few years. Another chunk of investments were announced by Aditya Birla Group ($ 9 billion) and Bharti Enterprises ($ 16 billion).

Interestingly, while the Digital India aims to connect citizens across the country through broadband, internet connectivity was extremely poor at the venue.

Besides Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, senior BJP Leader L. K. Advani was present at the event. He was seated in the very first row along with other VVIP guests. Communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was earlier seen welcoming and greeting the BJP veteran on the latter’s arrival, was the only one to mention him in his address. Mr Advani is also a member of the Parliament Standing Committee on Information Technology.

As the head of the IT and Telecom ministry, Mr Prasad had personally monitored most of the arrangements at the event venue. He had been a regular visitor at the stadium for the past few days, in fact, the night before the event he was at the venue till 1:30 am.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 1:48:51 AM |

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