‘Digital India’ gets a mega push as tech-giants back PM’s pitch

PM’s pet projects got a major shot in the arm with Microsoft and Google coming on board to help set up Wi-Fi at 500 railway stations and providing broadband connectivity to lakhs of villages. These developments will help connect products and services, creating better experience for citizens.

original (1)PM Modi’s whirlwind tour to the U.S. has helped address a gamut of issues and find concurrence on areas of mutual interest. High on rhetoric and agenda, apart from making a strong pitch for his pet-project ‘Make in India’, PM used his second visit to the U.S. to connect with tech-giants like Facebook and Google. He also held an hour-long discussion with the CEO of Tesla motors to explore possibilities of using solar power to fuel homes. Given India’s massive solar power push, it was an important interaction seeking bilateral initiatives and technology transfer.

These personalized interactions – which have become his unique style of engagement with corporate honchos – has led to a series of new commitments and bilateral initiatives giving boost to ‘Digital India’ initiative. Google has pledged setting up bases for equipping 500 railway stations with Wi-Fi facility. In an official blog post Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained his company’s plan for the ambitious project slated to be launched from Chennai in the coming months. “Working with Indian Railways, which operates one of the world’s largest railway networks, and RailTel, which provides Internet services as RailWire via its extensive fiber network along many of these railway lines, our Access and Energy team plans to bring the first stations online in the coming months. The network will expand quickly to cover 100 of the busiest stations in India before the end of 2016, with the remaining stations following in quick succession,” he said. “Even with just the first 100 stations online, this project will make Wi-Fi available for the more than 10 million people who pass through every day. This will rank it as the largest public Wi-Fi project in India, and among the largest in the world, by number of potential users,” he added.

PM, in his interaction with Silicon Valley CEO’s, projected India’s commitment of connecting services through digital platform and hoped to improve the quality of experience at railway stations. “We are expanding our public Wi-Fi hotspots. For example, we want to ensure that free Wi Fi is not only there in airport lounges, but also on our railway platforms. Teaming up with Google, we will cover 500 railway stations in a short time,” he commented at the dinner hosted in his honour.

While, in another major technological undertaking, Tech-giant Microsoft has decided to partner the government in setting up low-cost bandwidth connectivity roping an unprecedented 5, 00,000 villages in the network. Stressing on the importance of computers in increasing efficiency of businesses and governments, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told PM, “We believe that lost-cost broad band connectivity coupled with the scale of cloud computing intelligence that can be harnessed from data can help drive creativity, efficiency and productivity across governments and businesses of all sizes.”

These developments will have a massive bearing in connecting services and products by streamlining processes and clamping on delays. High speed Wi-Fi will help tourists and locals alike in having a better real-time awareness of transportation. It will help a number of small and medium businesses like online cabs and online food-delivery services – fuelling entrepreneurship, increasing competition thereby helping consumers get best quality experience at competitive pricing.

Tourism and footfalls, being a reflection of bilateral ties, should improve after much displayed bonhomie between the two government and industry. PM’s second visit has been, indeed, a success on both fronts – style and substance.

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