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PM’s Keynote Address at the Sydney Dialogue

My dear friend, Prime Minister Scott Morrison,

Friends,

Namaskar!

It is a great honour for the people of India that you have invited me to deliver the keynote at the inaugural Sydney Dialogue. I see this as a recognition of India’s central role in the Indo Pacific region and in the emerging digital world.It is also a tribute to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between our two countries, a force of good for the region and the world.I congratulate the Sydney Dialogue for its focus on emerging, critical and cyber technologies.

Friends,

We are in a time of change that happens once in an era.The digital age is changing everything around us. It has redefined politics, economy and society.It is raising new questions on sovereignty, governance, ethics, law, rights and security.It is reshaping international competition, power and leadership. It has ushered in a new era of opportunities for progress and prosperity.But, we also face new risks and new forms of conflicts across diverse threats from sea-bed to cyber to space. Technology has already becomea major instrument of global competition and key to shaping the future international order.Technology and data are becoming new weapons.The biggest strength of democracy is openness.At the same time, we should not allow a few vested interests to misuse this openness.

Friends,

As a democracy and a digital leader,India is ready to work with partners for our shared prosperity and security. India’s digital revolution is rooted in our democracy, our demography, and the scale of our economy.It is pwoered by enterprise and innovation of our youth.We are turning the challenges of the past into an opportunity to take a leap into the future.There are five important transitions taking place in India.One, we are building the world’s most extensive public information infrastructure. Over 1.3 billion Indians have a unique digital identity. We are on our way to connect six hundred thousand villages with broadband. We have built the world’s most efficient payment infrastructure, the UPI. Over 800 million Indians use internet; 750 million are on smart-phones. We are one of the largest consumer of data per capita and have one of the cheapest data in the world.Two, we are transforming the lives of the people by using digital technology for governance, inclusion, empowerment, connectivity,delivery of benefits and welfare.Everyone has heard of India’s financial inclusion, banking and digital payment revolution.Recently,we have used technology to deliver over 1.1 billion doses of vaccines, across India’s vast geography using ArogyaSetu and Cowin platforms.We are also building a National Digital Health Mission for affordable and universal healthcare for our billion plus people.Our One Nation, One Card will deliver benefits to the hundreds of millions of workers anywhere in the country.Three, India has the world’s third largest and fastest growing Startup Eco-system.New unicorns are coming up every few weeks.They are providing solutions to everything from health and education to national security.

Four, India’s industry and services sectors, even agriculture, are undergoing massive digital transformation. We are also using digital technology for clean energy transition, conversion of resources and protection of biodiversity.Five, there is a large effort to prepare India for the future.We are investing in developing indigenous capabilities in telecom technology such as 5G and 6G.India is one of the leading nations in artificial intelligence and machine learning, especially in human-centred and ethical use of artificial intelligence.We are developing strong capabilities in Cloud platforms and cloud computing.

This is key to resilience and digital sovereignty.We are building world class capabilities

in quantum computing. India’s Space programme is a vital part of our economy and security. It is now open to innovation and investment from the private sector.India is already a major centre for providing cyber security solutions and services to corporates around the world. We have set up a Task Force with our industry to make India a global hub for cyber security. We have the benefit of our skills and global trust.And now, we are focusing on hardware. We are preparing a package of incentives to become a key manufacturer of semi-conductors. Our production linked incentive schemes in electronics and telecom are already attracting local and global players to set up base in India.

Friends,

The greatest product of technology today is data.In India, we have created a robust framework of data protection, privacy and security.And, at the same time, we use data as a source of empowerment of people.India has unmatched experience in doing this in a democratic framework with strong guarantees of individual rights.

Friends,

How a nation uses technology isl inked to its values and vision.India’s democratic traditions are old; its modern institutions are strong. And, we have always believed in the world as one family.India’s IT talent helped to create the global digital economy. It helped cope with the Y2K problem. It has contributed to the evolution of technologies and services we use in our daily lives.Today, we offered our CoWin platform to the entire world free and made it open source software.India’s extensive experience with use of technology and policy for public good, inclusive development and social empowerment can be of great help to the developing world.We can work together to empower nations and their people, and prepare them for the opportunities of this century.That is also important for building a future of this world that reflects our democratic ideals and values. That is as important as our own national security and prosperity.

Friends,

It is, therefore, essential for democracies to work together:To invest together in research and development in future technology;To develop trusted manufacturing base and trusted supply chains;To deepen intelligence and operational cooperation on cyber security, protect critical information infrastructure;To prevent manipulation of public opinions;To develop technical and governance standards and norms consistent with our democratic values; and, To create standards and norms for data governance and for cross-border flow that protect and secure data.It should also recognise national rights and, at the same time, promote trade, investment and larger public good.Take crypto-currency or bitcoin for example. It is important that all democratic nations work together on this and ensure it does not end up in wrong hands, which can spoil our youth.

Friends,

We are at a historic moment of choice.Whether all the wonderful powers of technology of our age will be instruments ofcooperation or conflict, coercion or choice, domination or development, oppression or opportunity.India, Australia and our partners in the Indo Pacific region and beyond hear the call of our times.And, we are prepared to rise to fulfil our responsibilities.I am confident that the Sydney Dialogue will be a wonderful platform to help us shape our partnership for this age and fulfil our responsibility to the future of our nations and the world.

Thank you.