Statement by Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India, H.E. Mr. Ajit Kumar - 19th session of United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD)Agenda Item 2 on 'Progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) at the regional and international levels'

Permanent Mission of India
Geneva

19th session of United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD)

Agenda Item 2 on ' Progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) at the regional and international levels’

Statement by Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India, H.E. Mr. Ajit Kumar

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, my delegation would like to congratulate you and other Bureau members. I assure you of Indian delegation’s full support and cooperation in the deliberations of this Commission.  I also want to thank all panelists for their comprehensive presentations.

We thank the UN Secretary-General for his report on the Agenda Item 2, dealing with review of the Progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) at the regional and international levels.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have played a game changing role in fostering economic, social and cultural development of many countries. In fact, ICTs have become critical distribution platform for providing public and private services to millions of people around the globe.

We echo the concerns of the UNSG regarding the exponential increase of digital divide between the countries, in particular the LDCs where only 6.5 % households have internet access compared to 81% in developed countries; and hence the urgent need to bridge the digital divide.

Market information, agricultural knowhow, financial services, education and health services, which were hitherto unavailable in the past, in remote inaccessible areas are now being accessed. By connecting people and places in real time, ICTs can play a vital role in regional, national and global development. 

E-Government, E-Learning, E-Health, E-Commerce, E-environment and the list goes on. It is difficult to envisage any aspect of human development today which cannot be E-enabled. With these numerous opportunities come even greater challenges such as inequality arising from digital divides, as well as threats to personal security, privacy, environmental costs and cyber-terrorism.

The Commission should hold intense discussion on these challenges. More pervasive and capable ICTs become,the greater impact they will have in realization of the 2030 Agenda.

Mr. Chair

India launched a flagship Digital India Programme to transform the country into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy by using ICTs. It is an Umbrella Programme that weaves together a large number of ideas and thoughts into a single, comprehensive vision. It was launched in July last year by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi.

The Digital India programme is centered on three core components - One, Digital Infrastructure as a Core Utility to Every Citizen; Two, Governance and Services on Demand, and Three, Digital Empowerment of India is working on a state of the art - digital infrastructure, with the focus on high-speed internet as a core utility to facilitate online delivery of various services.

Other initiatives under Digital India includesetting up of enabling infrastructure for digital identity, financial inclusion and easy availability of common services centres. It is also proposed to provide citizens with “digital lockers” which wouldbe sharable private spaces on a public cloud, and where documents issued by Government departments and agencies could be stored for easy online access. It is also planned to ensure that the cyberspace is made safe and secure.

The second key vision area is by providing seamless integrated services across departments of the Government of India with the availability of services in real time from online mobile platforms. All entitlements for the citizens of India will become portable and available on the cloud. These digitally transformed services would provide a boost to improving ease of doing business in India - making financial transactions electronic and cashless at the same time leveraging Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) for decision support systems’ development

The thirst pillar of digital India this Universal Digital literacy which includes providing universally accessible digital resources and also making these digital resources and services accessible in various Indian languages and creatingcollaborative digital platforms for participative governance. This will lead to a digital environment where citizens of India will no longer be required to submit physically documents and certificates.

Mr. Chair,

India has also adopted a Citizen Engagement Framework for e-Governance Projects and a Framework and Guidelines for Use of Social Media by Government departments and agencies for ensuring continued multi-stakeholder dialogue and engagement in e-Governance.

These developments in India are broadly in consonance with the outcomes envisaged by WSIS at national level. To promote open data, India has also adopted the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy with a mandate to provide data from government departments in the public domain.

We look forward to the development of a common platform under the aegis of United Nations, whichcan enable sharing of experiences and best practices across countries in the areas of various ICT applications referred to in UNSG’s report relating to financial inclusion, agriculture, health, governance and education for making the information available to the world.

Mr. Chair

My delegation welcomes the establishment of the Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation, and in this regard commends the efforts of the Chair for his transparent and inclusive process of identifying the members of this working Group.

We would like to assure you that India, like in the past, would work proactively with other members of the Working Group to conclude the methods of work, including modalities, for full and effective utilization of the expertise of all stakeholders.

Before concluding, my delegation would like to emphasize that a free and secure internet is a sine qua non fordelivering programmes for development. We therefore fully support creation of a democratic internet governance structure that will ensure a balance between public policy interests on one hand and private commercial intereststorealize the SDGs in a timely manner. The need for using the Commission’s expertise in identifying the synergies between WSIS, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda adopted in 2015, is far greater than ever before.

 I thank you Mr. Chairman.

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