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India’s Modi puts his country’s faith in technology for ‘inclusive growth’

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gives a speech at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday. (AP)
DUBAI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an eloquent advocacy of the power of technology to reduce poverty and bring about “inclusive growth for everyone” at the World Government Summit in Dubai.

Modi, who had previously addressed thousands of his compatriots at the Dubai Opera, told the summit that 21st century technology was essential for his country to face its big challenges: Poverty, unemployment, housing, education and natural disasters.

“Technology, from the Stone Age to the industrial revolution to the digital revolution, has fundamentally altered the condition of man for the better. It is a source of disruptive change, empowering men and women, minimizing government and maximizing governance,” he said.

But he warned that governments have a responsibility to see that technology is not used for negative ends.

“It is the job of governments to ensure that the power of technology is used for the good of the common man. Technology has got to be a constructive, positive force. Man sometimes fashions technology into destructive and violent areas, like when cyberspace is used for the spread of extremism.”

In a speech preceded by traditional Indian dancing and studded with references in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language, Modi said: “Sometimes it seems like man is making the cardinal mistake of using technology to come into conflict with nature. Man has to coexist with nature, as India has done with yoga.”

It was his second visit to the UAE since he became prime minister in 2014. He said the UAE was a “home from home” for 3.3 million Indian workers.

“The vision of Dubai is backed by technology, innovation and enterprise, but it is not confined to the laboratories. It is applied in the real world, in Masdar (Abu Dhabi’s sustainable city) and the Future Accelerator in Dubai.”

He added: “In establishing ministries of happiness and the future, the UAE has recognized the idea of maximizing human happiness.”

Modi highlighted India’s achievements in biometric profiling, linking identities to financial details and mobile phone numbers, which he said was leading to the creation of a “cashless society” in his country, and also the commitment to solar energy use and Internet-based “long distance” education.

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