The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2021 represents one of the world’s largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT for development’ community, is co-organized by International Telecommunications Union (ITU), UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD. During the address to High-Level Policy session of WSIS 2021 where in Secretary General ITU, Ministers of Russia, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Zimbabwe, Iran and leaders and high level dignitaries from across the globe were present, Shri Dhotre underscored the role of Information and Communication Technologies(ICTs) for modernization and transformation of the industry, promotion of inclusive economic growth and stimulation of the national economies to meet the larger objectives of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Replying to the question on the challenges being faced for bridging the digital divide in India, the Minister highlighted policies and programs undertaken by his Ministry under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. He stated that the initiatives were taken not only to effectively manage the pandemic situation but also with the objective of bridging the digital divide in the country. Minister also mentioned innovative solutions such as Arogya Setu platform to monitor and alert health status of citizens, CovidSavdhan system for targeted messaging in a specified area, facilitation framework for Work from Home and Work from Anywhere, effective use of public Wi-Fi under PM-WANI scheme enabling effective service delivery for the citizens across the country.
Drawing attention to development of telecom infrastructure in remote areas, Shri. Dhotre mentioned that under the flagship program BharatNet, nearly 6,00,000 villages are being connected through laying of more than 4,00,000 Km length of optical fiber cable and use of satellite communication services. He further added that through submarine cable networks small and remote islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep and other inaccessible areas are being connected with funding from Government. Shri Dhotre expressed that establishment of ITU Area office and Innovation Centre in India with involvement of SMEs, Academia and Startups in the region will go a long way in development of technologies, standards and solutions best suited for rural and remote areas of developing nations. This will bolster efforts towards bridging the digital divides in many developing regions of the world and meeting SDGs.