New Delhi: The next push for development will come from harnessing information technology, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

“IT has changed the way the world perceives us (India)," the Prime Minister said. “Times have changed. Now highways are as important as i-ways—information highways."

Modi was addressing a meeting of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), the industry lobby for the information technology (IT) companies in India.

He lauded the IT sector for its success in building an industry to $146 billion from around $100 million 25 years ago. “But there is still much to do. Technology has become a permanent part of our daily lives through the mobile phone," Modi said. “But then why wasn’t Google made in India."

However, concerns over cyber security could completely ruin all that has been built by the industry. “We have come to a point where people are afraid to use their mobile phones due to security concerns," Modi said. He encouraged the heads of various IT companies present at the event to focus on improving security to a point where people and even the government would be comfortable enough to move all their important documents to the cloud. The sector could look into building cloud godowns and lockers. Government offices would not have piles of files stacked everywhere as is the case now, Modi said.

Modi further stressed the need for technology in governance, giving the example of the way the government was able to cover 80% of the population in 30 days for the direct subsidy transfers for gas cylinders. “Even in the fight against corruption, technology has helped reduce it by around 10%—thousands of crores," Modi said. He also gave the example of the coal scam, where the Comptroller and Auditor General had found that it had caused a loss of 1.86 trillion. “Of the 204 coal blocks that were cancelled, using a completely transparent auction system, 19 blocks have been auctioned. and we have already received bids worth 1.1 trillion," he said.

Technology can also help in tourism. Tourists currently do not use books or call people for directions—they have the Internet to guide them everywhere. “The government cannot afford to build museums everywhere. But the IT industry can build virtual museums in 50 heritage cities for people looking to travel," Modi said.

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