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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday urged democracies to come together to formulate global rules for emerging technologies, including social media and cryptocurrencies, so that they strengthen democracy and not harm it.

In his speech on the second day of the US President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy — a virtual, two-day event kicked off Thursday with about 110 participating countries— Modi said that years of colonial rule could not stamp out the inherent democratic spirit of India. India’s democracy story was one of its “unprecedented socio-economic inclusion in all spheres," that of “constant improvements in health, education, and human well-being at an unimaginable scale," the prime minister said.

“The India story has one clear message to the world. That democracy can deliver, that democracy has delivered and that democracy will continue to deliver," Modi said.

The comments come against the backdrop of seeming international thinking that India’s democracy has suffered with “crackdowns" on civil liberties since Modi came to power in 2014. The Economist ranked India 53rd in 2020 in its list of democracies, two places below its ranking in 2019.

In his speech, Modi pointed out that “different parts of the world have followed different paths of democratic development. There is much we can learn from each other."

“We all need to constantly improve our democratic practices and systems. And, we all need to continuously enhance inclusion, transparency, human dignity, responsive grievance redressal and decentralization of power," he said.

“The basic strength of democracy is the spirit and ethos that lie within our citizens and our societies. Democracy is not only of the people, by the people, for the people but also with the people, within the people," he said.

“India would be happy to share its expertise in holding free and fair elections and in enhancing transparency in all areas of governance through innovative digital solutions," Modi said.

As democracies, “we must also jointly shape global norms for emerging technologies like social media and cryptocurrencies, so that they are used to empower democracy, not to undermine it," the prime minister said.

Indians are among the biggest investors in cryptocurrencies. In a speech last month, Modi warned bitcoin presented a risk to younger generations as the government prepared to introduce legislation to regulate digital currencies. According to reports, Modi is expected to take a final call soon on the regulatory framework governing the use of cryptocurrencies and related products.

Opening the summit on Thursday, US President Joe Biden expressed alarm at the “backward slide" of democracy around the globe, calling on leaders to work with him to bolster democratic institutions.

The summit, one of the earliest initiatives announced by Biden after taking office in January, aims to showcase US’ global leadership against the backdrop of the Trump years when the US was seen as inward-looking. “We stand at an inflection point ...Will we allow the backward slide of rights and democracy to continue unchecked? Or will we together have a vision...and courage to once more lead the march of human progress and human freedom forward?" Biden said.

In his remarks Thursday at the closed-door second leaders’ plenary session, Modi “stressed that principles of democracy should also guide global democratic governance," a person familiar with the matter said.

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