USD 6 billion saved through direct benefit transfer: Prasad

Union Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasadtoday said India saved about USD 6 billion (Rs 36,000 crore) after implementing the direct benefit transfer system for various schemes.

Speaking at the 57th Public Meeting of Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) here, Prasad said the next billion users of Internet may come from India alone.

“We are using Aadhar as a verifiable digital identity. About 1.05 billion Indians today are on Aadhar. We have linked it to mobile phone, bank accounts, and all the poor people are getting subsidy directly. We have saved USD 6 billion which used to be pilfered by middlemen or fictitious persons,” he said.

ICANN is hosting its 57th meeting in Hyderabad from November 3-9.

“I do not have the slightest doubt that the next billion connections (of Internet) would be propelled from India. That’s how I see the whole movement of Internet.

“In a nation of 1.25 billion population, we have got 1.03 billion mobile phones. In the last two years we have added mobile phones in India equal to the population of Italy and France together. That’s the scale on which we work. We are linking 2,50,000 gram panchayats across the country though optical fiber network, which we say Bharatnet,” Prasad said.

He also said there are over 19,000 start-ups in India of which 5,000 were added last year alone. “We are going to make 600 million digital literates in the coming three years.”

He also opined that the language of Internet cannot be the English alone, and if Internet aspires to go global it must be linked with the local languages too.

He said India always supported multi-stakeholders model for Internet governance.

Later, talking to reporters, Prasad said the Government was in the process of redesigning the proposed IT Investment Regions (ITIR) projects in the country due to land issues.

He also said that cyber security was paramount for the safety of the people.