'We are in touch independently with leading players, and they are denying it as well.'
'The Indian digital footprint is rising, creating new opportunities.'
"We have opened centres for electronics at IIT-Kanpur and Mumbai," IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tells Kiran Rathee.
"Seven NIT centres are running special courses only for electronics manufacturing. In view of the rising profile of India's digital economy, most IITs are going to come up with new courses," the minister says.
Ahead of the 2019 general election, how are you going to leverage the Digital India movement?
Digital India is already showing results on the ground.
In a population of 1.25 billion, we have 1.08 billion mobile phones, about 400 million smartphones, 500 million Internet connections and best of all, 1.14 billion Aadhaar enrolments, all safe and secure and backed by law.
The result of JAM (Jan-Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) is there for everyone to see.
We have opened 280 million bank accounts linked with Aadhaar, with subsidy going directly to the bank accounts of the poor.
The difference between the Narendra Modi government and the Rajiv Gandhi government is: He himself said out of Rs 100, only Rs 15 used to reach the people.
But the Modi government has ensured that the entire Rs 100 go into people's account.
The poor are getting empowered and that is the success of Digital India.
The government has announced several sops for electronic manufacturing. But what is happening is mostly assembling. Are you contemplating more measures to boost manufacturing?
You are wrong.
Seventy two mobile phone factories have come up in the last three years.
India is emerging as a big hub of electronics manufacturing, from mobile phones to medical electronics, to consumer electronics and automobile electronics.
Therefore, the whole ecosystem of electronic manufacturing has picked up.
And because of the Chinese situation and a lot of uncertainty, several companies want to come here.
So many lay-offs are happening in the IT sector.
New technologies are coming up, but there are not enough educational institutions to teach young people about these technologies.
You must first take into account the vast footprint of India's digital economy.
By 2022, it will be a $1 trillion digital economy.
Nasscom has said 2.5 to 3 million jobs are going to be added in the next five to seven years. I have to believe them.
Now come to jobs, specifically. Let me explain.
At present, Indian IT companies give jobs to 4 million people directly and 14 million indirectly.
34 per cent of them are women.
They have added 600,000 jobs in the last three years, and the media reporting massive lay-offs is wrong. I completely deny it.
We are in touch independently with leading players, and they are denying it as well.
The Indian digital footprint is rising, creating new opportunities.
We have opened centres for electronics at IIT-Kanpur and Mumbai.
Seven NIT centres are running special courses only for electronics manufacturing.
In view of the rising profile of India's digital economy, most IITs are going to come up with new courses.
With the passage of time and India's emerging digital economy, the great technological institutions in India will also tailor their courses further to meet emerging requirements.
There is an ongoing tussle between the government and the judiciary on the appointment of judges.
The Modi government accords the highest respect to the judiciary.
Yes, we have brought in steps to streamline judicial appointments.
Despite having 100 per cent approval of Parliament and more than 50 per cent of the state legislatures, the Supreme Court chose to strike it down.
Despite our reservations, we have accepted the judgment.
Last year, we appointed 126 high court judges, the highest ever in the last 30 years.
Besides this, we are giving a lot of infrastructural support; we are digitising the court process.
We have also set up a committee headed by Justice B N Srikrishna to give a focused report on how to make India a hub of international arbitration.
I am waiting for the report and the prime minister is also keen on this.
We have repealed more than 1,200 laws, others are in process.
Things are going digital and uncertainty is going out.
We have also promoted self-certification.
Therefore, we have done a lot of things and are open to doing more because access to justice is a window to good governance.
What are your policies regarding cyber security? Recently we saw the attack of the WannaCry ransomware.
How secure are Indian establishments in the wake of such attacks?
First of all, we are very conscious of the need to have a good cyber-security architecture.
The PM has himself said that cyber war is like a bloodless war.
So, let me tell what we have done.
About this WannaCry ransomware attack, in March itself we issued an advisory to install Microsoft patches because we were apprehending an attack.
India was the least affected by the WannaCry attack because of warning. About 200 isolated computers were attacked.
But we have to reinforce security.
A cyber coordination centre is going to come up by June.
We have a separate Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) for finance, energy distribution and generation, and we are open to having any further segmented CERT-INs for the system.
We are reinforcing Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification testing centres at six places in the country and we give constant advisories to banks and other bodies to reinforce their systems.
We have upgraded around 111 cyber auditors for this purpose.
We do regular cyber-security drills.
We have started a BOTNET (a network of computers that are infected with viruses and which are remotely controlled by cyber criminals, without the actual owner's knowledge.
Cyber criminals can use the compromised computers to send spam mails, etc) clearance centre where malware is cleared automatically.
We have done all this, but we need to speak publicly about cyber security more and more to reassure people, reminding them about the need for it.
There have been issues regarding the privacy of citizens, with instances of personal data being published online.
There have been issues regarding digital leakage of Aadhaar data also.
What are the safeguards?
First, I must tell you Aadhaar is totally secure.
There is a proper parliamentary Act in which Sections 29, 30, 31, 32 and 33 safeguard data completely with due regard to privacy as a precondition.
Aadhaar has minimal data: name, gender, date of birth, address.
If someone publishes the details, they can be punished.
Let me put like this. If I release my iris and fingerprint details for unauthorised use, I, as an IT minister, can also suffer consequences -- even with my own consent.
Section 29 is very specific. It can be disclosed only in case of national security and not automatically.
A committee headed by the Cabinet secretary, IT secretary and law secretary need to confirm the report of the joint secretary that for the following national security requirement the details are important and that, too, for a limited period of two months.