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Sen makes veiled attack on 'those who oppose use of tech'

Dharam Shourie in New York | July 21, 2008 20:55 IST

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In a veiled attack on people who are against the Indo-US nuclear deal, Indian ambassador to the United States Ronen Sen has said those who opposed the use of technology have proved wrong time and again.

Sen, who was addressing the golden jubilee celebration in New York of the Indian Institute of Technology-Mumbai, did not directly refer to the nuclear deal apparently because of ongoing trial of strength of the Manmohan Singh [Images] government in Parliament.

But Sen did say that all the challenges that India is facing cannot be met without a rapid increase in the power generation. Sen asserted that technology is a tool for empowerment and emancipation which has now been proved.

The progress that the country is witnessing today including in the Information Technology sector, Sen said, has come because of decisions taken long ago by visionary Indian political leaders, including Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi.

Even at that time there were people opposing increasing use of technology arguing that all the technology is not relevant to India and those advocating it do not know about rural India, he said.

Those who oppose use of technology have proved wrong time and again, he said, adding they miss the point that latest technology is ultimate tool to meet the most basic requirements of the people.

Sen landed in trouble last year for referring the critics of Indo-US deal as a headless chicken, but later apologized saying his remarks were directed at media-persons not at lawmakers.

Sen called for diversification of the country's energy portfolio to drastically reduce dependence on fossil fuels and rapidly increase nuclear power generation as also use of renewable sources of energy.

Stating that it is "absolutely unacceptable" that 60 years after independence, 40 per cent of the population should not have electricity, he said there is direct link between longevity and power consumption.

Increasing agricultural production, raising rural incomes and improving access to healthcare are among several areas which are directly linked to the availability of power, Sen said, adding none of the major challenges can be met if there is shortage of power.

But while increasing power production, he said, it was also essential to do it in a way that future generations on his 'fragile' planet are not put at risk. That would require decreasing dependence on fossil fuels and increasing use of other sources.

In 50 years, Sen said, India would be the most populous country in the world but it would not be able to realize 'demographic dividend' unless there increase in employment, quantum leap in agricultural production and increase in the rural incomes.

To meet the challenges, Sen said India has to close the immense gap between need and availability of healthcare, ensure access to potable water, rapid development of infrastructure and innovative ways to develop public-private partnership.

For that purpose, India need to develop its own models, Sen said, pointing out that while in the United States, all highways are publicly funded, India private sector is very much in the field because of scarcity of public funds.This model, he added, is working successfully.

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