Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asserted that the country cannot afford to have a 'digital divide' and called for bridging this gap to ensure social equality.
Modi also urged the country's youth to take up innovation in a big way and said academics should focus on it instead of being exam-driven.
Warning against creation of any digital divide if all people were not digitally empowered, he said, "In this day and age, we cannot afford to have a digital divide. If some are empowered in technology and some not, then this digital divide can create a big problem for social harmony."
"We need to make sincere efforts to avoid the creation of digital divide in our country, where some become experts while some remain completely illiterate about the digital world.
"We have to work towards bridging this gap for ensuring social equality," said Modi in his address at the Indian Institute of Technology-Gandhinagar while inaugurating its new campus.
During the function, Modi also distributed certificates to those who had completed their course under the Pradhanmantri Grameen Digital Saksharata Abhiyan (PMGDISHA), aimed at spreading digital literacy among the rural population.
Noting that digital literacy is an important force for good governance and transparency, Modi said the government aimed at spreading digital literacy across rural India and has launched a programme under which one member of each of the 6 crore families living in villages would be made digitally empowered.
"Why is it that despite the country having expertise in IT, Google is born in another country? Why Facebook and YouTube are invented elsewhere?
"I throw a challenge to all youth of the country to take the path of innovation to change the future of India...Our academics should not be exam driven. The focus should be innovation," he told IITians, urging them to help innovate to make things simpler and resolve problems around them.
He exuded confidence that once the optical fibre network reaches each and every village, it will bring about a decisive change in the lives of rural population.
"Technology has become a driving force in itself. If user friendly technology is introduced then we can take the country on the path of digital literacy," he said.
In his address, Modi urged the IIT students to keep in mind the needs of the common man while doing innovations.
"IIT should create a culture of innovation which is need based, not knowledge based. If you do innovations keeping in mind the needs of citizens, companies would also show interest in it and buy that innovation from you."
The prime minister touted the big varsities that Gujarat had including the first of its kind Forensic university in the world, besides a children's varsity.
Talking about the vast 400-acre campus of the IIT Gandhinagar, Modi said it has become possible only because the poor have contributed by giving away their share.
Recalling how Mahatma Gandhi talked of Quit India and the British were forced to leave the country in five years, Modi said he wanted India to stand up in five years so that 'poverty should go and bring an end to casteism, corruption and nepotism from the country'.
The prime minister said government has introduced 'JAM' - Jan Dhan account, Aadhaar and mobile phone to ensuring that all become digitally literate.
He said a Digital India guarantees transparency, effective service delivery and good governance in the country.
He also took a dig at the philosophy of 'haves and have-nots' propagated by Karl Marx, and said this ideology has shrunk across the world.
Modi also recalled his past of being a tea seller. He told the IITians that he was also a "Tea-ian", a chaiwala as he sold tea during his childhood days.
IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing at the dedication ceremony of the newly constructed building of IIT Gandhinagar to the nation in Gujarat on Saturday. Photograph: Press Information Bureau of India via PTI Photo