University Youth Fest 2015 Debate Transcript

A very good afternoon to the august house. My name is Prerna Somani and I will speak against the motion – Digital India will raise the development in India to extreme heights.

What is this dream of Digital India that has been spun for us with so much glamour and glitter? Simply put, it means to electronically reduce the amount of paperwork by revolutionizing our economy from brick and mortar to click and choose. From government records and processes to books, libraries, education, cash, commerce, Digital India stands for the compression and expression of all spectrums of our life in the form of electronic bytes.

My question to you is – Is this feasible in India?

In the last 20 years, we’ve 40,000 farmer suicides which could’ve been easily avoided with better financial planning and support. Millions of students survive the joke of education in schools without roofs and toilets. 30% of our population is still illiterate. A huge segment of our working population is malnourished and anemic; a huger segment of our non-working population is homeless and diseased. The number of women, who die in childbirth just because of the gross inadequacy of our health infrastructure, is alarmingly high.
And here we are with a panacea for all our ills – “DIGITAL INDIA”

In Human development, there are stages of growth. Do you expect an infant to go for Javelin Throw?

Aspirations and wishful thinking, should be segregated from the realities of life. Please do not administer the opium of baseless hope to those who are jobless, to those who are hungry. The pertinent question for all of us – Do we need Digital India? Or do we need the basic amenities of life for each individual calling himself/herself an Indian?

Lead with good education – Digitalization will follow.
Begin with strong infrastructure – Digitalization will be the end result.
Obliterate the barriers of ignorance – the nation will march towards Digitalization.

I’m sorry to say, this topic of debate is tantamount to hitching the cart before the horse. From progress we shall digress to a complete mess if this premature idea of development is pushed to priority over the more pressing concerns our country faces today.

Are we ready for digitalization? When, mobile towers cannot support network density and we are victims of call drops. When our broadband is snail paced, do we dare to digitalize? ATMs collapse. Internet banking is in shambles. Smart classrooms are not encouraging smart classes. Friends, these digital libraries are a nascent ray of hope for us. We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves here, because our country cannot afford it. What use is a Digital India to our debt-ridden, food-deprived, unemployed majority?

Can we have a digital revolution without a robust infrastructural backbone? Satellites do not complete their full age and fall down as debris. Where are we going to store the massive amount of data generated by a society of 1.2 billion people? The “Cloud” technology? Till what extent will these underdeveloped clouds hold and protect our information? Soon, it will rain. And this sensational bubble of digitalization will burst sooner than later.

My concluding argument is about how we peek as the history of the so-called advanced nations who climbed the bandwagon of digitalization of economy and hurtled headlong into colossal fiscal calamities; while our not-so-digital economy withstood the tremors of economic crisis.

Friends, we must not get way laid by this currently fashionable trend called Digitalization. Our priorities as a country are different than the rest of the world and never can we progress if we stop paying attention to these priorities. Therefore, premature digitalization will only result in permanent perishing of the nation.

Thank you.
Jai Hind.

(Featured Image Courtesy: Tumblr)

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