NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday pitched for enhanced use of information technology to solve day-to-day problems faced by the society and urged budding innovators to come out with solutions.
Addressing over 10,000 participants in the Smart India hackathon, an HRD ministry initiative to promote innovation, especially among engineering students, he said technological solutions are at the heart of his initiatives like 'New India', smart cities and cashless transactions.
He also asked them to distinguish between knowledge and skill, and said their focus on "skill engagement optimisation" will play a key role in converting demographic dividend into development dividend to pave the way for a new India.
Modi also underlined his government's commitment to the initiative, saying over 29 ministries are involved in the exercise and solutions that come out of it will be taken to their logical conclusion.
India has played a lead role in knowledge since ancient times, he said, noting that 'zero' was invented here and it has travelled from "Upanishads to 'upgrah' (satellites)".
"But there is a need to use more information technology to solve problems facing the society. The society is getting more technology-driven," he said.
Following his speech via video conference he also interacted with several participants in several cities who shared their innovations and ideas with him.
While interacting with the students, Modi said the passion to realise the dream of "new India" should be akin to every Indian's dream for freedom in pre-independence India.
He said it is an illusion that government knows everything and has solutions to all problems as he asserted that people outside it also have lots of good ideas and they can together solve existing problems.
He noted that the hackathon participants have been tasked with the responsibility of finding solutions to over 500 problems and challenges for the society in day-to-day life, and told them that it is a challenge as well as opportunity for them.
"When you channelise your energy in the field of governance, many positive results will come out of it," he said.
Mentioning innovations like driver-less vehicles, he said of all things internet will be very important in the coming times and it is being used extensively in the smart city project.
Innovation is the foundation of future and history is written by those who challenge the existing order, he said.
Modi asked them to persevere and never give up on their ideas as he noted that many entrepreneurs were rejected before they went on to found billion dollar firms.
His government has launched start-up India and Mudra scheme to help innovators, he said.
The session had few light-hearted moments as well. At one point, interacting with a student named Adinath, Modi said, "Ek Adityanath hai, aur ek Adinath". A smiling Modi also asked the student whether he was interested in joining politics.
The PM sought solutions to tackle cyber crime from the participants.
Ideas proposed by the students included distribution of low-cost sanitary napkins in rural areas and engaging them in projects to develop rural infrastucture.