Speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Startup Event
(27 September 2015, San Jose, California)
It is a great pleasure to be here. For me, this is a special event, because the idea of startups is close to my heart.
You are likely to wonder why, because governments and national capitals are supposed to stop or slow things down, not start them up.
I know this was once the view of Washington from Silicon Valley; and, this is exactly how tech specialists in Bengaluru thought about New Delhi.
And, I know that many of you think that the only problems that have not been solved are the ones for which you have not written the apps yet.
When I shifted to Delhi last year, I thought of my government as a Startup. So, I also saw some of the bumps you face on the road.
I understand your challenges, but also the wonderful feeling of creating something new.
The course of human history and progress has been shaped by imagination, inspiration, invention and innovation.
I often say, if there’s a strong wind blowing, some might want to shut the window. Others will want to put up a windmill or launch their sails on the seas.
The difference between perception of something as a challenge or an opportunity is the difference between inertia and initiative; status quo and progress.
The idea of Start Ups is as ancient as this world. Each economic age has been defined by disruption of the previous one, by the evolution of ideas and products that displace the old ones.
Start Ups have always been the engine of progress. The mega corporations of today were Startsup of yesterday.
What is different now is that the digital age has created a fertile new environment for Startups.
This is a world in which you don’t grow by extracting resources, but by spreading an idea. More than the creator, it is the consumer, who discovers applications.
Today, the Startups defy the natural rates of growth. An idea can become a global name within a year. Customers can multiply at the rate of millions, employees at the rate of thousands and valuation at the rate of billions.
The convergence of technology, integration across diverse fields, distributed architecture and people willing to back an idea, have opened a new world for enterprise.
This ecosystem was born in the Silicon Valley. No community is shaping our world as much as the one on this Californian Coast.
It isn’t just big names, but small firms that are fashioning every day new ways to enrich human life with the joy of artists and creators.
That underlines America’s success and inspires the world.
So, I see Startups, technology and innovation as exciting and effective instruments for India’s transformation, and for creating jobs for our youth.
We are a nation of 800 million youth below the age of 35 years. They are eager for change; have the energy and drive to pursue it; and, the confidence to achieve it.
When each of the five hundred odd towns produces ten Startups and each of our six hundred thousand villages produce six small businesses, on a regular basis, we will create an enormous economic momentum and generate a huge number of jobs in our country.
India’s own ecosystem of startups is evolving rapidly. It is driven by the energy, enterprise and innovation of our youth.
We have a huge market with rapid growth and untapped opportunities in every sector. We now have the institutions, incentives and interest for new ventures. We have incubators, accelerators and investors willing to back an idea and assume risks.
India has woken up to the potential of Startup Ventures with great enthusiasm and energy. In the past few years, they have grown exponentially.
We have here an outstanding group of Startups from India. They are applying technology to transform healthcare, education, agriculture, clean energy, security, financial inclusion of the poor and access to clean water.
Our Startups represent not just commercial success stories, but are powerful examples of social innovation.
The pace at which people in India are taking to digital technology defies our stereotypes of age, education, language and income.
There are nearly a billion people with cell phones in India; smart phones and internet users are in hundred millions, growing at high double digits.
The scale of India’s development needs is huge. And, the need to achieve it is urgent.
We cannot simply continue on the traditional paths to development.
This is the vision and the spirit behind Digital India, which I spoke about last night: to use technology to transform governance, empower our citizens, eliminate barriers to opportunities, deepen social change, impart scale and speed to development, improve delivery of services, design affordable products for the poor, customize services for specific groups,and build a more sustainable future for our planet.
Startups will have an important role in achieving our vision.
From creating infrastructure to providing services, from manufacture of products to human resource development, from supporting governments to enabling citizens and promoting digital literacy, Digital India is a vast cyber world of opportunities for you.
I see Startups, not as short term investments, but as long term commitments.
Our application and enterprise is limited only by our imagination.
We have here today our Department of Space that provides free data on its portal. In the course of past few months, we have put together 170 applications of space technology in governance and development.
Many of these could become the vehicles of new ventures in India.
But, it is not just about the opportunities generated on the digital platform and advanced science by urban enterprises.
I want to see the idea and the spirit of Startups light up the economies and the fortunes of people in rural India. From handicrafts to tourism, the frontiers of possibilities and the scale of reach in India is immense.
I want this especially for our rural women, who have shown marvelous success in enterprise, whenever they have had opportunity. They transform not only our rural economy, but also our society.
Our development models speak of Public Sector and Private Sector. I speak of a third sector, Personal Sector, of individual enterprises, micro enterprises and micro finances.
That is why I focused on Startup India in the Independence Day Address this year.
We are launching schemes that will support our mission. And, I assure you that they won’t trap your creativity in long government procedures.
One is the Atal Innovation Mission, after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji to promote innovation.
Another is SETU, which means bridge in Hindi – Self Employment & Talent Utilisation (SETU). This will be an incubation and facilitation programme.
We are also setting up Electronics Development Fund to support design, development and launch of new products.
We are reforming our regulations and processes, and making it easier to start and do business in India.
We are making our digital infrastructure and services accessible and affordable that will also bring broadband to six hundred thousand villages, and free Wi Fi to schools, universities and public places.
We are also giving the highest importance to data privacy and security, intellectual property rights and cyber security.
So, Make in India, Skill India and Design India will create a surge of opportunities.
So, friends, as we thought of Startups, it was natural to choose Silicon Valley for our first overseas event.
For, India and the United States have a natural partnership of innovation and technology that has shaped the knowledge economy.
I am told thatIndians account for 15% of startups here. Hundreds of thousands of Indian professionals here and in India are contributing to the global success of U.S. enterprises. Many are leading them today.
Our universities, labs and firms are working together for next generation advanced bio fuels, solar energy and energy efficiency.
Young Stanford scholars are teaming up with Indian counterparts in Delhi to make affordable biomedical devices for rural India. MIT Tata Centre’s Khethworks is changing the lives of small farmers with solar-based irrigation systems.
We have here with us Manu Prakash, a young Indian scientist in Stanford, who has a lab to his name at the university.
This is the power of our cooperation and collaboration. Sitting here, you can touch the life of a young child in a remote village.
I also hope that a young girl in a small town in India will look at the exhibitors today and dream of her own project. And, someone in Mumbai or the Bay Area will be the angel to her dreams.
This is the possibility of the digital bridge – to connect distant lives and change fortunes and future.
This is the potential of youth and innovation.
It can ignite a partnership between India and the United States, which can advance prosperity in our two countries and give new content to our strategic partnership.
It can enable us to lead in the digital century and find solutions to enduring human problems and emerging global challenges.
I am delighted to see so many new partnerships formed today.
I am honoured to launch the BHARAT Fund today – which stands not just for India, but also for Better Health, Agriculture, Renewable and Technologies.
I am delighted that Qualcomm announced a fund of USD 150 million for Startups in India. I want to than TiE for its valued suggestions for creating a more supportive environment for Startups.
I know you will succeed on the strength of your genius and enterprise. But, when you need a helping hand, or when you find hurdles in your way, we will be there for you.
Let me thank NASSCOM, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and TiE Silicon Valley for this very special event.
I am confident that you have inspired many young talents in India, launched thousand new dreams, and sown the seeds of many India-U.S. partnerships.