Data is a nation’s asset and it should be utilised properly for achieving prosperity, especially in sectors like healthcare, agriculture and education, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Saturday. He also said that keeping this in mind, the government has brought a data protection law which is being examined by the select committee of Parliament.
Observing that data must be secured, Prasad said the government had in the first week of December last year approved the Personal Data Protection Bill that will spell out a framework for handling of personal data, including its processing by public and private entities.
Prasad, who holds the Law and Justice, Electronics and Information Technology and Communications portfolios, was delivering the Late Thakur Prasad Centenary Memorial Lecture on “Data Privacy, Data Security and Data Sovereignty”.
The programme was organised by an organisation called Aatma Bodh. Late Thakur Prasad, a veteran Jan Sangh leader who served as a minister in Bihar in 1977, is the father of the minister. “Data is a nation’s asset. This great asset of data has to be properly used, processed and value added for healthcare, agriculture and education. Therefore, not only data ownership but also data sovereignty becomes important,” the Union minister said.
“If data is a good asset it must be secured and vested into the sovereign power of a country. Therefore, we have brought data protection law which is being examined by the select committee of the Parliament,” Prasad said.
He said that Digital India today has become a transformative programme whereby common Indians are getting empowered through technology.
The “great JAM trinity- Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile – has led to transformation in governance,” he said.
The central government has transferred close to Rs 11 lakh crore directly into the bank accounts of the poor under direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme and saved Rs 1.70 lakh crore which used to be pocketed by fake beneficiaries and middle men, Prasad said.
A digital ecosystem generates a lot of data and the vast size and population of India with 120 crore plus mobile phones and nearly 70 crore plus internet users have become a new tool in the hands of the common man, he said.
The Union minister said that Aadhaar itself undertakes three crore authentications every day.
Platforms like e-scholarship, e-hospitals, soil health card, GSTN, UPI, Ayushman Bharat are all game changing programmes which have improved governance and delivery, Prasad added. Prominent among those who spoke on the occasion included Patna High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, former Supreme Court Judge and Chairman of Press Council of India Justice C K Prasad, retired Chief Justice of J&K and Rajasthan High Court Justice S N Jha, former Jharkhand HC judge and judicial member of National Company Law Tribunal Ananth Vijay Singh.
They recalled Thakur Prasad as a prominent public figure and a well-known senior lawyer of the Patna High Court.
The speakers also highlighted the late leader’s commitment to hard work, integrity and commitment to ideology.