IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s Remarks at ICANN53

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The video of the statement can be found here: 

My take on what effect India’s endorsement of mutistakeholderism will have on Global Cyberpolitics can be found here: India’s New ‘Multistakeholder’ Line Could Be a Gamechanger in Global Cyberpolitics 

(Unedited transcript follows)

MR. STEVE CROCKER, CHAIRMAN ICANN, MR. FADI CHEHADE, CEO ICANN, EXCELLENCIES, AND MY FELLOW COLLEAGUES FROM VARIOUS GOVERNMENTS, THE ICANN COMMUNITY AND THE LARGER INTERNET MOUNT. HOLA, GOOD MORNING AND HARM GREETINGS FROM INDIA. MY SPECIAL GREETINGS TO ICANN ON THE OCCASION OF ICANN 53 IN THE BEAUTIFUL CITY OF BUENOS AIRES, WHICH TAKES PLACE AT AN IMPORTANT MOMENT IN TIME. BUT FOR THE PERENNIAL CHALLENGE OF BALANCING MY ROLE AS A MINISTER AND A POLITICAL LEADER, I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO HAVE BEEN THERE IN PERSON. IT IS MY LOSS AND I HOPE TO BE WITH ALL OF YOU ON ANOTHER OCCASION, DETAILS OF WHICH MY OFFICE IS EXPLORING WITH THE ORGANIZERS. 

HOWEVER, TECHNOLOGY ALLOWS ME TO REACH OUT AND SHARE SOME OF MY THOUGHTS AND THOSE OF OUR GOVERNMENT, LED BY OUR PRIME MINISTER, MR. NARENDRA MODI: THE DIGITAL SECTOR IS IN TRANSITION AND THIS IS EXEMPLIFIED THROUGH A NUMBER OF CHANGES THAT EACH OF US HAVE EXPERIENCED. THE NEW PLURAL AND DYNAMISM ALLOWED BY THE BREADTH AND DEPTH OF PENETRATION OF THIS MEDIUM IS ALLOWING MILLIONS TO PARTICIPATE IN POLICY AND POLITICS, ECONOMY AND SOCIETY, IN A MANNER INCONCEIVABLE IN THE PREVIOUS CENTURY. 

INDIA TODAY ADDS 6 BILLION NEW USERS EVERY MONTH TO ITS INTERNET USERS BASE OF OVER 300 MILLION PEOPLE. WE IN INDIA HAVE 1 BILLION PLUS PHONE CONNECTIONS OUT OF WHICH MOBILE IN ITSELF CONSUMES APPROXIMATELY 980 MILLION. INDIANS FROM THE HIMALAYAS TO THE METROPOLIS ACTIVELY ENJOY THE FAR REACHING USE OF THESE GADGETS. IT IS NOT AN ITEM OF LUXURY BUT AN ITEM OF NECESSITY. 

THIS ACCESS TO THE DIGITAL WORLD IS TRANSFORMING THE REAL WORLD FOR OUR PEOPLE. ENTREPRENEURS ARE BORN EVERY DAY, NOT JUST IN THE FAST-PACED CITIES OF MAXIMUM BANE AND (SAYING NAME) BUT ALSO IN MANY POCKETS OF INDIAN VILLAGES IN INDIAN HINDER LAND. GRANDMOTHERS ARE MAKING VIDEO CONVERSATIONS WITH THEIR GRANDCHILDREN. VILLAGERS ARE OPENING ONLINE BANK ACCOUNTS FOR THE TIME. STUDENTS ARE GETTING DEGREE THROUGH ONLINE EDUCATION, AND SOCIAL MEDIA IS SPILLING OVER WITH NEW VOICES AND OPINIONS. AND THE GOVERNMENTS ARE MORE ACCOUNTABLE AND MORE RESPONSIVE AS A RESULT. 

CLEARLY, THERE IS A DEEP IMPACT OF THE DIGITAL ON THE REAL AND THE TWO HAVE MERGED. THIS IS THE FIRST CHANGE WE SEE. PHONES ARE CONSIDERED AN EXTENSION OF OUR ARMS TODAY, AND THE SMARTER THEY GET, THE MORE EFFICIENT WE BECOME. BEING CONNECTED TO TODAY IS CONSIDERED A VIRTUE IN ITSELF SIMPLY FOR EMBRACING THE INEVITABLE. 

THE SECOND CHANGE IS BECOMING ALL TOO APPARENT. AS THE INTERNET TOWARDS ASIA AS ONE OF THE LARGEST CREATORS AND CONSUMERS OF CONTENT FOR THE REGION. THE USERS IN THESE EMERGING ECONOMIES, THE NEXT BILLION WHO WILL COME ON LINE STAND KMART FROM THEIR COUNTERPARTS IN DEVELOPED ECONOMIES. THEY’RE HUNGRY FOR KNOWLEDGE AND INNOVATION. TAILORING WHAT EXISTS TODAY TO SUIT THEM. AND THEY ARE INTRODUCING LANGUAGES AND VOICES AND BRINGING CULTURES TO THE GLOBAL INTERNET WHICH WERE PREVIOUSLY SITTING IN WAIT OFF LINE. 

THE THIRD CHANGE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IS THE FLUIDITY WHICH HAS COME ABOUT WITH NEW DEFINITIONS BECOMING A NECESSITY FOR TOTAL DIRECTION. WHILE ROLE OF THE STATE IN CYBERSPACE IS BEING DEFINED, THE BURDEN OF RESPONSIBILITY REMAINS AS SEVERE ON THE STATE, IF NOT MORE. 

NEW PARTNERSHIPS WITH NEW STAKEHOLDERS NEED TO BE CRAFTED SO THAT THE AGENCIES OF THE STATE CAN BE COMMENSURATE TO THE EXPECTATIONS FROM IT. THAT IS TO KEEP ALIVE ENDLESS OPPORTUNITIES, TO CREATE A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD, TO PROTECT CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND OUR FREEDOM AND LIBERTIES WHICH MOST OF US HOLD CLOSE TO OUR HEARTS. 

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THESE DEVELOPMENTS BRING TO THE FORE A SERIES OF QUESTIONS TO WHICH WE MUST RESPOND. WHAT MUST BE THE NEW CONTOURS OF GOVERNANCE THAT WILL HELP CATALYZE THIS CHANGE? HOW MUCH SHOULD GOVERNANCE BE REIMAGINED, RECREATED, AND REALIGNED TO ALLOW THE PARTICIPATION OF NEW VOICES, NEW DREAMS, AND NEW ASPIRATIONS? THE OLD MUST SKIED TO THE NEW, AND HOW THIS IS TO BE ACHIEVED? IN A COLLABORATIVE AND COOPERATIVE MANNER TO DELIVER ON THESE DIGITAL PROMISES OF TODAY AND TOMORROW. 

FOR US IN INDIA, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, AND UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF OUR PRIME MINISTER, THERE IS NO AMBIGUITY IN WHERE THE SOLUTION LIES. THE ONLY ANSWER TO RESPOND TO SUCH MOMENTOUS CHANGE IS DEMOCRACY. PLURALISM IS THE ONLY ECOSYSTEM THAT CAN MANAGE THE DYNAMISM THIS MEDIUM DEMONSTRATES. INDIA’S OWN TRANSFORMATION TO THE DIGITAL WORLD IS BEING MANAGED THROUGH INGRAINED IN, THROUGH THE BROAD AVENUES OF ITS CAPITAL AND LARGE METROS. 

THAT IS WHY THE DIGITAL INDIA INITIATIVE CAPTURES THE INDIA STORY. THIS STORY CANNOT BE TOLD THROUGH A NUMBER OF PHONES, LAPTOPS, INTERNET CONNECTIONS, AND WEB SITES ALONE. INDIA’S VISION OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IS NOT SIMPLY I.T. ENABLED SERVICES BUT I.T. ENABLED SOCIETIES. 

IT IS THE HUMAN BEING BEING SERVICED BY — A BILLION PEOPLE LIT UP BY THE LIGHT OF AN INFORMATION SOCIETY, POWERED BY THEIR OWN ABILITIES AND CREATIVITY. 

DIGITAL INDIA MEANS GIVING EACH INCONSISTENT VOICE WEIGHT IN EVERY DECISION WE MAKE AS A NATION. IT MEANS GIVING EVERY INDIAN A CHANCE TO REALIZE HIS OR HER DREAM, REGARDLESS OF — DISTANCE, AND IDENTITY. DIGITAL INDIAN, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IS DESIGNED TO BRIDGE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE BETWEEN THE DIGITAL HAVE AND DIGITAL HAVE NOTES. IT SEEKS TO EMPOWER EVERY INDIAN THROUGH DIGITAL TOOLS FOR GROWTH, EMPOWERMENT, AND BECOMING AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN GOOD GOVERNANCE. 

THE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIAN, MR. NARENDRA MODI, HAS SET UP A GOAL THAT GOVERNMENT MUST BE AVAILABLE IN THE PALM OF EVERY INDIAN AND AVAILABLE IN DETAIL ON HIS MOBILE PHONE. 

TO HELP IT ACHIEVE, WE ARE INVOLVED IN A GIGANTIC EXERCISE OF BROADBAND REVOLUTION IN INDIA, THROUGH — WHERE WE PROPOSE TO LINK 250,000 CLUSTERS OF VILLAGES TO FIBER AND STRENGTHEN OUR ACTIVITY. 

ALL THIS IS DESIGNED TO UPGRADE THE DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE, DIGITAL DELIVERY OF SERVICES, AND WIDENING THE CANVAS OF EEDUCATION, EHEALTH, ECOMMERCE, AND A HOST OF OTHER SERVICES. 

OUR GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO MAKE EVERY INDIAN AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN THIS EXTRAORDINARY INFORMATION REVOLUTION WHOSE ESSENCE IS EMBODIED IN DIGITAL INDIA. 

OUR PRIME MINISTER HAS ENTRUSTED ME WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ENSURING THAT AS INDIA TRANSFORMS AND REORGANIZES ITS POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC LANDSCAPE, RIDING ON THE POWER OF TECHNOLOGY AND CONNECTIVITY, WE MUST ALSO SIMULTANEOUSLY STRIVE FOR A GLOBAL ECOSYSTEM THAT CAN ACCOMMODATE SUCH A TRANSFORMATION OF INDIA AND OTHER NATIONS WITH MISSING SIMILAR CHANGES. 

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, EVERY INDIAN MUST HAVE THE CAPACITY TO PARTICIPATE IN GLOBAL DECISION-MAKING, ON HOW WE MANAGE THIS COMMON RESOURCE, AND SO MUST EVERY GLOBAL CITIZEN. 

GOVERNMENT WILL, OF COURSE, CONTINUE TO SHOULDER THE CENTRAL RESPONSIBILITY TO SECURE THE NETWORKS, THE ECONOMIC INTEREST, LIVES AND PROPERTY OF PEOPLE, ADD SOME FORCES TO PEACE AND PROSPERITY OF PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE, BUT THEY CANNOT DO IT ALONE. 

HENCE, WE ARE DETERMINED TO FORGE A PARTNERSHIP WITH LIKE-MINDED COUNTRIES AND PARTIES THAT WILL UNABLE NATIONS — NATION STATES TO BE EFFECTIVE AND PROPORTIONATE IN THE RESPONSE TO THE EMERGING TEXT. 

BUT SECURITY CANNOT BE FOR THE SAKE OF SECURITY. IT IS NOT AN END TO ITSELF, BUT A MEANS TO OFFER UNFETTERED LIBERTY, LIMITLESS COLLABORATION, IN THE NEW AGE OF IDEAS. 

WHAT IS REQUIRED, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IS A MULTILAYERED SYSTEM TO MANAGE THIS DIVERSE AND DYNAMIC MEDIUM. KEEPING IN MIND THE BITS AND THE BYTES THAT BIND TOGETHER TO CREATE A WHOLE NETWORK OF NETWORKS, INDIA RECOGNIZES THAT ALL THE STAKEHOLDERS ARE KEY AND MULTISTAKEHOLDERISM IS PERHAPS THE ONLY WAY TO KEEP THE SYSTEM INTEGRATED, GROWING AND EXPANDING THROUGH NEW INNOVATIONS AND INVESTMENTS. 

AND WE DESIRE WE HAVE AMBITIONS TO RETAIN THE INTEGRATED AND UNIFIED CHARACTER OF THE INTERNET, THE DYNAMISM OF THE INTERNET, WE’LL HAVE TO BUILD AND MAINTAIN PLURAL AND DIVERSE GOVERNANCE MODELS. THE GLOBAL MUST BE LINKED TO THE LOCAL, AND LOCAL VOICES MUST BE HEARD AT THIS DEBATE. 

NOT ONLY DO WE SUPPORT MULTISTAKEHOLDERISM, BUT ALSO WE ENCOURAGE MULTISTAKEHOLDERISM ITSELF TO EMBRACE ALL GEOGRAPHIES AND ALL SOCIETIES. 

WE WILL PARTNER WITH YOU, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, ALL TO MAKE THIS A REALITY. WE MUST WORK TOWARD THIS NEW FORM OF DIGITAL DEMOCRACY. 

INDIA IS LOOKING TO THIS NEW GLOBAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR THE INTERNET WITH A BILLION EXPECTATIONS. HOW HOW WE EVOLVE TO CREATE ORGANIC STRUCTURES TO MEET UNIVERSAL OBJECTIVES AND NOT UNIVERSAL STRUCTURES FOR COMMON OBJECTIVES? THE GOAL OF CREATING AN INTERNET INCLUDES THE IDEA OF BEING NOT ONLY OPEN, BUT GLOBAL, SECURE, AND RESILIENT. 

WE PROPOSE TO ALL OF YOU THAT IT MUST BE FAIR, IT MUST BE EQUITABLE. THAT IS WHY INDIA LOOKS FORWARD TO HOSTING ALL OF U THE STAKEHOLDERS CENTRAL TO THE INTERNET OF THE NEAR FUTURE, TO CONTINUE THE IMPORTANT WORK YOU DO HERE, AND TO FURTHER DISCUSS HOW TO KEEP THIS MOMENTUM GOING. 

AS INDIA ADDS A MILLION USERS EVERY MONTH, WHAT INDIA DOES TO MANAGE THIS TRANSFORMATION WILL HAVE AN INDELIBLE IMPACT ON THE GLOBAL DEBATE. 

WE SEEK YOUR PARTICIPATION FOR YOU TO BE A PART OF OUR STORY. AS WE REMAIN COMMITTED TO SHARE OUR EXPERIENCES, TO SHAPE A GLOBAL AGENDA. 

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THEREFORE, TO CONCLUDE, LET ME RESTATE THE INDIAN VISION FOR THE INTERNET. THE INTERNET MUST REMAIN PLURAL, MUST BE MANAGED BY A MULTILAYERED AND MULTISTAKEHOLDER SYSTEM. ITS STRENGTH WILL LIE IN PARTNERSHIP MADE BETWEEN LIKE-MINDED NATIONS AND STAKEHOLDERS, BUILT ON A PLATFORM WHICH SUPPORTS AND WILL SUSTAIN A FUTURE OF EQUITY AND INNOVATION AND COLLABORATION AND INCLUSION. ONLY THEN WILL WE TRULY BE ABLE TO MANAGE THE ECOSYSTEM OF THIS NEW DIGITAL AGE. 

ALL THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE THE INTERNET IS ONE OF THE FINEST INVENTIONS OF HOW MANY MIND. IT MUST REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF ALL AND MUST BE AVAILABLE AND ACCESSIBLE TO ALL. 

THANK YOU.

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3 thoughts on “IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s Remarks at ICANN53

  1. Pingback: Experts Debate IANA Transition: “Designing In A Straitjacket” Or Securing Stability?

  2. Pingback: US-India Cyber Dialogue 2015 | Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University, Delhi

  3. Pingback: Opportunism or glasnost? India’s embrace of multistakeholderism in Internet governance – The Internet Democracy Project

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