Thiruvananthapuram, January 4, 2014
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being received by Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, on his arrival at Thiruvananthapuram airport, in on January 3, 2014.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today launced the e-literacy campaign in Kerala and said such initiatives needed to be taken across the length and breadth of the country to help it realize the full potential of ICT in decentralized governance, in better delivery of services, particularly education, in financial inclusion and in e-commerce.
"The e-literacy programme will also help the common man of Kerala to participate in the exchange of ideas and information that social media enables," he said here after launching the E-Literacy Project to be implemented by Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra.
"It will help the youth to be better equipped for making use of productive employment opportunities. It will also help in building social capital by enabling success stories of community efforts to be shared easily," he said.
He noted that the P N Panicker Foundation, the mother organization of P N Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra, was the first organization in the country to popularise e-reading among the rural masses. He expressed happiness that the Vigyan Vikas Kendra was taking this work forward.
"Many social historians consider the library movement to be the corner stone of the so- called Kerala model of development. I wish that similarly the E-Literacy Project of the Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra will contribute substantially to quickening the pace of Kerala’s social and economic development and to political empowerment of its people," he said.
Dr Singh said Kerala is the leading state in the country in terms of indices of human development.
"Literacy is one of these indices and the fact that Kerala took an early lead in literacy has in turn helped it do well in the other dimensions of human development. The success of the literacy movement in Kerala owes much to a great son of the State, Shri P. N. Panicker. I join all of you in paying tribute to him as we launch this E-Literacy Project to be implemented by the P. N. Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra. I also compliment the Kendra for this initiative," he said.
Dr Singh said that, in today's world of instant communication and the Internet, it was not easy to imagine and appreciate the difficulties which a frail man must have faced as he lit the spark of literacy in a small village in North Kerala in the first half of the last century and then spread his message to the whole of the State.
Later, Mr Panicker’s initiative, the Grandhasala Sangam, ignited a popular cultural movement in Kerala at the end of which the State acquired total literacy in the 1990s, he said.
The Grandhasala Sangam began humbly with 47 libraries in 1945 and grew into a network of more than 6,000 libraries spreading across the towns and villages of Kerala, he said.
Mr Panicker also established the Kerala Association for Non Formal Education and Development (KANFED). The activities of these two organizations working together made a profound impact on the education, culture and development of Kerala, he said.
Dr Singh said Mr Panicker also worked to foster social amity and harmony devoting his last years to the Friendship Village Movement. He continued travelling and working vigorously, sustained by his simple Gandhian life style and an indomitable will, till he passed away on 19th June, 1995.
"I am happy that the Government of Kerala observes 19th June annually as Vayanadinam or the Day of Reading with a week-long series of activities at schools and public institutions," he said.
The Prime Minister said Mr Panicker left an indelible mark at the national level also. The National Literacy Mission has been inspired largely by his work, he said.
Commending the Government of Kerala for setting up an institution to perpetuate the memory of Mr Panicker, he said he was very happy that the Vigyan Vikas Kendra was taking the lead to make Kerala the first e-literate state of the country, in collaboration with the Central and State Governments and Civil Society Organizations.
"The Total E-literacy Campaign to be implemented using the tools of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) will help in reducing the digital divide. This will contribute to improvements in the living standards of the underprivileged population of the State," he said.
Later, Dr Singh also laid the foundation stone of the Global Learning Centre of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) here.
"The Centre will contribute toward an objective that is one of our national priorities - that of imparting skills training to our young men and women on a very large scale," he said.
He said that the Government recognized that it was only by doing this that it could generate opportunities for productive employment for youth in adequate numbers, while at the same time meeting the demands of the expanding economy for a skilled work-force.
"Therefore, our Government has set very ambitious targets for itself in the area of skill development and is working hard to achieve them. We have taken several initiatives in this area and some of them have involved partnership with the private sector," he said.
Dr Singh noted that the proposed Global Learning Centre of TCS would be the largest facility for Information Technology training in Thiruvananthapuram.
When fully functional, it will be able to train about 50,000 associates annually. It will also conduct holistic professional and personal development programs for TCS professionals.
"I am confident that the Centre, which proposes to integrate elegant design, ecological thinking and modern technology, will set global benchmarks for corporate learning institutions," he said.
He noted that TCS was also setting up a software development Special Economic Zone (SEZ) here.
"The Global Learning Centre will further enhance the presence of TCS in the State of Kerala and Thiruvananthapuram in particular. I hope to see even more initiatives by TCS and other IT companies in Kerala especially in view of the high quality of human resource in the State," he said.
Dr Singh said TCS was a shining example of the success of Indian private enterprises in the last 20 years or so.
PM stresses on need for skill development, training
"It has carved a niche for itself in the global market for IT and IT-enabled services and has set benchmarks of excellence in the area of software development. Today, TCS ranks among the top ten IT services companies globally. It is not only the highest valued company in India but also the second most valuable company in the world in the technology services industry," he said.
Dr Singh said he was happy that, apart from being a global leader in the area of IT and IT enabled services, TCS had also been alive to the need for helping society.
"It has taken up several projects in the areas of education, health and environment. The company has made a significant contribution to education through its Adult Literacy Programme which has covered nearly 2 lakh beneficiaries so far. Its BPO employability programme has trained over 22,000 graduates belonging to the weaker sections, many of whom have also been provided gainful employment in the company. TCS has also partnered with the National Skill Development Corporation under Project Udaan to upgrade the skill sets of Kashmiri youth and enable their mainstreaming with corporate India. In the area of health, the company has used its expertise in IT to develop an integrated Hospital Management System which is being used by several hospitals and social organizations," he said.
Dr Singh said the IT sector in India had witnessed phenomenal growth over the past several years, particularly in the area of software development.
"The Government stands committed to providing an enabling environment which encourages the sector to grow even further. Pursuant to recommendations of the Rangachary Report, several taxation issues confronting the IT sector have been addressed. We are also engaged in the resolution of issues pertaining to immigration and visas. We are trying to improve the hardware ecosystem in the country and are exploring the establishment of two semiconductor wafer fabrication manufacturing facilities," he said.
Dr Singh is on a three-day visit to Kerala. He arrived here last night and was received at the airport by Governor Nikhil Kumar, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Cabinet Ministers and others.
Apart from Thiruvananthapuram, he will go to Kochi, where he will inaugurate the Rs 4200 crore Petronet LNG Terminal (PLL) at Puthu Vypeen.
On Sunday, he will participate in the 90th anniversary celebrations of Malayalam newspaper Mathrubhoomi and also attend the 90th birthday celebrations of veteran Congress leader and former Meghalaya Governor M M Jacob, before returning to Delhi.
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