Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday described data as the "new oil" and the "new gold" and said India had the potential to lead the world in the industrial revolution, which relied on big data analytics and digital technology to improve manufacturing.
The prime minister was speaking at 'Howdy, Modi!'—the mega event of the Indian American community held at Houston city's NRG stadium.
Addressing potential investors in the United States, PM Modi mentioned the cheap cost of mobile data in India and the increasing use of digital technology to set up start-ups, help economic transactions and interact with the government.
"Today it is said that data is the new oil. I will also add that data is the new gold. Industry 4.0 is focused on data. Now, please listen carefully, if there is one country in the world where data is cheapest, then that is India," the Prime Minister said. "Digital India is India's new face which the world needs to see," PM Modi added.
The prime minister's comments also come as American digital companies, like Facebook, expressed concerns over local laws that say data generated in India must be stored in the country.
India has said it wants foreign companies to store data - personal, social or financial that are collected by search engines, financial platforms or social media sites - locally. The government has also promised new e-commerce rules - a move that has alarmed US technology and financial giants operating in the country.
For a number of US firms, the new rules would prove to be an expensive business proposition as complying would mean setting up fresh infrastructure in India.
Prime Minister Modi is in the United States for a seven-day tour that began with a meeting with CEOs of energy companies on Saturday. "It is impossible to come to Houston and not talk energy! Had a wonderful interaction with leading energy sector CEOs. We discussed methods to harness opportunities in the energy sector," the Prime Minister tweeted after the meet.
The discussion, held at Hotel Post Oak in Houston city, focused on working together for energy security and expanding mutual investment opportunities between India and the United States.
Sources said CEOs of 17 global energy companies participated in the Roundtable. The combined net worth of these companies is $ one trillion and they have a presence in 150 countries. All the companies have some engagement with or presence in India.