Mukesh Ambani calls for closing COVID-19 vaccine and digital divide

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Reliance Industries CMD Mukesh Ambani called on Monday to close the COVID-19 vaccine gap between nations as well as the digital divide.

Speaking at the Qatar Economic Forum, Ambani said connectivity and communications have become a basic need and a basic right of every human being.

The billionaire identified the vaccine divide between nations as the biggest challenge and said the world must get rid of it. While much of the developed world will be vaccinated by the end of the year, India has also taken many steps and would do well by the end of the year or the first quarter of next year, Ambani said.

However, the world must come together to vaccinate everyone, he said.

Speaking on digital infrastructure, Asia’s richest man said it was hard to imagine what India would have been like without the 4G telecommunications network during the pandemic.

“The digital divide must be bridged, both between nations and within nations. Indeed, connectivity and communications have become the basic needs, as well as the basic rights of every human being on the planet (just as basic as food, clothing and shelter, “he said.

Ambani, who heads Jio Infocomm, said the day was saved thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a “digital India” long before the pandemic broke.

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“Our Prime Minister (had) appealed for Digital India and I had the privilege (that) our digital service company called Jio deploys a 4G network across the country by 2018,” Ambani said. “We have always wondered what we would have done without a 4G network across India to deal with the corona crisis.”

He said the digital infrastructure was very useful during the pandemic for people working from home, for immunization, and for children to learn and study from home.

“I think this chain of digital and physical (healthcare) infrastructure will be the new normal,” he said. “In my opinion, it is essential that all economies integrate and improve this digital infrastructure that was so useful during the corona crisis. ”

Ambani said the other challenge after the pandemic is to ensure that economies that have not received stimulus support are healed and grow. He said the whole world and the global economy should grow in a sustainable way, and governments, businesses and civil society will need to work together for this.

To a question, he said there was no choice but for companies to embrace a sustainable business model by embracing clean energy.

“At Reliance, we have embraced this wholeheartedly and (we are) transforming each of our business lines into sustainable, recyclable and fully transparent environmental, social and governance standards. And I think that’s a prerequisite for every business to survive, as it goes forward, “he said.

Ambani also called for investments in education and health care by governments around the world to reduce inequalities and provide equal opportunities for all.

“I think that this pandemic will not be the last health crisis that humanity has known and it is important (…) that all work together”, he declared while insisting on the urgent need to modernize the health infrastructure around the world.

(With PTI inputs)

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