Remarks by Consul General Phillip A. Min at TechCamp Chennai

CHENNAI: Good morning, everyone!  Vannakkam!  It’s a pleasure to be here at TechCamp Chennai with such a diverse group of individuals – non-profit leaders, technology experts, and students – all working together to use technology for the greater good.

Before you dive into your technical sessions, I want to speak briefly about why we organize TechCamps and what we hope you will take away from this one.

Our goal today is to provide a forum in which non-profit organizations, NGOs, can work with experts in technology to improve their digital literacy and find low and no-cost online resources and applications.

But let me add that we are also here to learn from you.  Please voice your opinions about what works and what doesn’t.  TechCamp is about networking, and we hope you will learn from each other as well as from the specialists joining us today.

I’m far from being an expert about digital technology – you could say much more than I could about how internet connectivity and applications are changing the world.  But I do know that as Internet penetration increases everywhere, including in India, more and more people have new ways of interacting, solving problems, doing business, or simply making their voices heard.

It is our collective responsibility to make sure these tools are understood and used to create constructive communication and positive change in our societies. I know you all are doing this every day in your jobs – and I want you to know that we appreciate all that you do.

As you heard this morning, these TechCamps are a U.S. State Department initiative to bring together community stakeholders – specifically, civil society groups and their peers – to identify the greatest challenges their communities face, and discover ways that technology can help to solve them.

Globally, our TechCamps have trained hundreds of civil society organizations in more than 45 countries around the world.  Here in India, we have hosted TechCamps in Bengaluru and Mumbai over the past few years.

One of our NGO attendees at the February 2014 TechCamp in Bengaluru was so inspired by what he learned at the workshop, that he went out into rural Karnataka and developed a program that introduced mobile technology and social networking to rural women.  These women can now access education, news, and connect with distant family.

This is just one example among many of what a TechCamp can do.  This same attendee is heading to New York next month to the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women to talk about the projects he has completed – which he devised after attending our TechCamp. It’s truly inspiring to see that the achievements of this NGO will now be heard in a global setting – and that they stemmed from the U.S.-India partnership.

TechCamp is one facet of the deep collaborations between our two countries in science, technology, clean energy, climate change, and innovation.  In the U.S.-India joint statement, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi renewed their support for the role that science, technology, and innovation partnerships can play in addressing global challenges in food security, water, energy, climate, and health.

TechCamp participants are on the front lines of our partnership, finding new solutions for global challenges.  While technology may not be able to solve all our problems, it is a tremendously powerful tool.  It is up to us to master it and use it well, for the benefit of those here in South India – and around the world.  We hope that you will use the tools and techniques and the network of people introduced in this workshop to help solve the challenges you identify today.

Last week in his speech at Siri Fort, President Obama said “America wants to be your partner as you lift up the lives of the Indian people and provide greater opportunity.  America wants to be your partner in igniting the next wave of Indian growth.”

You are key stakeholders in this endeavor between our two countries.  I wish you success today and in the future as you return to your organizations and communities, armed with the knowledge you gained here at TechCamp.

Chalein Saath Saath: Forward together we go! Inaindhu naam mun selvom!