Silicon Valley saw a Modi-esque weekend with the who’s who of digital industry singing praises of the Indian Prime Minister.
PM Modi, the first Indian leader to visit the US West Coast in more than 30 years, met international tech leaders Satya Nadella, Sundar Pichai, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, and Shantanu Narayan, among others.
Promoting ‘Digital India’, Modi said it is “an enterprise for India's transformation on a scale that is, perhaps, unmatched in human history. I want our 1.25 billion citizens to be digitally connected.”
“We are expanding our public Wi-Fi hotspots. For example, we want to ensure that free Wi-Fi is not only there in airport lounges, but also on our railway platforms. Teaming up with Google, we will cover 500 railway stations in a short time,” the Prime Minister said.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed his support for PM Modi’s Digital India initiative, with a profile picture change emblazoned with the Indian tri-colour, ahead of his townhall meeting with the Indian Prime Minister on Sunday. PM Modi followed Zuckerberg with a profile picture change of his own, and said, “Thanks Mark Zuckerberg for the support. I changed my DP in support of the efforts towards a Digital India.”
In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg said, “This morning we welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India to Facebook. We received more than 40,000 questions from the Facebook community for our Townhall Q&A and we had a great discussion about India's future, the value of social media and the importance of family. It was an honor for all of us at Facebook to host the Prime Minister as he shared his thoughts with our community and everyone watching live in India and around the world.”
Over the weekend, top CEOs of American tech companies endorsed the ambitious Digital India programme during interactions with PM Modi in San Jose.
“Digital India will bring about solutions for the challenge of digital divide,” Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO last year, said at a dinner interaction with PM Modi.
PM Modi has accelerated effort to make India the next driver in innovation, said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google. He said India is the fastest growing startups in the world. “We are proud of what is happening in India and share Prime Minister's vision of digital India,” he said.
Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan said that the Digital India initiative would “transform India into a digitally empowered knowledge economy. Prime Minister s vision of Digital India is exciting,” he said.
Along with Nadella, and Narayan, others seated on the dais were John Chambers, CEO of Cisco and next Chairman of US India Business Council (USIBC) and Google CEO Sunder Pichai.
Describing PM Modi as “amazing ambassador” of India, Chambers endorsed Digital India, saying it has the potential to bring about great changes in India. The US and India would be “very strong together under your leadership”, he said.
Paul Jacobs executive chairman of Qualcomm said, “We are extremely excited and motivated by the Prime Minister's Digital India initiative.” Observing that mobile technology is changing everybody's life, he said India is poised to be leader in digital technology.
Jacobs has announced $150 million funds to fuel innovation in Indian startups. He also announced Design India initiative and labs, saying it would help in 'Make in India' program.
Sharing PM Modi's vision of using mobile phone as a key instrument of governance, he said: "India under Prime Minister Modi s leadership is moving in the right direction."
Ahead of the dinner, Apple CEO Tim Cook; Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai met Prime Minister Modi at his hotel in San Jose.