Modi sells Digital India to Silicon Valley giants

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi,
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, centre, walks the hallways of Google headquarters alongside Google executive Sundar Pichai, at right, in Mountain View , California

India has moved from scriptures to satellites, said Modi, attributing the change to the commitment, strength and pledge of the 125 crore people of the country.



By Web Report compiled by Anu Warrier

Published: Mon 28 Sep 2015, 4:17 PM

Last updated: Tue 29 Sep 2015, 2:29 AM

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promoted his Digital India Initiative during his Silicon Valley visit to world's technology giants and tried to convince them to bring in more investment, connectivity and jobs to India.
Addressing a 18,500-strong crowd at the final event of his Silicon Valley tour at sports arena in San Jose, California, Modi claimed that "the world has started to believe that the twenty-first century belongs to India."
India has moved from scriptures to satellites, said Modi, attributing the change to the commitment, strength and pledge of the 125 crore people of the country.
Technology executives, eager to expand into India with its 1.3-billion population, embraced Modi's initiative, with CEOs from Facebook Inc, Google Inc and Tesla Motors all hosting him at their headquarters. Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook met with Modi at his hotel. Indian-born CEOs Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai of Microsoft Corp and Google were among those who moderated a panel before Modi addressed a 350-member business leaders' dinner.
"We must bridge the digital divide and promote digital literacy in the same way that we seek to ensure general literacy," Modi said.

Google announced plans to make Internet accessible to one crore passengers at 100 busiest railway stations in India by the end of next year and will later expand it to 300 other stations, making it one of the largest public Wi-Fi projects in the world.
"I'm very proud to announce that it's the train stations of India that are going to help get millions of people online. In the past year, 100 million people in India started using the Internet for the first time," Google's India-born CEO Sunder Pichai said in a blog post on Sunday after his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 "That's why, today, on the occasion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to our US headquarters, and in line with his Digital India initiative, we announced a new project to provide high-speed public Wi-Fi in 400 train stations across India," he said.
 "This will rank it as the largest public Wi-Fi project in India, and among the largest in the world, by number of potential users," he said.
Google also released a map of India with public Wi-Fi railway stations.

At Facebook headquarters, standing side-by-side with Mark Zuckerberg, Modi made a rock star appearance, advocating for the political power of social media.
"To leaders all over the world; you are not going to gain by running away from social media," said the tech-savvy premier during a town hall-style question and answer session.
"The strength of social media today is that it can tell governments where they are going wrong and give them an opportunity to do a course correction."
Read: Indian PM makes rock star appearance at Facebook
"You will gain from joining it. You need real time information," said the 65-year-old Modi, who has 30 million fans on Facebook and tweets multiple times a day.
Facebook has already launched an effort to connect with lower-income Indians through Zuckerberg's Internet.org project, which promotes Internet use in developing countries by offering free access to a package of web apps on mobile phones.

At a meeting with the startup community, Modi said the mega corporations of today were startups of yesterday, and compared his new government in New Delhi as a startup that had its own share on bumps on the road.
Modi said he understands their challenges, but also the wonderful feeling of creating something new.
Read: 5 key decisions by US tech titans during Modi's visit
"The course of human history and progress has been shaped by imagination, inspiration, invention and innovation. I often say, if there's a strong wind blowing, some might want to shut the window. Others will want to put up a windmill or launch their sails on the seas.
Modi said he sees Startups, technology and innovation as exciting and effective instruments for India's transformation, and for creating jobs for our youth.
The Indian Prime Minsiter started his Silicon Valley tour on Saturday with a visit to "green" car maker Tesla Motors Inc.

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, left, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, left, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

More news from Americas