The Three Musketeers

First Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to the US and swept both Indians and American businessmen off their feet. Barely had he returned from his hugely successful meeting with US President Barack Obama when two of America’s most successful entrepreneurs — Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos — made a beeline to meet up with him.

By Sudha Menon (People of the week)

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Published: Sat 18 Oct 2014, 8:54 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 10:19 PM

It is not everyone that can persuade Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to trade in his casual jeans, T-shirt and sneakers for a tony suit and tie but last week the young technology billionaire decided to do just that. The occasion, you see, demanded it. He was, after all, meeting the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, the social media savvy new head of a country that is Facebook’s second largest market.

As expected, the meeting was heavy on all things social media could do for development of the country which recently put its trust in Modi by giving him and his party an absolute majority. Modi, it may be recalled, used Facebook and other social media platforms during his high-decibel campaign a few months ago and has been using it to keep his hand on the pulse of public opinion.

As for Zuckerberg, he conveyed to Modi his excitement about the former’s ‘Swach Bharat’ initiative and has taken up the responsibility of developing a Clean India app to support the campaign that saw Modi himself pick up a broom and sweep the streets of India’s capital city. Modi has also sought Zuckerberg’s help in his ambitious Digital India initiative to provide internet connectivity to the remotest corners of the country and has requested him to also work to enhance internet literacy amongst the masses. Zuckerberg also wants to partner the government in healthcare and promotion of education in the country. We are guessing Zuckerberg went home a happy man. Zuckerberg was not the first US billionaire to meet Modi last week. Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos who was in India on a four-day visit to Amazon’s India offices, extended his trip so he could meet Modi who was on his high profile trip to the United States of America. The India trip could be crucial for Bezos who is struggling to compete with a clutch of aggressive local e-tailers in India and trying to fend off Alibaba’s onslaught in the world market.

Amazon has not made the kind of mark in the Chinese marketplace as it should have, thanks to Alibaba and we are figuring Bezos does not want to take chances with the Indian market which is expected to overtake the United States in terms of internet user base which is close to 250 million by end 2014.

Not surprisingly, Bezos met with Modi and has also promised a $2 billion investment in the Indian operations, giving a fillip to Modi’s Make in India campaign.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to invest in India such as on the infrastructure side, transportation side, fulfilment centres, mobile, customer acquisition, product categories. This team has big plans for the fashion category, for instance. So lots of different things. I’m here because I wanted to celebrate with this team and also meet with customers. I had a luncheon with customers earlier today,” he told Mint in recent interview.

All in all a tale of three men with very clear goals and an agenda of their own.

Dare we call them the modern day Three Musketeers?

sudhamenon2006@gmail.com



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