As the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi took the stage for the final event of his Silicon Valley tour on Sunday, flashes of light and “Modi, Modi” chants filled the 18,000-seat sports arena in San Jose, California, marked by sporadic protests over his human rights record.
Modi was finishing up a short-lived two-day US West Coast trip and Sunday’s event tracked visits to some of the world’s leading technology companies, hopeful to persuade them to get more jobs and investment in India.
Modi intended to expand ties with the US technology sector and lift India’s digital infrastructure by promoting his “Digital India” campaign, which pursues to link thousands more villages to the Internet.
““The world has started to believe that the 21st century belongs to India. And India has moved on from scriptures to satellites,” said Modi.
Technology officials, keen to grow into India with its 1.3-billion population, embraced Modi’s initiative, with CEOs from. Google Inc., Facebook Inc and Tesla Motors all hosting him at their HQs. Apple Inc. chief executive Tim Cook met with Modi at his hotel.
His visit on second day began at Facebook headquarters with chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, where Modi spent 50 minutes on stage and discussed the importance of social media, technological expansion in the country and Digital India. Modi is an enthusiastic user of social media and the second-most followed world leader after US President Barack Obama.
At one point when Zuckerberg requested him to speak about his mother, he became emotional and said “I came from a very poor family. … We went to our neighbors’ houses nearby to clean dishes, fill water, do hard chores. So you can imagine what a mother had to do to raise her children.”
Later Modi visited Google HQs and met with Sundar Pichai, Indian-born chief executive, who declared that Google would bring wireless Internet to 500 Indian railway stations, news that Modi publicized Saturday night at a dinner with more than 350 business leaders.
Much of Modi’s US visit, on which he received rock-star welcomes, also dedicated on connecting with the Indian diaspora in Silicon Valley, the IT professionals who transferred in their masses over the past two decades to grab job opportunities that weren’t accessible back home.