Modi to visit Silicon Valley to meet top CEOs of US companies


Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Silicon Valley where he will learn firsthand the success story of iconic companies and their leaders with the objective of building a similar ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship in India. During his two day stay in Silicon Valley, he would begin and conclude his engagements with the Indian-American community, the last one being addressing a strong crowd of over 18,500 Indian-Americans at the SAP Centre in San Jose.

Moments after he flies in, Modi's motorcade would drive directly to a lunch hosted in his honour by the Indian Ambassador to the US which is being attended by top Indian American community leaders from across the country. Sandwiched between his two community events would his visits to the campuses of iconic Tesla, Facebook and Google. In addition he would hold meetings with who's who of the corporate leadership of the Silicon Valley ranging from Tim Cook of Apple to Satya Nadela of Microsoft, Sunder Pichai of Google and Shantanu Narayen of Adobe.

The first-ever Indian Prime Minister to visit the Silicon Valley after it became the hub of global innovation and entrepreneurship, Modi's first engagement after the community dinner to drive down to the iconic Tesla. And this is precisely why the Prime Minister decided to visit Silicon Valley to experience and learn firsthand the success story of iconic companies and leaders in New York with the sole objective of building a similar ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship in India, said Indian Ambassador to the US Arun K Singh.

Singh, who was handpicked by Modi to be his top diplomat in US early this year, has made several trips to the Silicon Valley in the five months he has been in this position. "Visiting California a number of times in the past months, I got a clear sense that the role and participation of Indian origin tech entrepreneurs in that area is extremely significant in terms of mainstream cutting edge technology and effort going on there," he says.

"Today, more than 15 per cent startups in Silicon Valley are attributed to Indian origin tech entrepreneurs. Therefore, this is an additional dimension to the potential for cooperation between India and the US", the Ambassador notes. Giving a preview of the Prime Minister's trip to Silicon Valley, Singh said, "what interests us in Tesla is the battery technology" because it has implications in terms of storage for renewable energy. So, that would be an area of interest.

On his return from Tesla, Apple CEO would be waiting for him to have an one-on-one meeting and then Modi is scheduled to have dinner with top CEOs of the IT sector. Among the prominent speakers at the event, before the Prime Minister lays out his vision for digital India, would be top American CEOs John Chambers of Cisco, Paul Jacobs of Qualcomm, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Sundar Pichai of Google and Shantanu Narayen of Adobe. Venk Shukla would be there on behalf of the Indus Entrepreneurs which is a group representing the tech entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley area.

Modi is scheduled to have back-to-back visits to two American IT giants Facebook and Google. At Facebook headquarters in Hacker Square, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg will host an online townhall for Modi which is expected to be watched live by globally. Facebook has received thousands of questions for the event, giving a tough time to Zuckerberg to select the appropriate questions for the Prime Minister.

"This is a very important interaction because of what social media can do. India, as you know, is among the youngest countries in the world and our youth are engaging in social media in a big way, and the meeting with Mr. Mark Zuckerberg will provide an opportunity to see how we can take this forward", said Vikas Swarup, spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs.

From Facebook, Modi would drive down straight to the Google Campus. Here the Prime Minister will have a look at some of the inventions that Google is making in the field of healthcare, in the area of smart grid. And how Google can use its technological innovations to help power Modi's ambitious Skill India and Digital India programmes, Swarup said. Thereafter Modi would meet US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and participate in a round table on renewable energy - coordinated by the US Department of Commerce and Stanford University.

"It will allow us to brainstorm on the possible options available to India in the area of renewable energy", he said. Modi then would attend the India-US Startup Connect 2015. Being coordinated by NASSCOM, some of the leading startups from India will be present. The idea is, how do we kick start the Indian startup ecosystem and how do we connect the Indian ecosystem with the Silicon Valley ecosystem, Indian officials said. After innovation, entrepreneurship, Modi would turn his sight on the fast spreading world of online education when he meets Indian-American Salman Khan, the Founder and CEO of the Khan Academy, one of the largest academies for free online courses.

"It has huge relevance to India as we also scale up our Open University system", Swarup said. Modi is all set to get a rock star treatment later in the night when he drives down to the SAP Center where he would deliver vis vision of India address before a jam packed crowd of more than 18,500 people. "This is the first time our Prime Minister is visiting California after 30 years. So, I think it will be an important occasion for the Indian community in that part of the world to listen to the Prime Minister and his vision for India", Swarup said. Modi would drive down straight to the airport to be in New York for his all important meeting with President Barack Obama.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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