Modi Silicon Valley visit: PM Narendra Modi promises more accountable and transparent governance

By: | Updated: September 27, 2015 1:15 PM

As part of his visit to Silicon Valley, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella, Google's Sundar Pichai and leaders of other tech giants today, before heading for a dinner with 350 business leaders.

modi in silicon valleyAs part of his visit to Silicon Valley, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, Google’s Sundar Pichai and leaders of other tech giants today, before heading for a dinner with 350 business leaders. (Source: Nandagopal Rajan)

As part of his visit to Silicon Valley, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, Google’s Sundar Pichai and leaders of other tech giants today. Modi is visiting the tech capital of the world Silicon Valley to further his dream of ‘Digital India.’ Modi’s arrival marks the first time an Indian head of state has been in California in 33 years.

The tech leaders that the PM met included Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen, Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs, Cisco’s John Chambers and The Indus entrepreneurs president Venkatesh Shukla in San Jose. He also met Apple CEO Tim Cook and visited the plant of Tesla Motors.

The Prime Minister addressed a gathering of technology leaders at the the Digital India and Digital Technology Dinner where he shared his vision for his Digital India and Make in India initiatives. Top tech leaders also announced plans of how their companies intend to cooperate with India in realising the vision.

“As our economy and our lives get more wired, we are also giving the highest importance to data privacy and security, intellectual property rights and cyber security,” he said at a dinner interaction attended among others by Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Qualcomm executive chairman Paul Jacobs and Google CEO Sunder Pichai.

“We will transform governance, making it more transparent, accountable, accessible and participative,” Modi said, adding that E-Governance is foundation of better governance efficient, economical and effective.

In a nation of one billion cell phones, M-Governance or mobile governance has the potential to make development a truly inclusive and comprehensive mass movement. “It puts governance within everyone’s reach,” he said.

Modi said Digital India was born out of conviction that it was possible to rapidly transform the lives of people on margins and touch the lives of the weakest, farthest and the poorest citizen of India as also change the way our nation will live and work.

“We will connect all schools and colleges with broadband. Building I-ways are as important as highways,” he said.

“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,” he said.

The government, he said, wants to free citizens from the burden of excessive paper documents in every office.

“We want paperless transactions. We will set up a digital locker for every citizen to store personal documents that can be shared across departments,” he said.

Setting up of Ebiz portal has made approvals for businesses and citizens easy and efficient, technology is being used to impart scale and speed to development, he said.

Calling for bridging the digital divide and promote digital literacy, Modi said in the same way that we seek to ensure general literacy, technology must be accessible, affordable and value adding.

Modi said that by using space technology and internet, 170 applications have been identified that will make governance better and development faster.

“Today, technology is advancing citizen empowerment and democracy that once drew their strength from Constitutions. Technology is forcing governments to deal with massive volume of data and generate responses, not in 24 hours but in 24 minutes,” Modi said.

To achieve the vision of Digital India, the government must also start thinking a bit like corporate world, he said.

“So, from creating infrastructure to services, from manufacture of products to human resource development, from support governments to enabling citizens and promoting digital literacy, Digital India is a vast cyber world of opportunities for you,” he said.

Also Common Service Centres will be set up in villages and towns as also use information technology to build smart cities. “We want to turn our villages into smart economic hubs and connect our farmers better to markets and makes them less vulnerable to the whims of weather,” he said.

Stating that access means content being made available in local languages, he said that affordability of products and services is critical for success.

“We will promote manufacture of quality and affordable products in India. That is part of our vision of Make in India, Digital India and Design in India,” he said.

“Since my government came to office last year, we have attacked poverty by using the power of networks and mobile phones to launch a new era of empowerment and inclusion: 180 million new bank accounts in a few months; direct transfer of benefits to the poor; funds for the unbanked; insurance within the reach of the poorest; and, pension for the sunset years for all,” he said.

Stating that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the neighborhoods of the new world, he said if Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populous one and the most connected.

“Google today has made teachers less awe-inspiring and grandparents more idle. Twitter has turned everyone into a reporter. The traffic lights that need to work the best are on CISCO routers,” he said.

Technology is helping a mother in a distant hill village save her new born infant and giving a child in a remote village better access to education, he added.

A small farmer is more confident about his land holding and getting better market price. A fisherman on the sea has a better catch. And, a young professional in San Francisco can Skype daily to comfort her sick grandmother in India, Modi added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived here in Silicon Valley with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship as he became the the first Indian premier to visit the world’s leading tech hub. The trip to Silicon Valley forms part of Modi’s visit to the US’ west coast – the first by an Indian Prime Minister in more than three decades.

Meanwhile before leaving for Silicon Valley, PM Modi held a high-powered summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. The three nations, along with India make up what is known as the G-4 group – countries which back each other’s bid for permanent seats at the UN Security Council or UNSC.

(With PTI inputs)

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