Digital India is an enterprise for the transformation of India... Nothing else will do in a country with 800m impatient youths waiting for change, said PM Narendra Modi.
“California might be among the last places on the globe to see the sun set, but it is here that many great ideas see the first light of the day,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said to thunderous applause at a gathering of CEOs from Silicon Valley on Saturday night. He said the India-US partnership was one of the defining partnerships of the time, one that converges in California.
In an address doused with humour, drawing on the characters of social media that draws its lifeblood in Silicon Valley, the PM touched on everything from green energy to the Internet of Things. “Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the new neighbourhoods of the world. Facebook would be the world’s third most populous country, maybe the most connected of all,” he said speaking in English as hundreds of smartphones recorded every word and others livestreamed or tweeted everything.
“Digital India is an enterprise for the transformation of India in a scale unmatched in human history. Nothing else will do in a country with 800 million impatient youths waiting for change,” said the PM. He said the vision was to connect all schools and colleges with broadband. He announced a plan to expand WiFi coverage across 500 railway stations across India in collaboration with Google.
Sundar Pichai of Google, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, John Chambers of Cisco and Shantanu Narayan of Adobe flanked the Prime Minister on the stage, below the ballroom of Fairmont Hotel was chocabloc with top executives of Silicon valley companies.
Opening the ceremonies, Shantanu Narayan said India’s embrace of technology has changed its destiny and is competing in the world with its greatest asset, its people. John Chambers of Cisco said Modi’s vision of a digital india will succeed as he had the courage and conviction to bring in change.
Satya Nadella who followed said Microsoft is all set to announce availability of cloud services operated out of India.
“Now is the time for all of us to come together to empower people around the world,” he said wrapping up his speech.
Qualcomm chairman Paul Jacobs said the affordable smartphone revolution could end up at 250 million units being sold in 2020 and that would be an opportunity for all companies. “What is interesting is that over 60% of Internet in India is now on mobile,” he said, adding that the country was poised to be a leader in technology. He announced $150 million fund to foster Indian startups and a Design In India initiative to create a local ecosystem for product design.
Sundar Pichai of Google said Modi has driven India’s effort to become the next hotbed of innovation. “It is not just about being online, but what you do online,” he said citing the case of Nisha Madhulika who creates YouTube videos of vegetarian recipes. “India is the fastest growing startup economy in the world. They are not just Indian success stories, but global success stories,” he added.
Earlier in the day he visited the Tesla plant where he was shown around by CEO and Founder Elon Musk. Modi later posed for photographs with Indian staffers at the plant.