San Jose: Mark Zuckerberg said he considers India a “temple” of knowledge from where he took inspiration to rebuild Facebook when the company went through a “rough patch” and was on the verge of being sold over 10 years ago.
Standing side-by-side with Mark Zuckerberg, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a rock star appearance at Facebook on Sunday, advocating for the political power of social media.
At Googleplex, Modi also witnessed the start of a 15-hour hackathon or a marathon software coding session with some 150 Indian programmers looking to produce software and applications relevant to India for Modi’s Digital India and Skill India missions.
He became emotional at one point when Zuckerberg asked him to speak about his mother. It “reinforced for me the importance of what we were doing”, Zuckerberg said.
“You get real time updates, we can come to know instantly when something happens in any corner of the world“.
Earlier as Modi, dressed in a white shirt and black trousers and a black Nehru jacket arrived for the townhall, he was greeted by Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.
“When we were small, what my mother did for a living and for our family to survive was to go to our neighbour’s house and clean utensils”. So you can imagine what a mother had to do to raise her children.
Modi also highlighted that “direct investment from USA has grown by 87 percent in last 15 months”, and with a particularly Googley flourish, said that as cities were once located on highways or rivers, “cities are going to be situated on networks of fibers”.
As with the other tech firms, FB is considering India as a most important zone – it’s the second biggest customer base for its social media creations – and has introduced proposals with zones like India in mind.
“Brain drain can become brain gain…”
Social media allows people to constantly vote, Modi told the crowd. “This is the vision and the spirit behind Digital India, to use technology to transform governance, empower our citizens, eliminate barriers to opportunities, deepen social change, impart scale and speed to development, improve delivery of services, design affordable products for the poor, customise services for specific groups, and build a more sustainable future for our planet”, he said. “Now we have them every five minutes”, he joked.
“If we want to achieve our economic goals, then we can not do that if we imprison 50% of our population inside our homes”, he said.
Modi, who is here to give a strong push to his drive for technological innovation in India, also met Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen, Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs, Cisco’s John Chambers and The Indus entrepreneurs president Venkatesh Shukla. “I wished the Israeli PM in Hebrew and he replied in Hindi”, he said. However, Internet accessibility campaigns in India like Facebook’s Internet.org have endured criticism from those who think making certain companies gateways to the web could hurt Net Neutrality.