Modi logs in to Silicon Valley, tech leaders endorse ‘Digital India’

San Jose, Sep 27 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi couldn’t have secured a better endorsement for his “Digital India” initiative, as chief executives of some of the top global tech firms like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Qualcomm announced significant plans for India.

This was during the prime minister’s meetings with Apple chief executive Tim Cook, MicroSoft’s Satya Nadella, Google’s Sundar Pichai, Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs, Cisco’s John Chambers, Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen and TiE’s Venk Shukla. They also joined him later for “Digital India” dinner.

“I see technology as a means to empower and as a tool that bridges the distance between hope and opportunity,” Modi said at the dinner engagement to conclude what was a packed day here, having arrived in the morning from New York.

“Social media is reducing social barriers. It connects people on the strength of human values, not identities,” said the prime minister, an avid user of the medium himself incuding his penchant for selfies with his hosts and guests.

“Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they are the new neighbourhoods of our new world,” he said.

“Since my government came to office we attacked poverty by using the power of network and mobile phones to launch new era of empowerment,” Modi said, adding: “In this digital age, we have an opportunity to transform the lives of people in ways that were hard to imagine a couple of decades ago.”

Earlier, a host of tech leaders said they were upbeat on engaging with India better.

“India under the prime minister’s leadership is moving in the right direction with ‘Digital India’,” Jacobs said, announcing an immediate investment of $1.5 million for innovation labs in the country to support product designing.

“Now it is time for us to collectively empower people from all over the world,” Nadella said, adding that Micosoft intended to partner individual states, and tech companies in this regard.

Nadella gave the example of Surat where Microsoft was working with municipalities on data analytic systems.

Pichai, had a take on another of Modi’s initiatives – that to foster, nurse and promote entrepreneurship. “India is the fastest growing ‘start-up nation’ in the world,” the Google chief executive said.

Some of Prime Minister Modi’s other remarks at “Digital India” dinner:

– From large corporates to young professionals in this great centre of innovation, each can be part of ‘Digital India’

– We recognize that ‘Digital India’ cannot not be built without bridging the digital divide

– Status now is not whether you are awake or asleep. It is whether you are online or offline

– After MyGov.in, we launched Narendra Modi Mobile App, which is helping me stay in close touch with people

– We will use information technology to set up Smart Cities in India

– Like airports, we will have WiFi at 500 railway stations in India with Google as partner

– We will connect all schools and colleges with broadband

– We will expand our public WiFi hotspots

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