Modi continues rock-star US tour with Facebook town hall

Published: September 27, 2015


SAN FRANCISCO: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not only speak to Silicon Valley’s biggest executives during his two-day visit to the US tech hub but will also take questions from some of Facebook Inc’s 1.5 billion users at a town hall on Sunday.

Modi, 65, is the first Indian leader to visit the US West Coast in more than 30 years. His trip follows a similar visit by China’s president, Xi Jinping, who met several tech leaders in Seattle last week.

The Indian premier continues his Silicon Valley tour on Sunday with visits to Facebook and Google Inc headquarters before an event at the San Jose Convention Center that 18,000 people are expected to attend.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced Modi’s visit on his Facebook page earlier this month and invited users to post questions.

Read: India’s Modi eyes Silicon Valley on US trip as euphoria fades

More than 37,000 comments were made in reply, with questions ranging from those about Internet expansion in India, unemployment rates and calls for Modi to address his human rights record.

Modi has been criticised for not doing enough to stop 2002 religious riots in Gujarat that killed about 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, when he was chief minister of the state. He has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

Some groups have protested against his arrival. The Sikhs for Justice group has called on its members to picket Facebook headquarters before the town hall.

However, Modi remains wildly popular and is expected to receive a rock-star welcome through most of his visit.

Modi boasts an 87 per cent approval rating in India and is the second-most popular world leader on social media after US President Barack Obama. He has 15 million Twitter followers and more than 30 million “likes” on Facebook.

Modi is eager to bring bigger technology investments and jobs back to India to help its growing startup scene. He has also sought to encourage some Indians who have thrived around Silicon Valley to bring their knowledge back home.

Much of his visit, which began Saturday, has also focused on connecting with the Indian diaspora community in Silicon Valley.

Read: Modi to visit Facebook headquarters in US: Zuckerberg

On Saturday, he attended a dinner with 350 business leaders where Indian-born CEOs Satya Nadella of Microsoft Corp, Google Inc’s Sundar Pichai and Shantanu Narayen of Adobe Systems Inc moderated a panel.

Modi visited Tesla Motors headquarters on Saturday and met Chief Executive Elon Musk, where the two discussed battery technology, energy storage and renewable energy. He also met Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook.

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Reader Comments (28)

  • Sep 27, 2015 - 2:25PM

    And our PM take lollipop of Polio from Bill Gates. Recommend

  • Dubya
    Sep 27, 2015 - 2:53PM

    And yes Indians too have not forgotten Mumbai attack …. for which Pakistanis are responsible .. the whole world knows about it ….
    Yes the whole world is waiting for the justice ….Recommend

  • Ayati
    Sep 27, 2015 - 3:06PM

    Wow, ET! You guys actually published an article on Modi without any negative headings! Impressed!Recommend

  • ahmed wani
    Sep 27, 2015 - 3:40PM

    nawaz sharif should meet some healthcare companies to sought out polio problem for pakistanis………Recommend

  • Gaurav
    Sep 27, 2015 - 3:46PM

    It’s nice to see this kind of welcomeRecommend

  • Murali Nair
    Sep 27, 2015 - 4:40PM

    It is not about Modi or anyone else. India is a vibrant democracy. It is not for no reason that the world leaders are talking with India. It is neither for no reason why the world CEOs want to talk with India. While I have nothing against Pakistani community, in fact I have some many friends there, but my question is why Pakistan can not work on similarly developmental agenda and leave aside century old animosity and the “one enemy” attitude? Please understand – it is not a Satya Nadella or a Sundar Pichai or a Shantanu or an Indra Nooyi that is in question – the problem with Pakistan is its education system – a system which teaches only hatred and anti-science. If that is done away with (and mind you I have read several Pakistani school text books when I worked in Dubai), I am sure Pakistan will equally be on the world stage. Why hate India being on the world stage, when Pakistan is looking centuries back? Remember, India is putting its Astrosat in two days time; where is SUPARCO? Google, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft and lovingly even Lockheed Martin wants to look at India. Why are they not looking at Pakistan? They are all from Pakistan’s age old ally the US? The answer lies in your education system. That said, I do love every human being, and so do for my age old brothern in Pakistan. Forgive me, if I have been a little critical. But let us have the courage to face the fact and realities. Recommend

  • Murali Nair
    Sep 27, 2015 - 4:55PM

    @Dubya: Don’t you think give and take policy is not unidirectional but bidirectional? Why cant both par’ties forget the past and look to future? I am an Indian and I am a Hindu by birth; that much I will tell you.Recommend

  • Anil
    Sep 27, 2015 - 5:40PM

    It is good to see positive remarks about Modi in your paper.There is always a hidden love over hate amongst us. Lets we all work together for the betterment of our fellow citizens.Time has come to join hands.Recommend

  • san
    Sep 27, 2015 - 5:48PM

    @Murali Nair: well said!Recommend

  • SKChadha
    Sep 27, 2015 - 6:07PM

    We as Indians feel sad while leaving our brothers of our shared motherland behind on the path of progress. Don’t you? Let us hold hand and come together to make this sub-continent more peaceful and progressive. The differences can be settled overtime.Recommend

  • VGP
    Sep 27, 2015 - 6:58PM

    There was no negative heading for sure, but the Gujarat bit had to be put in even though it has no relation with the topic Recommend

  • Khan
    Sep 27, 2015 - 7:24PM

    @Murali Nair:
    Thank you for saying how it is .. the only way forward is give and take on the land disputes as it is consuming our resources and both sides are wasting their energies on it rather than focusing completing on welfare of its people. That is what Musharraf had proposed but I have no idea why were they not able to implement it during almost 10 years Recommend

  • Maverick
    Sep 27, 2015 - 7:33PM

    Obviously: the US is full of Indians who have fled crushing poverty in their own country!

    And what’s more is: in the US, they have toilets!Recommend

  • Khan
    Sep 27, 2015 - 7:46PM

    @Murali Nair:
    You have raised a valid and to the point question and have almost answered it. The problem is in the educated “systems”. While the private sector is better and somewhat develops critical thinking and is not wholly based on rote system.. the problem lies in public schools and madrasas that rely on rote system instead of developing critical thinking in the pupil. These pupil are not able to progress in workplace in future and are stuck in low type jobs.

    Although, we do need a uniform education system I would disagree that our education system as a whole is anti science or teaches hatred. Besides no one sends their children to school for learning just one subject of history. I have studied the same books and our emphasize used to be on Science subjects while Pakistan studies etc we used to read only during the exams.Recommend

  • Salim Khan
    Sep 27, 2015 - 8:40PM

    Modi has changed the views of India, totally, the world over. He is not only highly popular in India, but also abroad (Pew research). That is why in just one meeting of Silicon Valley, he has generated billions of Investment into India, that will not only expand its economy but also creates millions of employment. This is how nations emerge as world leaders.Recommend

  • Nikus
    Sep 27, 2015 - 8:59PM

    Indian mainstream media is not kind to NaMo. He depends on facebook and twitter to convey his messages to the masses. That is the reason, he is looking for better penetration of digital media, such that, he can directly interact with as many people as he can.I don’t think, other than that, it will benefit much to the Indian masses. BTW, I am not congress agent and works for R & D centre of HP in Bangalore.Recommend

  • Salim Khan
    Sep 27, 2015 - 9:06PM

    Whether we like it or not, we are not growing and declining because of our enmity with India. We may deny it however much but India is emerging as a powerful nation. It has not only a big economy, but has also changed govt. in our neighbouhood. He can’t bring such power into Pakistan because of our close relationship with China. That is why its destabilising the nation. But is that what we want? Are we limited to just fighting our neighbour who has huge economic and political power.Can’t we bring about our own growthdevelopment? Prosperity? Or we always remain fighting with India, that will never bring any peace and stability to Pakistan and which continue to assure killings, violence, poverty, disease?Recommend

  • Vivek
    Sep 27, 2015 - 10:08PM

    @Murali Nair: Can you make a dog tail straight ?
    As long as Rawwalpindi has the control over security and FO nothing is to change in near future Recommend

  • Mullah Deewana
    Sep 27, 2015 - 11:14PM

    While Modi is busy wooing CEOs of top Fortune 500 companies to invest in India, Nawaz has started singing his age old “Kashmir-Kashmir” tune again. What a contrast. This sums up the destinies of the two nations separated in 1947.Recommend

  • ABK Ind
    Sep 27, 2015 - 11:57PM

    @Maverick: can’t blame pakistanis like you. Dream on thinking that pakistan is some very developed Scandinavian country.
    dear hopefully well literate pakistani friend please get it right success of China is not success of pakistan. The same way as failure or pointing faults in india doesnt lead to growth of pakistan.
    Hopefully pakistan comes out of its problems & dream of becoming leaders of global organisations with HQ in US & UK rather than in Afghanistan & Syria.Recommend

  • Wise man
    Sep 28, 2015 - 12:37AM

    I think Kashmir is the only issue for Pakistan to focus on. Other issues can wait for a few thousand years …Recommend

  • Sep 28, 2015 - 2:04AM

    Regardless what we may think of his political or religious leanings – one thing for sure he certainly can use the social media in a powerful and effective way to communicate which brings many to connect with his viewpoints. This is a powerful lesson for all leaders in the 21st Century.Recommend

  • hari
    Sep 28, 2015 - 5:48AM

    Meanwhile somewhere else a clueless PM is harping on Kashmir which any way no one is going to listen to.!Recommend

  • Blouses
    Sep 28, 2015 - 12:39PM

    Will questions about the Gujarat pogrom be allowed at the Facebook Town Hall?Recommend

  • musa ali khan
    Sep 28, 2015 - 1:49PM

    when Pakistan gets a common man/woman its leader like India then things will get better otherwise notRecommend

  • Ajay
    Sep 28, 2015 - 2:29PM

    You guys have to get over your obsession with the State of J&K (Which you inaccurately always refer to as only “Kashmir”) India and Indians will never allow any further division of Country on the basis of religion. This goes against the philosophy of secularism which India follows and the whole World supports India on this score. I am sure even the Pakistani Army and Politicians know the futility of their demand very well but just to divert peoples attention from their failures and tacking real issues they keep the issue alive. Due to poverty, lack of education and opportunities, Pakistanis always look for a punching bag to vent their frustrations and the Army and Politicians find it very easy to point fingers at India. It is much more easy to sell hate and fanaticism than peace and love. In the process huge resources are being usurped by the Pakistani Army and their importance and relevance becomes unquestionable. The Pakistani people should understand that India has no desire to destabilize a peaceful neighbor as it is against the business or security interests of India. Probably you need a Statesman and true Nationalist to put you back on track and not just self serving leadership.Recommend

  • Golden Eagle
    Sep 29, 2015 - 12:00AM

    “Modi boasts an 87 per cent approval rating in India and is the second-most popular world leader on social media after US President Barack Obama. He has 15 million Twitter followers and more than 30 million “likes” on Facebook.” What a joke, I have seen many posts on Facebook related donkeys who has the same amounts of ” LIKES”. Goodnight comparison Recommend

  • Namaste
    Sep 30, 2015 - 3:21AM

    @Golden Eagle:
    Congratulations, your comment just have 20000 megawatts of electricity to Pakistani grid
    Few more of such comments and the Pakistani rupees shall beat American dollar in no time Recommend

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