Here is the essence of Prime Minister Modi’s recent engagements with the leading men and women of some of the top tech multi-national corporations in the US.
Townhall at Facebook, Q&A session being hosted by the best known start-up maverick Mark Zuckerberg, interaction with engineers at Googleplex after an all-night hackathon, dinner with who’s who of America Inc and repeating the Madison Garden-like magic at SAP Center in the Bay Area are stuff that headlines are made of.
But, cutting out the paraphernalia, here is the essence of Prime Minister Modi’s recent engagements with the leading men and women of some of the top tech multi-national corporations in the US.
An analysis of the various dialogues with the PM across many platforms shows that the $183-billion maker of iPhone and iPad -- Apple Inc -- may have the best to offer in the near term if it actually decides to set up a manufacturing base in India.
Others like Microsoft, Google, Qualcomm, Facebook, Tesla and Cisco have promised to back Modi’s Digital India in meaningful ways, but those will mean long-term gains for India.
The world’s most valuable brand has planned to launch Wi-Fi hotspots at 500 railway stations across India. Currently, Google provides free Wi-Fi access in Mountain View, its headquarters in Silicon Valley. Chief executive Sundar Pichai has also given commitment on more than 10 language options on Android platform. Pichai’s offer is seen more as Google backing Modi’s Digital India.
Apart from the townhall with PM Modi that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg hosted in the campus of the most celebrated social media company, there was talk of bridging the digital divide. No mega announcement of any kind to ‘like’ from Facebook.
Executive chairman of Cisco John Chambers, who’s also the chief of industry chamber — USIBC — has assured Modi, ‘’USIBC and Silicon Valley will be there for you.’’ While there was no talk of investments, the technology major had already made commitments for India. In June, the company announced its plans to invest $2 billion in India this year. Chambers was among those spelling out the challenges in implementing changes in India.
Chief executive of Apple Tim Cook has responded favourably to PM’s invitation to the company to set up a manufacturing base in India, which could imply multi-billion investments. While no specific detail has been given out, Foxconn, leading manufacturer of Apple products, has already decided to invest in plants in India. It is another matter that Apple wants to open fully-owned stores in India and had asked government to relax sourcing norms under single-brand FDI rules for that.
In what could change the face of India, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has talked of extending the automotive company’s knowhow to electrify rural areas of India. Tesla’s power ball technology stores electricity in a battery for long term. “The Prime Minister was very keen to see how we could utilise the battery — the power ball concept — to leap frog development in India,” Vikas Swarup, spokesperson for the ministry of external affairs told the media.
The cab aggregation app company which has been in the news, flagged its recently announced UberPool service in Bengaluru to talk of urban mobility. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said the firm was “creating hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurship opportunities and reducing congestion through carpooling.” Uber, competing with Ola and Meru as well as with automobile manufacturing firms as Indians increasingly shift to taxi, too, had recently announced a $1 billion investment in India over the next nine months.
The largest software company in the world has shown interest to work with the central and state governments in India to take broadband internet using television white space technology to 500,000 villages in India. It will be a low-cost service but Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella is yet to give a timeframe for executing it. The company had, however, piloted the project in Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh, using a technology that harvests bandwidth on unused television channels to deliver broadband access. The white spaces technology will work in the same way as conventional Wi-Fi.
The American semi-conductor company has promised a $150-million fund to help Indian start-ups. CEO of Qualcomm Paul E Jacobs told Modi that the company was looking at a local ecosystem for product design as well. ‘’Design In India’’, Qualcomm said, “is in sync with the PM’s signature campaign — Make In India”.