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Twenty meetings in two days as PM Modi visits Silicon Valley

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PM Modi’s two-day visit to Silicon Valley, starting September 26, has a number of headline-grabbing moments before he signs off in front of around 17,000 people.

TWENTY EVENTS in two working days, including visits to headquarters of Google and Facebook, meetings with Apple’s Tim Cook and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, and a dinner with top tech CEOs.

The high point of any big-ticket foreign trip by PM Narendra Modi is his star turn in front of a large gathering of Indian expats. But his two-day visit to Silicon Valley, starting September 26, has a number of headline-grabbing moments before he signs off in front of around 17,000 people.

There’s even one event that will take place in his absence: an overnight Hackathon in support of his flagship initiatives, Digital India and Skills India, involving more than 200 software engineers from the Tech Mahindra office in Noida and 200 engineers at Google’s Mountain View base.

The results of the Hackathon — around 24 web and mobile apps — will be shared with Modi when he visits Google headquarters on September 27.
The PM will be staying at the Fairmont San Jose hotel, where he will host meetings on September 26 with Apple CEO Cook and Microsoft CEO Nadella, and the Governor of California Jerry Brown the next day.

The other main events in West Coast include: a lunch hosted by Indian Ambassador Arun Kumar Singh; a visit to the office of Tesla, the clean energy firm; a Q&A Town Hall along with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at Menlo Park; and India-US Startup Konnect, where 30 Indian start-ups will showcase their ideas to Venture Capitalists (VCs).

Official sources told The Indian Express that while the first leg of Modi’s engagements in the US from September 24-26 — the UN General Assembly, bilateral meetings — has been planned by the Ministry of External Affairs, the West Coast schedule has been mapped by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The visit to the Palo Alto facility of Tesla may turn out to be the other highlight because of Modi’s interest in solar power technology. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has already offered to deploy Powerwall, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for use in residences, in India. Modi is likely to offer Tesla a role in his Smart Cities project.

Modi will also take part in a round-table discussion on clean technologies and renewable energy at Stanford University, where he will also hear about inventions and ideas for sustainable development. “As an entrepreneur and VC in Silicon Valley, I’ve never seen this level of excitement among my peers. PM Modi has a charisma that is striking the right chord with the most influential and dominant community here, ie, the VCs and entrepreneurs,” Karl Mehta, founder & CEO of EdCast Inc, a knowledge platform company, said.

Mehta’s team in Silicon Valley will be organising the Hackathon. “We will be building rapid prototypes of apps by coding all night towards the PM’s Digital India, Skilled India and Smart Cities vision,” said Mehta, adding that his company plans to skill 500 million people in India through digital learning. He said the Hackathon is part of a “Code for India mission to inspire techies worldwide to volunteer with their tech talent for social impact”.

The discussions at Google may also include the effectiveness of deploying the company’s balloon technology for providing Internet service in rural India. According to the schedule examined by The Indian Express, Modi’s Google visit is slotted to start at 11 am, in between his Facebook session scheduled at 9.30 am, and the public address at the SAP auditorium starting 7 pm.

His West Coast Itinerary
Sep 26: Arrival at West Coast; lunch hosted by Ambassador for local Indian community; visit to Tesla’s HQ in Palo Alto; meeting with Apple’s Tim Cook and Microsoft’s Satya Nadela; dinner with 400 CEOs.

Sep 27: Town Hall at Facebook HQ; visit to Google HQ; meeting with Governor of California Jerry Brown; India-US Startup Konnect; round-table at Stanford; address at SAP auditorium.

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