It’s going to be a love-fest when India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Silicon Valley this September, bringing together technology giants and a leader who believes in technology as a weapon for good governance and economic development. Multiple events may be in store for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Silicon Valley, scheduled to take place around Sept. 27, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meetings.
While numerous community organizations are getting together to have a big bash on the lines of the Madison Square Garden extravaganza last September, some technology leaders are chalking up a smaller, more intimate gathering with the Prime Minister.
In the San Francisco Bay area, which houses an estimated half million people of Indian descent, a large number in the technology industry, a reception is being planned on the evening of Sept. 27 at the SAP Center, an indoor arena in San Jose which can seat close to 20,000. That effort is being led, as was the case in Madison Square Garden, by a newly formed organization, Indo-American Community of West Coast USA, which is looking to entrepreneurs, community leaders, physicians, motel owners and representatives of various organizations, as well as individuals for support, Khanderao Kand, one of the founders, told News India Times. Rao has served in senior capacities in the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh of the West Coast area and is a big-data technology entrepreneur.
The IACWC-USA held its first meeting July 19, attended by Vijay Chauthaiwale, head of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Foreign Relations Department, visiting San Francisco to oversee preparations for the community reception and India’s Consul General in San Francisco Venkatesh Ashok. India’s Ambassador Arun K. Singh conferred via video from Washington, D.C. “The event is a historic moment for the Indian community in Silicon Valley and the diaspora in general,” Chauthaiwale is quoted saying in a press release. The last Indian prime minister to visit Silicon Valley was Jawaharlal Nehru in 1949.
“He is the first (Indian) leader to be tech savvy,” and the community is all enthused by the prospect of his being here, Kand said. “He could even connect with Mark Zuckerberg,” of Facebook fame, Kand said, adding, “There is tremendous interest among techies.”
That is the part of the program being drawn up by the Indian government in coordination with a number of Silicon Valley high profile entrepreneurs. Shailesh Mehta, managing general partner at GraniteHill Capital Partners, a venture capitalist firm based in San Mateo, Ca., told News India Times, planning was just getting off the ground. The “big fan” of Modi said Indian-Americans in California want to put their best foot forward. “America does not stop in Washington, D.C. There’s a lot going on elsewhere,” he laughed.
Mehta said the meeting he is helping organize, “will be smaller and discussion will be on specific issues,” and it might be held at Stanford (University). “Our approach is – what can we offer to India, about technology here in the Valley, and on India’s technology agenda.” The focus will be on initiatives the Prime Minister has taken like Digital India, Swachh Bharat and the tech aspect of India’s development, said Mehta who is also a co-founder of The Indus Entrepreneurs or TiE, the storied IT mentoring organization.
Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley were very active in Modi’s elections, Vivek Wadhwa, a technology entrepreneur and academic, recalled. “People donated and held events to support Modi’s victory and many multimillionaires here gave money and advice,” during the BJP campaign, he said, adding, “Modi owes them a lot for helping him.” Besides, “His values are in sync with people here. His ministers are applying technology solutions to India’s major systems. It’s a love fest,” Wadhwa said, one which the likes of Zuckerberg, and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin would might likely join.