By Arun Kumar
Washington, Sep 29: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrapped up yet another hugely successful visit to the US with a warm hug for President Barack Obama, a courtship with Silicon valley and a love fest with the Indian diaspora.
As Obama said after an hour-long meeting in New York on Monday with “good friend” Modi, building on his “wonderful visit” to Delhi in January, “We’ve elevated our ties. We’ve committed ourselves to a new partnership between our two countries.”
Modi agreed they had “achieved significant progress in our bilateral cooperation and international partnership” and welcomed “the progress in giving shape to our joint strategic vision on Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean region”.
As anticipated, Obama chose to focus on climate issues. India’s leadership at the Paris climate change conference in December, he believed, “will set the tone not just for today but for decades to come”.
Obama said he was encouraged by “the aggressive nature” of Modi’s commitment to clean energy,
Modi said he and Obama “share an uncompromising commitment on climate change without affecting our ability to meet the development aspirations of humanity”.
But Modi also made it clear to Obama, French British Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron, whom he met separately, that a negative approach of capping emissions or adding restrictions was not going to help. Instead a positive approach that includes help for developing countries like financing and technology transfer was needed, he said.
Modi also won renewed support from the big three for India getting a permanent seat in the Security Council and asked them to have the UN reform process completed within a “fixed time frame”.
Modi said after meeting with Obama “we have resolved to further deepen cooperation on counter-terrorism and radicalism”.
But beyond the power meetings with Obama and other world leaders, the real measure of Modi’s success was writ in his wooing the big business and winning over the tech titans of Silicon Valley.
From Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai, Indian-American chief executives of Microsoft and Google to Apple’s Tim Cook and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg everyone seemed keen to get behind Modi’s digital dream.
If Pichai offered to bring wireless Internet or WiFi to 500 railway stations across India, Nadella outlined Microsoft’s plan to help Indian government take low-cost broadband to half a million villages.
Qualcomm promised a 10 billion rupee fund for startups in India “to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy”.
It will also set up a number of ‘design houses’ for product innovation in India.
And selling his dream of turning India’s $8 trillion economy into a $20 trillion economy at a Facebook Townhall with a promise of four Ds — demography, democracy, demand and now de-regulation — he told investors: “Want to Invest? I Have an Address – India.”
But it was the rock star like reception he received in Silicon valley reminiscent of the “Madison Square Garden moment” on the eve of his summit with Obama last year that wowed them all.
Modi “wooed and wowed the tech crowd” and “conquered” Silicon Valley, as the influential New York Times put it.
Modi’s trip, said the Washington Post, had made Silicon Valley “a must-see destination for world leaders” and “signals the rising influence and economic power wielded by this technology hotbed.”