Facebook, Google pin hopes on Modi for Indian expansion

24 Sep 2015


The biggest beneficiaries of Narendra Modi`s trip this weekend to Silicon Valley could be Facebook and Google if the two global technology giants press the Indian prime minister on issues that hamper their expansion in India when they host him at their headquarters.

For Facebook, the biggest worry is the general opposition to its Internet.org, on which it hopes to ride another revolution in the social media space, while regulatory issues could hamper Google's march in India.

Commentators say if the two could impress the prime minister on the urgency of their concerns, they could expand aggressively in India riding the prime minister's pet programme of Digital India. India could then emerge their biggest market, surpassing the US and China.

Other issues include unreliable electricity, slow internet speeds and an education system that does not produce the kind of engineers that fit their requirements.

With 1.3 billion people and a free economy, India is a crucial market for both Facebook and Google as the two face increasing resistance in China, the world's most populous country.

For Google's CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Modi is key to a market that they can hope to tap as he clearly understands the power of the internet and the social media.

With more than 30 million "likes" on his Facebook page and 15 million Twitter followers, Modi is the second most-followed political leader in the world after US President Barack Obama.

Modi is visiting Google's campus and will hold a town hall show with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

With a million Indians entering the job market every year, Modi also wants to create more jobs in India – both to maintain GDP growth of 9 per cent and to provide them all jobs.

For Modi, technology is vital to increasing jobs and the country's development.

Technology companies are looking eagerly to the first trip by an Indian leader to the US West Coast in more than 30 years as a chance to connect to his policy initiatives, including "Digital India," which aims to connect thousands more Indian villages to the internet and create more tech jobs.

Facebook and Google certainly have increased their presence in India over the past five years, but for Modi to give in, they will have to create more jobs and bring in new technology.

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