By Kish Rajan
Recently, Narendra Modi became the first Indian prime minister in 30 years to visit Silicon Valley. Given his reputation as the most tech-savvy prime minister in India’s history, it makes sense that Modi broke the dry spell.
The purpose of Modi’s visit was to spread the gospel of Digital India, his initiative to turn India into one of the most digitally-connected countries in the world. At a dinner hosted by Silicon Valley luminaries such as Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Modi called Digital India an “enterprise for India’s transformation on a scale that is, perhaps, unmatched in human history.” Modi wants to “change the way (his) nation will live and work.”
But Modi’s words were unintentionally tinged with irony. He was making his pitch in the heart of a state that is slowly atrophying.
When politicians discuss tackling California’s problems, including the drought, crumbling roads and environmental degradation, they hardly ever turn to the high-tech industry for help.
Meanwhile, Modi is tapping companies such as Cisco, Intel and IBM to help make Digital India a reality. To that end, Qualcomm has already made a commitment to invest $150 million in Indian startups.
Though Modi came here looking for support, California should be looking to Modi for inspiration. Our state, which houses these high-tech giants, fails to innovate to meet our public needs.