25 Sep, 2015
Narendra Modi is India’s first tech-savvy, social media-enabled Prime Minister. He has 15 million followers on Twitter. He won last year’s election with the help of 10-feet holograms that allowed him to make live addresses to more than 100 election rallies simultaneously in the world’s largest democracy.
This week, he will be the first Indian premier to set foot in California in more than 30 years when he visits Silicon Valley, where he is due to meet the bosses of Apple, Tesla Motors, Google, Microsoft and Adobe. The last three CEOs are of Indian origin. On Sunday, Modi and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will hold a question-and-answer session at the company’s headquarters. “This is a Townhall you shouldn’t miss,” Modi said on Facebook, enthusing about India’s role as a hub for tech start-ups.
Modi is also on course to become India’s most-travelled leader. He relishes his role as global ambassador, whether he is meeting his friend “Barack” (Obama) or trying traditional archery in Mongolia.
Back home in India, though, ministers from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and some of his Hindu fundamentalist supporters are starting to look anything but modern. Nor do they even pretend to have an open, internationalist view of the wider world with which Modi wants to engage.