Indian PM Modi visits Facebook headquarter in California, meets Mark Zuckerberg

Social media has bridged the gap between governments and public, says Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a town hall-style interactive session at Facebook’s headquarters at Menlo Park in California.

MENLO PARK, CALIFORNIA, USA (SEPTEMBER 27, 2015) (ANI) – Social media has bridged the gap between governments and public, said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a town hall-style interactive session at Facebook’s headquarters at Menlo Park in California on Sunday (September 27).

Modi, who met Facebook Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg, underlined the growing influence of social media in governance.

“Today, social media’s power is such that it stops any government from committing any wrong. The governments are afraid to do any wrong. It also gives governments the chance to rectify their mistakes quickly. Earlier, it used to be after five years, now this chance comes every five minutes,” said Modi.

The Indian Prime Minister, himself a popular figure in social media, suggested world leaders to use the social media to frame policies according to the needs of people.

“If the governments are aware, alert and conscious, then with the help of real time information, they can take corrective measures, frame their policies accordingly and can speed up the pace of the work,” said Modi.

Modi boasts an 87 percent approval rating in India and is the second-most popular world leader on social media after US President Barack Obama.

He has 15 million Twitter followers and more than 30 million “likes” on Facebook.

Before the meeting, both Zuckerberg and Modi had changed the display pictures of their Facebook profiles to support Modi’s ‘Digital India’ initiative and had urged others to follow suit.

Zuckerberg had asked people to post questions for Modi to be asked during the Q&A session, and reportedly received more than 40,000 queries, ranging from those about Internet expansion in India, unemployment rates and calls for Modi to address his human rights record.

Answering one such question, Modi said India needs to stress both physical infrastructure and digital infrastructure for development.

He announced that the Indian government will try to connect all 600,000 villages in India with optical fiber networks in the next five years.

Modi recounted his days of struggle and got emotional while talking role of his mother in raising him.

Zuckerberg, meanwhile, applauded the Indian Prime Minister for his ambitious ‘Digital India’ initiative.

“I am deeply appreciative of Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to ‘Digital India’, to make this enormous opportunity a reality for all Indians. And I am personally also impressed by the example Prime Minister Modi has set of using the Internet and social media to communicate directly with Indian citizens,” said Facebook founder.

Modi, 65, is the first Indian leader to visit the US West Coast in more than 30 years. His trip follows a similar visit by China’s President, Xi Jinping, who met several tech leaders in Seattle last week.

Modi’s tour reflects India’s growing influence in the technology sector.

Modi, who is eager to bring bigger technology investments and jobs back to India to help its growing startup scene, invited investors in India and promised them a favorable condition.

He has also sought to encourage some Indians who have thrived around Silicon Valley to bring their knowledge back home.

He is to meet Obama on September 28 and take part in UN Peacekeeping summit.

Modi will wrap up his US tour on September 29.