Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit offices of the world's leading technology giants - Google, Apple, and Tesla during his trip to the US West Coast. On September 27, he will address the Indian American community - key contributors to these firms in the Silicon Valley. While Google has a good presence in India and Apple explores the local market as more Indians buy its gadgets, a key visit of Modi would be to Tesla, the electric car company founded by Elon Musk.
Nexus Venture Partners co-founder Naren Gupta, a Silicon Valley veteran of over 45 years and a co-chair of the Indian community event says Modi's engagement with Tesla should look at how India can leapfrog in generating electricity in massive scale through renewables.
"PM Modi knows that we cannot take the same approach of US and China to build more coal fired plants or oil fired plants. We need to take an approach centred on renewable energy," said Gupta in a telephonic interview with Business Standard from San Francisco. Edited Excerpts:
What are the expectations by the Indian American community from Modi's visit?
I would describe the expectation in a number of areas. First thing, PM Modiji has a very ambitious agenda for India. We want to hear directly from him how he expects to execute on the agenda.
Second, how are how are we Indian Americans can contribute and make agenda more successful. Third thing, we want to give suggestions - from our experience in Silicon Valley around innovation, how India might to be able to adopt some of the approaches to solve the difficult problems and apply them in India. For us, biggest hope we have this visit as a starting point of a long term relationship and dialogue. The underlying foundation of Silicon Valley is centred on innovation, and now there are lots of innovations in Bengaluru and other parts of India. We are realistic; you can't solve these problems in India in a day or two. It requires long term involvement and dialogue and participation
Mr Modi is very focused in his approach. The big charter for India is renewable energy and perhaps understanding the dynamics of how Tesla created a whole new industry around electric cars or alternative fuels for transportation, hopefully encourage Tesla to be more involved in India.
India has massive needs for energy and PM Modi knows that we cannot take the same approach of US and China to build more coal fired plants or oil fired plants. We need to take an approach centred on renewable energy. India is not a super rich country and we need to produce electricity from renewables in a cost effective way
As an investor the expectations from the PM visiting some of these companies, (will be to) encouraging them come to India to share some technology to solve our problems. Understanding the tough problems that Modi has embarked like Clean India, Clean Ganges, these cannot happen without innovations. we don't have the kind of resources and it is pretty foresightful of him to visit these companies and build relationship with them.
What are US investors looking from Modi's visit?
There are three dimensions on their expectations.
Most technology executives are liberal and they want to promote democracy. India is the biggest experiment in democracy. Democracies are known to work for the rich, India is not rich and democracy is not just an experiment for India, but for the mankind.
Secondly, India presents a source for talent. One of the biggest issues people here face is where to get talent. India, you know as there are lots of technology companies, run by Indian origin. Everybody wants to tap into talent for technology, but also innovation.
A business like relationship with India of being a market to develop products for India and exported to other countries, Middle East and Africa. The good thing is that it is complementary to the interests of US companies in other parts of the world. It is not whether they invest in India or China, it should be both, and I think they should also invest in other neighbouring countries as the political situation stabilises. There is no better world where your neighbours are prosperous and happy. Lot of interest, expectations in terms of what can be done, but there is also a question of how can we get it done.
PM Modi is visiting the US at the same time when China's President Xi Jinping is in the US, meeting technology companies in the West Coast.
I think it is not with the expense of the other. I think the timing (of Chinese President visit) is coincidental. India is unique with the democratic ways. We (the US) should really build strong relationship
During his past visits, PM Modi has taken the view of having mutual benefits. When he goes to Japan, it is not just how India can benefit relationship with Japan but also how Japan can benefit.
We need to have programmes that benefit everyone. The whole thing that if I win something, somebody else should lose, I believe is very old fashioned. We should march forward. There is tremendous amount of goodwill for India.