Electronics and information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, on a four-day trip to the US, met leaders of Silicon Valley tech firms, calling them to forge deeper partnership with India and invest in an “improved” climate.
Firms such as Apple, Amazon, Mastercard, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Walt Disney, and PayPal, among others, met the minister at a seminar organised by US-India Strategic Partnership Forum and the Consulate General of India. Prasad also met chiefs of Google, Wipro, Oracle, and GE.
Inviting the US companies, Prasad said: “India offers improved investment climate, growing market, a large pool of talent and improved profitable destination for investment.”
At the seminar, on ‘promoting digital India and economic growth’, Prasad asked the tech giants to invest in tier-II and -III towns. He said development of medical electronics was a priority for the government and incentives would be available at both the central and state levels. He also shared views with the heads of tech giants on the emerging data security issues in India and emphasised that the government was aware of the need to strike a balance between data availability, data anonymity, data innovation, data security and data privacy.
Visiting India-born Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, Prasad discussed the role technology could play in empowering Indians. An official statement said the minister was briefed about Google’s plans for India in areas of connectivity, Indic languages, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and capacity building of start-ups and small businesses. Pichai said it was a privilege to be a part of India’s exciting digital transformation.
After his visit to the Mountain View office of Google, Prasad tweeted: “I felt so pleased to see many Indian professionals working at the @Google campus in California including the CEO @sundarpichai and Ben Gomes, Vice President of Google Search.”
In another tweet, he said: “…Sought greater involvement of Google in digital inclusion programs of India including Digital Village. Asked them to work for creating more awareness among India's farmers about weather & scientific farming.”
Just 14 kilometers away, was the headquarters of Facebook — the firm at loggerheads with the Indian government over privacy and sharing the origin of messages shared on its chat app, WhatsApp. Though Prasad could visit Facebook headquarters, which is at a drive of merely 15 minutes, he gave the site a miss.
The government has issued a couple of notices to WhatsApp to accede to its demand over sharing origin of messages or be prepared to face action. WhatsApp’s payment service has also been stuck for failing to comply with regulations.
Apart from meeting heads of US tech giants, Prasad addressed a roundtable attended by firms including Infosys, Waymo, SVB Financial Group, Palantir Technologies, HP, GE, RBC Capital Markets, McKinsey & Company, and Franklin Templeton Investments, among others. He visited the IBM Innovation Centre, where he was shown the progress made by the company in fields of AI and how it was being used for health care and other sectors.
Prasad also attended a breakfast meeting with Indian origin technocrats from firms, including those from Genpact, Intel, SAP, WNS Global Services, Mindtree and Quatrro Global and sought their views on ways to expand and energise the start-up sector and cultivate innovative practices.
Prasad’s US trip concluded on Wednesday.
Quoting a November 2017 survey by CII, Prasad said that around 100 Indian firms had invested $17.9 billion in the US. According to the report, they also spent over $588 million in research and development and dedicated over $147 million towards corporate social responsibility.