Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday invited Americans to invest in India taking advantage of its three unique strengths — democracy, demography and demand — to which he added a fourth one, deregulation.
“What India has, the world doesn’t, we have the 3 Ds — democracy, demography and demand, which is our unique strength,” Modi said during a town hall style interaction with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at its Menlo Park headquarters.
Noting how the perception of India had changed in a short period of time thanks to the power of social media, he said technology can help India, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, in its quest to become a $20 trillion economy.
“We are an $8 trillion economy today. My dream is for India to become a $20 trillion dollar economy,” Modi said.
“Amazing, how perception about India has changed in a very short time. We have brought in a new level of confidence,” he added.
“You are associated with the service sector, and I have seen the power of it,” Modi said.
“If you look at tourism for example, India has tremendous potential. Technology has really helped the industry and has brought the world together.”
“People in India don’t know where to invest their money. I am giving them the addresses. Go, here’s where you can invest your money,” he said.
He was responding to a question from a techie who moved to Bengaluru and who wanted to know what investments India will make for their businesses to grow.
Prompted by Zuckerberg to talk about his experience of being an early adopter of internet in India, Modi said: “I did not have the privilege to become a very educated person growing up. My world could revolve around a few words.
“But social media has filled the gap for me,” he said.
Asked by Zuckerberg about the role of Modi’s mother behind his success, the prime minister was moved to tears as he talked about his mother’s struggles while raising him.
“There are lakhs of mothers like her in the world,” he said.
“I would like to congratulate the parents of Mark, who have given the world a person that he has become,” he said.
He then prompted Zuckerberg’s parents, present in the crowd, to stand up for the people to see them.
Taking a dig at the social media restrictions in China, Modi said to the cheers of the tech savvy crowd: “The internet services are different in China.”
“As you must know. But I am the same even in China. I wished their leader, a happy birthday on social media.”
For those who are rating the prime minister’s speech, he said.
“While I am talking here, there must be people discussing, ‘Is Narendra Modi doing good or not, saying the right things or not’.”
Zuckerberg said India was personally very important to the history of Facebook.
“Early on, before things were going well, we saw Steve Jobs,” he said referring to the legendary chief executive of Apple Inc.
Modi also sought to tell Zuckerberg that India had other things to offer as well.
“When you came to India, you went to a temple. And look where you have reached today,” he said.
Facebook had received more than 40,000 questions ranging from internet expansion in India to unemployment and Modi’s human rights record.