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Dream to make India $20 trillion economy: Modi

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Photo credit: travelbeats.indianeagle.com
source: timesofindia.com
source: timesofindia.com

San Jose: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said he dreamt of making India a $20 trillion economy and that he was pleasantly surprised by the change of perception about his country in a short period of time.

Attending a question and answer ‘town-hall’ session with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg at their office at Hackers Square here, the prime minister also said that a lot had to be done to bridge the digital divide in India.

“We are an $8 trillion economy today. My dream is for India to become a $20 trillion dollar economy,” Modi said, adding: “Amazing, how perception about India has changed in a very short time. We have brought in a new level of confidence.”

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, now deceased.

Modi also sought to tell Zuckerberg that India has 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.

The Facebook chief had announced the Indian prime minister’s visit on his page earlier this month and invited users to post questions. Tens of thousands of comments were made in reply, with questions on internet expansion in India, unemployment and also Modi’s human rights record.

“We’ve received more than 40,000 questions for this town-hall,” Zuckerberg said.

Typical to the US, a town hall meeting refers to an informal public event, open to all, where those who attend ask questions from invited guests, generally public figures or functionaries, and also give ideas and seek their grievances to be redressed.

Modi said that in the last one to one-and-half years, “the perception of India has changed a lot”.

“If you look at tourism for example, India has tremendous potential. Technology has really helped the industry and has brought the world together,” Modi said.

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.

“You are associated with the service sector, and I have seen the power of it,” Modi said.

Before the townhall began, Modi and Zuckerberg had a one-on-one meeting.

Patriotic songs like ‘Des Rangila Rangila’ and ‘Dhoom Machale’ from Bollywood films played in the hall.

The insights wall at the Facebook headquarters flashed about its ‘India Connection’.

Earlier, as Modi, dressed in a white shirt and black pants and a black Nehru jacket arrived for the townhall, he was greeted by Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

In the background, the music of ‘Chak De India’ played to welcome Modi and the gathered crowd chanted “Modi, Modi”.

At the usually very casual Facebook headquarters, Zuckerberg came dressed in a black suit and purple tie. There were many others also dressed in suits and ties.

Ahead of his interaction with Modi, Zuckerberg changed his profile picture to support ‘Digital India’. Within minutes, Modi too changed his picture to thank him.

I changed my profile picture to support Digital India, the Indian government’s effort to connect rural communities to the internet and give people access to more services online. Looking forward to discussing this with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Facebook today,” posted Zuckerberg on Facebook.

Within minutes, Modi also changed his profile picture to thank him.

Zuckerberg’s new picture shows his side profile overlaid with the saffron, white and green colours of the Indian flag.

Modi’s new picture shows his front with the colours of India similarly overlaid.

(IANS)

Next Story

India Ends all Imports of Iranian Oil, Says Washington Ambassador

Trump last year pulled out of a multinational pact under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear work in return for promises of sanctions relief

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india, iranian oil
FILE - A worker walks atop a tanker wagon to check the freight level at an oil terminal on the outskirts of Kolkata, India. VOA

India has ended all imports of oil from Iran, its ambassador in Washington says, becoming the latest country to grudgingly comply with threatened U.S. sanctions.

India had already sharply decreased its imports from Iran and bought one million tonnes of crude in April, the last month before Washington stepped up its pressure campaign against Tehran and ended all exemptions to sanctions, Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla said. “That’s it. After that, we haven’t imported any,” Shringla told reporters Thursday during a briefing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election victory.

No Venezuela oil, either

Shringla said that energy-hungry India has also ended all imports from Venezuela because it considered itself a partner of the United States. But he said the shift had caused pain at home, with Iran formerly supplying 10 percent of India’s oil needs.

Calling Iran “an extended neighbor” of India with long-standing cultural links, Shringla declined to say whether New Delhi shared President Donald Trump’s concerns about Tehran. “This is an issue that has to be dealt with, really, between the United States and Iran. We are only, in many senses, looking at it as a third party,” Shringla said.

But he added: “We would not like to see a move towards any escalation in any way in that area, for the simple reason that we depend very heavily on stability in that part of the world.”

iranian oil, india
FILE – U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after signing a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, May 8, 2018. VOA

Trump last year pulled out of a multinational pact under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear work in return for promises of sanctions relief.

The Trump administration has instead ramped up economic pressure on Iran and recently deployed military assets, including an aircraft carrier strike group, to the area.
The United States as of May 2 ended exemptions it had given to eight governments from its unilateral order to stop buying Iranian oil.

Turkey stops imports

Turkey, which enjoyed a waiver and vocally disagreed with the U.S. policy, has also stopped importing oil from Iran, a Turkish official said this week. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus welcomed the news from Turkey.

ALSO READ: India, China, Turkey Silently Purchasing Iran’s Crude Oil as US Ban Begins

“We want the whole world to comply with these sanctions, and we’re grateful for our partners and allies that are respecting them,” she told reporters. The Indian ambassador, however, voiced confidence that U.S. sanctions would not affect its partnership in developing Iran’s Chabahar port.

India wants to use the port to ship supplies into Afghanistan in a detour from its archrival Pakistan, which historically backed the Taliban. “I think it is in the interest of both our countries and all others concerned to ensure that that lifeline continues for the people of Afghanistan,” Shringla said. (VOA)