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India PM Modi makes rock star appearance at Facebook
[MENLO PARK] Standing side-by-side with Mark Zuckerberg, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a rock star appearance at Facebook on Sunday, advocating for the political power of social media.
An invitation-only audience jumped to its feet, cheering and snapping photos as Mr Modi strode into a sun-splashed courtyard with Mr Zuckerberg - sporting a jacket and tie for the occasion, in a sartorial about-face for the typically casual campus.
"To leaders all over the world; you are not going to gain by running away from social media," said the tech-savvy premier during a town hall-style question and answer session.
"The strength of social media today is that it can tell governments where they are going wrong and give them an opportunity to do a course correction." "You will gain from joining it. You need real time information," said the 65-year-old Modi, who has 30 million fans on Facebook and tweets multiple times a day.
Mr Modi used the session, which lasted almost an hour and was streamed online, to promote his Digital India drive and promote the country as a place worthy of tourists, investments, and entrepreneurs with visions of disruptive technology start-ups.
Mr Zuckerberg opened by telling of a time, about a decade ago, when Facebook was going through a "rough patch" and there were thoughts of selling the startup.
He said he visited one of his mentors, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who told him to visit a certain temple in India that he visited during Apple's early days.
"I went, and travelled for almost a month," Mr Zuckerberg recounted. "Seeing the people and how people connected, reinforced what we were doing and is something I've always remembered."
Mr Modi's stop at Facebook was part of a tour of Silicon Valley. It is the first time since 1982 that a prime minister of India has visited the West Coast of the United States.
Mr Modi left Facebook to visit Google's main campus in nearby Mountain View. He was later to star at an event attended by some 18,000 people in a convention center in the city of San Jose in Silicon Valley.