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China And India Leaders In U.S. To Court Tech Giants

The leader of 1.3 billion people is now in the U.S. but has been largely ignored by the American media. No, I’m not referring to China’s President Xi Jinping, who received full state honors in the American capital on Friday. His visit, although overshadowed by the Pope’s, has been covered well.

I’m thinking of Narendra Modi. The Indian prime minister arrived in New York for wall-to-wall events on Thursday and Friday; met with the CEOs of America’s largest companies, including Indian-born Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo; and then flew to California for another packed two days. Modi is only the second Indian leader to visit the Golden State. Jawaharlal Nehru went to San Francisco in 1949.

Modi is also in the Bay Area, but the current prime minister is spending his time in Silicon Valley and points south instead. There, on Sunday, he speaks to a packed-to-the-rafters crowd at the 18,070-seat SAP Center in downtown San Jose as well as the 29,000 who couldn’t get tickets. The latter group will hear his words live-steamed to Arena Green Park, just across the street.

Yes, Modi is like a rock star, but his smaller events are also crucial to the future of his country. A day before the San Jose extravaganza, Modi hobnobbed with CEOs, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Google’s Sundar Pichai, and Shantanu Narayen of Adobe Systems, all born in India.

And when he wraps up his six-day trip to the U.S., Modi will have met with Tim Cook of Apple and visited the headquarters of Tesla and Facebook.

India is especially alluring to America’s tech companies. For one thing, New Delhi doesn’t block their entry. Facebook and Twitter, among others, are banned in China.

The only thing worse than being shut out of the world’s most populous country is being let in. Just ask Google, which had its source code filched and dominant market share stripped away by Beijing. Today, thanks to official help, home-grown Baidu had, a>