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How Modi’s Visit to Facebook Could Help Reverse India’s Brain Drain

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, shakes hands with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a meeting in New Delhi, India, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Press Trust of India) INDIA OUT

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes to the U.S. in a couple days, he won’t just make the obligatory stops at the White House and the United Nations. The most important destination on his itinerary is his visit to Facebook Headquarters, out in Silicon Valley. There has long been a strong co-dependency between Indian immigrant entrepreneurs and engineers and Silicon Valley; and, increasingly, between Silicon Valley’s global growth prospects and the massive Indian market.3-1It’s no wonder Mark Zuckerberg is rolling out the red carpet for the Indian head of state. An intriguing question is what Modi hopes to get out of the visit, and a one-word answer comes to mind: talent. We’re all familiar with the big wave of engineers and information technology graduates that flowed from India to the U.S. over the past few decades and its role in the Silicon Valley boom. The U.S. tech sector’s related outsourcing trend conversely created many IT-related jobs in India, transforming the economies of cities such as Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune.3-3But to date, the bulk of that activity has been focused on satisfying the demand for products and services in America and other developed economies, thus limiting its impact within India. Now the time is ripe for a second wave, a wave in the opposite direction. This time, the demand for innovation and technology products is in India, and the top talent needed to make it happen is in Silicon Valley and other American tech hubs.

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