New Delhi: Just after a month of hosting Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Facebook headquarters in California in September, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook will be visiting India on October 28. This was announced by Zuckerberg through a Facebook post on Friday.
“I’ll be answering questions from across Facebook as well as from a live audience at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi,” he said in the post. This will be Zuckerberg’s second India visit after Modi became the prime minister. “India is personally very important to the history of our company,” Zuckerberg had told at Facebook’s headquarters in California last month.
The story goes that Apple founder Steve Jobs himself had recommended Zuckerberg to visit a temple in India “in order to reconnect with what I believed was the mission of the company” when the latter was considering whether or not to sell the social-media company.
One of the key topics that was discussed during Modi’s visit was internet access for all. Zuckerberg, who vouches for universal internet access as a basic human right, had also tried to woo the Indian prime minister by voicing support for the Digital India campaign days ahead of Modi’s visit.
India is a key target for Facebook’s Free Basics initiative. Earlier known as internet.org, it is an open platform by Facebook across 19 developing countries, including India, it tries to enable easy access of selected apps and app-based services to people at zero cost. In India, it had partnered with Reliance Communications to offer free access to about 30 websites. However, the selective approach of internet.org had invited criticisms from various quarters in India.
To counter this, Facebook had on September 26 announced significant changes to the initiative and rebranded it as Free Basics. The platform was opened up for any app developer who could now include their services on it.
India is a key market for Facebook. It has more than 130 million users in India. Moreover, of the 5,000 app developers on its app developing platform FbStart, about 1,000 are from Asia Pacific area and 40 per cent are from India. India is its largest app developer community from outside of US. More than 75 per cent of top-grossing apps in India are integrated with Facebook.