The Prime Minister of India is visiting the Bay Area this weekend. It’s the first time in three decades the country’s leader will visit California.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in San Jose Saturday evening. Over the weekend, he met with CEOs from Facebook, Tesla and Google before flying out to meet President Obama on Monday.
There will also be a special event for him on Sunday at the SAP Center. The event is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to hear Modi speak. Over 45,000 people applied for the free tickets but the arena can only seat 18,000. Organizers are setting up a video screen outside the for the overflow crowd.
Sudhir Wadhwa, president of the Silicon Valley Indian Professional Association said he’s looking forward to hear more on Modi’s “Digital India” plan.
“It’s a two way bridge,” Wadhwa said. “We can help India and they can help us out. It’s about exchanging information.”
60 dancers, many of them being young students, from the Mona Khan Dance Company in Fremont are getting ready to perform a ten minute dance for Modi on Sunday.
Despite his popularity, Modi still faces strident criticism from some.
A group of more than 100 college professors and other academics across the U.S. have posted an open letter on the Internet warning people to beware of Modi's digital push. They say it could be a veiled attempt to enable the government to monitor private communications and suppress dissent.
"A lot of this is just very good public relations management,'' said Thomas Blom Hansen, a Stanford University anthropology professor who has been studying India for 25 years."All we are saying is,'Hang on, it's not as well as it looks.'"
Modi's government has raised privacy fears with a proposal that would have required Internet users to save unencrypted copies of their texts and posts on social networks, an idea that Wadhwa describes as a blunder conceived by lower-level bureaucrats in India.
Another group called Sikhs For Justice is offering $10,000 to anyone who confronts Modi with two questions about perceived threats to religious freedom in India during a town hall meeting scheduled Sunday morning at Facebook's Menlo Park, California, headquarters.
Gurpatwant Pannun with Sikhs for Justice will be among those outside the shark tank to protest. Pannum wants Americans to be aware of the human rights violations Modi is accused of, including forcible religious conversations.
“We do want American business to flourish but not at the cost of the religious freedom of minorities,” Pannum said.
Traffic in the South Bay is expected to be rough on Sunday since the Rock and Roll Half Marathon is also scheduled on that day in San Jose. There will also be heightened security on VTA light rails and buses.
In addition, runners will not be able to park at the SAP this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.