Prime Minister of India to Join Zuckerberg’s Next Town Hall

Mark-Zuck-and-Narendra-ModiMark Zuckerberg has been holding town-hall style Q&A sessions for a while now, but his next one, due on 27 September, will be a little different, as he’ll be holding it alongside Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Q&A will form part of Modi’s visit to Facebook’s head offices later this month, and he and Zuckerberg will be discussing how communities can work together to address social and economic challenges, as well as answering questions from the audience.

Modi has pushed heavily to grow India’s technology industry while in office, launching initiatives like a Digital Week and a campaign to provide internet connects to 250,000 villages. He has been called India’s first ‘cyber premier’, having used social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch with Indian citizens, and has met Zuckerberg before when the Facebook CEO visited India last year.

Zuckerberg has hosted meetings with world leaders before, with US presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama both having connected with the public through Facebook Q&As, but this is perhaps the most important one yet.

India has been one of the prime focuses of Facebook’s initiative that aims to connect the next billion people to the Internet using a Facebook-run portal that offers free access to certain services.

While both Zuckerberg and Modi have spoken about the transformative power the Internet can have, economically and social, has faced criticisms from net neutrality proponents, as Facebook retains control over what users can access.

Whether such topics will come up during the Q&A remains to be seen – a huge variety of questions have already been submitted, covering everything from agriculture to India’s caste system – but the meeting will surely be a fascinating glimpse into India’s digital future, and how Facebook may play a role in shaping it.