NEW DELHI: Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has a penchant for foreign trips (after all, someone has to seal the deals that bring the billions in foreign investment into India) said that “ Building I-ways are as important as highways” whilst mingling with top tech CEO at Silicon Valley.

"I see technology as a means to empower and a tool that bridges the distance between hope and opportunity. Social media is reducing social barriers," PM Modi told the gathering of Silicon Valley CEOs. "As our economy and our lives get more wired, we are also giving the highest importance to data privacy and security, intellectual property rights and cyber security," he said. “We will transform governance, making it more transparent, accountable, accessible and participative," the PM added, promising that e-governance will be the foundation of better governance.

The Tech honchos were impressed. Mark Zuckerberg had already changed his profile picture to one embossed with the colours of the Indian flag. “I changed my profile picture to support Digital India, the Indian government's effort to connect rural communities to the internet and give people access to more services online,” Zuckerberg wrote. PM Modi responded by changing his own photo, "Thanks Mark Zuckerberg for the support. I changed my DP in support of the efforts towards a Digital India," the Indian PM posted.

Tech giant Google announced its support for digital India. Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Monday announced a proposal for introduction of broadband connectivity, through Wi-Fi hotspots, at 100 railway stations - to be expanded to 400 next year.

The Indian media is pleased. What a successful visit! As I write this, a good one-third (probably the 33 percent that voted for PM Modi) have changed their profile photos on Facebook in support of digital India.

I support this move toward greater connectivity in India (I mean c’mon, my cellphone carrier still hasn’t rolled out 4G). My reservation, however, is related to using this initiative to once again put forth a convoluted form of patriotism. The kind of patriotism that is shouted about on social media - through profile photo changes and “glory glory India is so great” accompanying posts. “Well done PM Modi - you make us see the world in a tricoloured hue” *rolls eyes.*

Before you lash out at me - ask yourself the question: Who does a digital India even benefit?

About 15 percent of Indians have internet access (on their phone or elsewhere). The majority of Indians are currently battling a dengue crisis, worrying where their next meal will come from, and are being sexually harassed (or even killed) because of lack of sanitation and the need to defecate in the open.

The majority of Indians are not concerned with wifi at railway stations, but jobs, food security, education, gender parity and healthcare.

And while PM Modi is lauded for being a great leader, with my friends rushing to join him and Zuckerberg in changing their profile photos on Facebook -- I am reminded of the fact that I live in India that has seen a 2 percent cut in education and spends only 1 percent of its GDP on public health; an India where about 30 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line (which by the way is a measly Rs. 32 per day in villages and Rs. 47 in cities), and where violence against women is on the upswing.

So while I’m all for a digital India, it isn’t going to be what makes me change my profile photo in support and scream and shout in jubilation. When we see a marked improvement in even some of the above social and economic indicators, I’ll be at the front of the pro-government bandwagon.