Modi’s US Visit: Financial and Technological concerns to the Fore

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with officials of top Financial institutions before a meeting with them in New York on Thursday, September 24
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with officials of top Financial institutions before a meeting with them in New York on Thursday, September 24

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign in the U.S. to attract investment in  the country and boost his ‘Make in India’ initiative kicked off with a meeting with eight influential figures in the key financial hub of the world on Thursday, September 24.

Organized  by Jamie Dimon, CEO and president of JP Morgan, the participants at the roundtable  included Blackstone’s Steve Schwarzman, Warburg Pincus’ Charles Kaye, KKR Co-CEO Henry Kravis, General Atlantic CEO Bill Ford, AIG Insurance CEO Peter Hancock, Tiger Global Managing Partner Chase Coleman, and NY State Common Retirement Fund’s Vicki Fuller. “They control billions of dollars of investment and the opportunity to interact directly with the Prime Minister has given them further confidence in India,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said after the meeting.

Mr. Swarup said the Prime Minister took on board the concerns raised by the investors and promised speedy resolution to them. “The PM told the investment community that the massive scale of India’s development ambitions held forth the best opportunity for them in the world,” Mr. Swarup said, adding that Mr. Modi mentioned development targets such as building metro rails in 50 cities, complete rural electrification and housing for all among initiatives that would provide attractive investment opportunities.

Financial sector leaders flagged red tape, slow pace of deregulation, and unpredictable tax regimes, as their main concerns.

A senior executive of one of the firms, who has been involved with similar meetings with earlier prime ministers also, said, “The difference that we see is that Mr. Modi not merely understands the issues, but responds when they are raised and promises action. That is reassuring.” Mr. Swarup said all the leaders were bullish about India and “appreciated the PM’s bold measures in improving the ease of doing business and the fact that financial sector reforms have now begun.”

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Continuing with the same pitch, Mr. Modi is scheduled to host a dinner for Fortune 500 companies and interact in a roundtable format with 15 leaders of the media industry, assembled by NewsCorp head Rupert Murdoch. Mr. Modi also has a separate meeting with Marillyn A Hewson, CEO of U.S. defense manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corporation, even as both countries are hoping to enhance bilateral cooperation in the sector. While the CEO dinner will again be focused on the Indian manufacturing sector, the media sector interaction would focus on using communication technologies to assist India’s developmental initiatives. On September 26 and 27, the PM will travel to the Silicon Valley, the hub of the global technology industry, with a special emphasis on promoting a start-up culture in India.

Mr. Modi will meet Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook individually and interact with many more in a group. He is also scheduled to visit Facebook and meet Mark Zuckerberg.

Earlier, on September 23, Modi was given  a warm reception on his arrival at the airport, A group of enthusiastic PM supporters  gathered outside Hotel Waldorf Astoria to welcome Modi and chanted lustily “Modi, Modi” when the Prime  Minister  arrived. A number of community leaders met him and had a photo op with him.

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