Economy

Governance reform is my top priority, Modi tells CEOs in US

Thomas K Thomas San Francisco | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on September 25, 2015

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets media tycoon Michael Bloomberg during a meeting in New York on Thursday. PTI

Upbeat mood: Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets media tycoon Michael Bloomberg during a meeting in New York on Thursday PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with PepsiCo's Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi during a meeting in New York on Thursday. PTI

Corporate honchos want reforms process to be speeded up

A day after Chinese President Xi Jinping met US corporate honchos, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met nearly 45 Chief Executive Officers of large multinational corporations in New York to hard-sell India as an investment destination.

Modi will take his campaign a step ahead when he meets heavy hitters of the tech world, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai of Google, in Silicon Valley over the weekend.

“Reform in governance is my No. 1 priority. We are for simplified procedures, speedy decision-making, transparency and accountability,” Modi told over 45 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies over a dinner in New York.

The attendees included Lockheed Martin Chairperson and CEO Marillyn Hewson, Ford President and CEO Mark Fields, IBM Chairperson Ginni Rometty, PepsiCo Chief Indra Nooyi, and Dow Chemical Chairman Andrew Liveris.

Among the chief executives of the financial world were Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan, Steve Schwarzman of Blackstone, Charles Kaye of Warburg Pincus, Henry Kravis of KKR and Chase Coleman of Tiger Global

“By and large the mood was very upbeat. There is general consensus that the Prime Minister is effecting change in India. The only thing all the CEOs said is that “please make that change faster,” said a top ranking Indian diplomat after the meetings.

Modi is seeking investments from global players into some of the key projects initiated by him, including Digital India, ‘Make in India’ and 100 Smart Cities. Over the weekend he will meet the tech world honchos, many of whom are India-born. 

Silicon Valley leg

On Sunday, Modi will attend a town hall meeting at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, after which he will head to Mountain View to meet Google’s leadership team. Modi said on his Twitter account that his visit “will focus on start-ups, innovation and technology, and how to further support them in India”.

He will also attend an event in San Jose, where more than 30 start-ups from India and the US will showcase their work.

The tech companies, on their part, are expected to use the opportunity to convey their concerns over some of the issues dogging their operations in India. Facebook, for example, is facing uncertainty over its Internet.org initiative amid concerns over possible violation of Net neutrality. Google, on the other hand, is facing possible action by the Competition Commission of India over alleged anti-competitive practices.        

The Modi visit is getting some attention from the US media. While the Wall Street Journal had a story titled ‘Silicon Valley woos Narendra Modi’, Reuters had a piece ‘Modi offers Silicon Valley the welcome Xi won’t’.

There is also drama on the sidelines with a US-based Sikh rights group filing a lawsuit in a court in California seeking to block the public address by Modi in Silicon Valley on September 27. Meanwhile, a protest rally organised by the Patel community fizzled out after a section decided to call off the stir.

Published on September 25, 2015
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