Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his US visit on a high note on Wednesday, eliciting endorsements for Brand India from captains of the American industry and thinkers alike. The PM’s three-day American sojourn commenced with a yoga session at the United Nations headquarters and the promise of mega investment by Tesla chief Elon Musk.

The eyeball-grabbing meeting between Modi and Musk on Tuesday (EST Time) was followed by the External Affairs Ministry divulging that the PM had invited the Tesla chief to explore opportunities in India for investments in electric mobility and the rapidly expanding commercial space sector.

‘Significant investment’

“Great meeting you, Elon Musk. We had multifaceted conversations on issues ranging from energy to spirituality,” Modi tweeted after the meeting. Musk replied in similar vein, “It was an honor to meet again. Great conversation with @NarendraModi.” Calling himself “a fan” of Modi, he said the PM “really cares about India because he is pursuing us to make a significant investment in India.”

Musk followed it up with a commitment about investments in India. “I am confident that Tesla will be in India and we will do so as soon as humanly possible... We don’t want to jump the gun on an announcement, but I think it’s quite likely that it will be a significant investment, a relationship with India,” he said.

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Musk, who has been scouting for the location of Tesla’s next factory and is reportedly considering France, South Korea and Indonesia as possible destinations, said India has strong potential for sustainable energy including solar power, stationary battery packs and electric vehicles.

‘Great potential’

PM’s next visitor, noted investor and analyst Ray Dallio, said Modi “is a man whose time has come when India’s time has come”. Commendations followed from essayist and mathematical statistician, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who after meeting with Modi said, “I commended India for its response to Covid and how India has very efficiently dealt with it. Discussed risk-taking and anti-fragility with PM.”

The PM also met popular astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson, who said, “I was delighted to spend time with the leader, who is scientifically thoughtful. Priorities might be out of balance for many world leaders but Prime Minister Modi cares for many things including solutions... I am not alone when I say that the potential of what India can accomplish knows no limit.”

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Modi also mingled with several leading US think-tanks in New York, including Michael Froman, President-designate and Distinguished Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR); Daniel Russel, Vice President for International Security and Diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute; Max Abrahms, Associate Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University; Jeff M Smith, Director, Asian Studies Center, The Heritage Foundation; Elbridge Colby, co-founder of ‘The Marathon Initiative’; and Guru Sowle, founder-member, Director (Indo-US Affairs), Indus International Research Foundation.

“The Prime Minister and the experts discussed a range of developmental and geopolitical issues,” an External Affairs Ministry statement said.