Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on a four-day tour to America, hosted a breakfast meeting for 11 CEOs including Google’s Eric Schmidt and PepsiCo’s Indira Nooyi. The breakfast meeting extended over an hour, and Modi pitched India as the best investment destination in Asia. The Indian Prime Minister later had one-on-one meetings with the CEOs of Boeing, KKR, BlackRock, IBM, General Electric and Goldman Sachs.
“The PM had an extremely constructive dialogue with every CEO in the room, listening intently, engaging them and responding to their specific concerns,” Mastercard CEO and president Ajay Banga, who was present at the breakfast meeting, told Economic Times. “The PM demonstrated his focus on building a roadmap to show he is serious about changing things and executing them,” Banga added.
Boeing CEO James McNerney told the PM that the plane maker wants to accelerate engagement with India. IBM’s Virgina Rometty discussed software for Modi’s smart city and Digital India initiatives. PepsiCo CEO Indira Nooyi said the US industry was “very happy” to be working with a PM who answers questions brilliantly and is focused on improving the country.
Rock Star Speech At Madison Square Garden
The Prime Minister’s meeting with CEOs was following the address to the 19,000-strong crowd of Indian-Americans at the Madison Square Garden in New York. Here are some of the key takeaways from Modi’s speech at MSG.
“Since taking over, I haven’t taken a 15-minute vacation”
Modi highlighted BJP’s landslide victory by saying that this was the first time in 30 years a Government had come to power at the centre with a clear majority. “Winning elections is not about any post or chair. It is a responsibility. Since taking over, I haven’t taken a 15-minute vacation. There is an atmosphere of hope and enthusiasm. India wants change.” He promised that the Government will be 100% successful in fulfilling the aspirations of the people.
“Democracy, demographic dividend and demand”
Modi said that India has three unique strengths – democracy, demographic dividend and demand – which will help the country soar in the coming years. “India is the world’s youngest nation with the most ancient culture. 65% of the population in India is under the age of 35,” he said. He called the 21st century as “Asia’s century”. He stressed on the work force power of India. “By 2020, only India will be in a position to provide work force to the world,” he added, citing examples of a global demand for nurses and teachers.
“Make in India”
Modi extended an invitation to global companies as well as the Indian diaspora in America to “Come, Make in India”. He said there is no better place in the world than India for human resources, effective governance and low-cost production. He promised to put an end to bureaucratic roadblocks in the country, echoing the ‘Make in India’ slogan – “Ease of business.”
“Big things for the little guy”
“People ask what is your vision, what is your big vision? I say bhai, I got here by way of selling tea. I am a simple man. I like focusing on simple and small tasks. I want to accomplish big things for the little guy. I have a dream in my mind. My dream is that in 2022, when India completes 75 years of independence, there shouldn’t be a single Indian family without a home,” Modi said.
“Make development a mass movement”
Modi struck a chord with the audience by bringing up Mahatma Gandhi in his speech. “Mahatma Gandhi made the freedom struggle a mass movement. Every Indian felt that yes, I am also a part of the freedom struggle. Governments alone cannot bring development. Governments can launch schemes. Let’s make development a mass movement,” he said, imploring people to get involved in the cause of the nation’s development.
“India’s mission to Mars cost Rs 7/per km”
“An autorickshaw ride in Ahmedabad costs Rs 10 per km. India’s mission to Mars cost Rs 7 per km,” Modi said. He praised the skills and talent of Indians that made the Mangalyaan mission a reality. He highlighted the indigenous strength of the nation, explaining how every part of the Mars Orbiter was manufactured in various small factories and industries in India.
“Lifelong visas for PIO card holders”
Modi ended his speech with parting gifts for the Indian Americans. He said, “PIO (Persons of Indian Origin) card holders have a lot of visa issues. We have decided that they will get lifelong visas. Those who stay in India for long have to go to police stations too. They won’t have to do that now.” He also announced that the PIO and OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) schemes would be merged soon. He also announced that American tourists could now visit India easily, thanks to electronic travel authorisation and visa-on-arrival for US citizens.