In its bid to attract capital, the Make in India campaign, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project, was pitched aggressively to the CEOs of US businesses who had lined up to meet the Indian leader in New York. The meeting between Mr Modi and the head of defence manufacturing giant Lockheed Martin was among the important meetings. The latter’s interest to be a part of the Make in India campaign to bolster manufacturing in India gained momentum. Lockheed Martin is looking to set up a project management office in India.
Pitching the Make in India campaign, the financial sector roundtable was held between Mr Modi and the biggest names in Wall Street such as Jamie Dimon, CEO and president of JP Morgan, 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. Making it clear, Mr Modi spoke about the reforms taking place in India and told the investment community that the massive scale of India’s development ambitions held forth the best opportunity for them in the world.
There was an elaboration on the development targets such as building metro rails in 50 cities, complete rural electrification and housing for all. These are some of the initiatives that would provide attractive investment opportunities, Mr Modi said.
On expected lines, the financial sector investors raised concerns about red tape, slow pace of deregulation and unpredictable tax regimes, as their main concerns. Mr Modi assured investors that their concerns will be addressed and bottlenecks removed. He outlined efforts made during the last 15 months to increase investment in key areas like infrastructure.
He also held meetings with US India Business Council Chairman Ajay Banga, before the big meeting with the USD 4.5 trillion club of CEOs where he pitched the India growth story effectively. Giving confidence to the investors Mr Modi said, “all over the world FDI has fallen, but in India it increased by 40 per cent. This reflects confidence in the Indian economy. Reform in governance is my number 1 priority. We are for simplified procedures, speedy decision making, transparency and accountability.”
The CEO delegation reacted positively to the meeting with Mr Modi. “We will want many changes not only in India, but here in the US and in the entire world. But the general sense is that the government of India is taking earnest measures to improve the ease of doing business.” Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International Inc said the “direction of changes in India was encouraging, but the changes could be faster.” A recent slew of reforms such as waiving the Minimum Alternate Tax on foreign investors were major steps taken by the Modi government to welcome more investors.
In the meeting with the media CEOs, the contentious issue of intellectual property rights (IPR) was discussed. This is one of the major issues where India and the US have differences and the US has been insisting on India coming out with a clear IPR policy. “We are committed to protecting IPR, that’s essential to fostering creativity. This is a technology driven era and we are a technology driven society,” Mr Modi said.
Praising Mr Modi as the best Indian leader since independence, the media mogul Rupert Murdoch said, “great hour with Indian PM Modi. Best leader with best policies since independence, but massive task to achieve in most complex nation.”
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