PARIS: The India Story is shining bright in France, Europe’s heavyweight economy, with top French CEOs of big-ticket corporates striking an upbeat note about pouring investments into Asia’s third largest economy and voicing their enthusiasm about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India mission.
With Mr Modi’s Europe agenda being primarily economic, fittingly around 50 top CEOs of India and France brainstormed in Paris to spur the flow of two-way of investment and outlined a concrete roadmap for imparting a fresh momentum to multifarious economic relationship between the two counties.
In his interaction with the French business community, Mr Modi, who began his four-day visit to France on April 9, is expected to make a robust pitch for more French investments in a wide array of areas, including in his pet project of smart cities. Mr Modi is expected to address two separate round tables on defence and infrastructure on April 10. The co-chairs of the Indo-French CEOs Forum are expected to submit reports to the leaders of India and France after their talks on April 10 at Palais de L’Elysées.
There were free and frank discussions on issues relating to investment and ease of doing business in India and France, Mr Dhruv M. Sawhney, co-chairman of Indo-French CEOs Forum and chairman & MD of Triveni Turbine Limited, told Indian journalists at Hotel Plaza Athenee in the heart of the elitist Champ Elysees.
The CEOs Forum culminated in the leaders of Indian and French business, setting up four task forces in areas of energy, water, infrastructure financing and life sciences.
French companies have not declared any amount they will be investing in India, but informed sources said that one can expect big investments in these areas in the days to come. Investments from France are currently estimated to be around $10 billion.
Going by the insider buzz at the CEOs forum, top French CEOs are enthusiastic about participating in Mr Modi’s Make in India mission, which they see as a huge business opportunity. “They are all for making in India,” said Mr Sawhney. “The spirit of the meeting was quite positive. In the last year since Mr Modi took charge, the perception of India has changed,” said Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, president, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), the country’s premier industry body.
Corporate titans who participated in the forum comprise a heft portion of the GDP of the two countries. Besides Mr Sawhney, Mr Anil Ambani, chairman of ADAG, Mr Shashi Ruia, chairman, Essar Group, Sanjay Kirloskar, chairman and MD, Kirloskar Brothers and Mr Hari Bhartia, MD, Jubilant Lifesciences Limited were among around 20-odd Indian business leaders who participated in the seventh edition of the Indo-French CEOs Forum.
Mr Paul Hermelin, French co-chair of Indo-French CEOs Forum and CEO, Capgemini, led his country’s business community’s drive to forge closer economic linkages with one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Capgemini employs around 56,000 Indians. The CEOs of leading French companies, including Dassault, Alstom, Saffran, Areva, Thales and Sodiall, were among those who participated in the business conclave.
(Manish Chand is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network, www.indiawrites.org, a global portal and e-magazine focused on international affairs and the India Story. He is in Paris to report on and analyse India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France)