Modi pitches for job-creating investment in meeting with CEOs

29 Sep 2014


Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a five-day visit to the United States, told CEOs of 11 American companies at a breakfast meeting in New York this morning that infrastructure development offered a big opportunity for both the US companies and India.

IBM chairman Ginni Rometty meets Narendra Modi"Infrastructure development is a big opportunity; it creates jobs and enhances quality of life of our citizens," the prime minister told the CEOs.

He also told them that India wanted change that is not one sided and that he would talk to investors about how to achieve it.

The 11 CEOs that Modi met over breakfast this morning included Google's Eric Schmidt PepsiCo's Indira Nooyi, Boeing's W James (Jim) McNerney Jr, Black Rock's Laurence D Fink, IBM's Ginni Rometty, General Electric's Jeffrey R Immelt, Goldman Sachs's Lloyd Blankfein, and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co's Henry Kravis, among others.

Modi also held one-on-one meetings of 15 to 20 minutes each with the CEOs.

The prime minister is reported to have told the CEOs that his first priority was to create jobs and improve living conditions of the people.

Speaking to NDTV, Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga said, Modi has promised to do that through transparency and consistency in policy.

GE's Jeffrey Immelt told the channel that the prime minister had promised to address all their concerns. "The PM listened to everyone's concerns and said he would address them," Immelt said.

"The PM likes to get things done and so do we," he added.

Modi's emphasis all through was on investments in infrastructure and manufacturing that would both create employment and help increase the share of manufacturing in the economy.

The prime minister also hinted at involving overseas investors in the retendering of the 214 coal blocks whose allocations were cancelled by the Supreme Court last week. The apex court had ruled that over the past two decades the government had made coal block allocations in an "ad-hoc and casual" manner, which affected public interest.

"We want to convert the Supreme Court judgement on coal allocation into an opportunity to move forward and clean up the past."

The coal blocks are now free to be auctioned or allotted again and private equity firms might be looking to invest in coal mines in India.

While infrastructure is seen as the prime mover of investment, the prime minister also pitched for big investment in the manufacturing sector, which is the biggest job creator.

The Modi government has vowed to increase the share of the manufacturing sector to 25 per cent of the country's GDP from 15 per cent currently. For this, the sector needs to grow at 10 per cent annually.

The Prime Minister at a breakfast meeting with CEOs, in New York

New opportunities for partnership have emerged in aerospace and defence, and Boeing is expected to expand its India operations. Boeing opened the Boeing Research and Technology centre in Bangalore to advance aerospace innovation. In June 2011, the defence ministry signed an agreement with the US government to acquire 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III airlifters.

In addition, Boeing has developed important relationships with suppliers in India and is actively pursuing technical and business partnerships with Indian companies and institutions.

Boeing established a wholly owned Indian subsidiary, Boeing International Corporation India Private Limited (BICIPL), in 2003 to support the growing demands of India's aerospace industry.

Boeing also has an office in Bangalore and field service offices in Mumbai and New Delhi. In 2008, Boeing subsidiary Aviall established its presence in India and has opened India's first aircraft parts distribution center in Noida near New Delhi. Another Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen, a provider of flight navigation solutions, has established its presence in Hyderabad. Two other Boeing subsidiaries, Narus and CDG, are expanding in the country.

Hours before he left for the US last week, Prime Minister Modi launched the ambitious "Make in India" campaign, where he promised red carpet treatment for investors minus the red tape that has come to be associated with doing business in India.

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