Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the first day of his US visit on Sunday met the CEOs of top 20 American firms, including Tim Cook of Apple, Sathya Nadella of Microsoft and Sunder Pichai of Google, and interacted wih them before highlighting his government’s reforms to make India a destination for ‘Doing Business’.
In a tweet, Modi said, “Interacted with top CEOs. We held extensive discussions on opportunities in India.” The 90-minute meeting focused on areas like manufacturing, trade, commerce, and people-to-people contact, young population in India and a rising middle-class.
“The whole world is looking at India. 7,000 reforms alone by GOI for ease of (doing) business and minimum government, maximum governance,” said the PM, according to Gopal Bagley, spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs.
The highlight of Modi’s interaction was on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which he termed as a complex task and its implementation may soon be “a subject of studies in US business schools… This shows India can take big decisions and implement them swiftly,” he said.
On bilateral interests, he said, “If America becomes stronger, India will be a natural beneficiary,” which clearly indicates a changed tone in Indian diplomacy hinting at adjusting with changed US global priorities under US President Donald Trump.
Prior to the interaction at the Willard Hotel, where he is staying, Modi had a photo-shoot with CEOs and elicited their views unofficially. He assured them that India under his government would follow ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’ principle for greater efficiency, transparency, growth and benefit for all.
“In concluding remarks, PM stresses importance of cooperation for start ups, innovation and tapping huge intellectual, education and vocational training potential in India,” Baglay tweeted.
The CEOs were positive to Modi’s agenda and expressed their willingness to be partners in skill development and education initiatives in India, which many of them have already undertaken as part of their corporate social responsibility.
Pichai told reporters after the meeting that the US companies are looking forward to the roll out of the GST. Tim Cook said the meeting outcome was “Good.” However, the contentious H1B visa issue was not discussed with them as it was a government policy.
The US-India Business Council (USIBC) president Mukesh Aghi said the CEOs praised the reforms but the H-1B visa issue was not discussed at the meeting. Other CEOs present included Shantanu Narayen from Adobe, Ajay Banga from Mastercard, David Farr from Emerson, Doug McMillon from Walmart, and Punit Renjen from Deloitte Global, Jim Umpleby from Caterpillar, Alex Gorsky from Johnson and Johnson, Jamie Dimon from J P Morgan Chase, and Marillyn Hewson from Lockheed Martin.
USIBC president Aghi said, “Today, as we witness a paradigm shift in the erstwhile global order, an opportunity has emerged for both countries to set new standards in bilateral ties that will be bound by their shared values.”