Modi outlines reforms, governance as priorities

New York, Sep 25 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi capped off a day of economic diplomacy with a dinner for 42 business leaders of the “$4.5 trillion club”, showing off the achievements of his 15 months in office as he made pitches for investments in India.

Assuring the CEOs the economic reforms were on track and that prompt decision-making and transparency were his areas of priority, he said, “Reform in governance is my Number One priority. We are for simplified procedures, speedy decision-making, transparency and accountability.”

The CEOs at the dinner arranged by Fortune magazine came from top-tier US companies, and toting up their value external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup dubbed it the “$4.5 trillion club”.

The top executives at the dinner table included Indra Nooyi of Pepsico, Ginni Rometty of IBM, Sanjay Mehrotra of San Disk, Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical, Marc Allen of Boeing International, Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin, Mark Fields of Ford, Ajay Banga of MasterCard, Michael O’Neill of Citigroup, Gary Cohn of Goldman Sachs, Hamilton James of Blackstone, Dinesh Palatal of Harman International, and Joe Ripp of Time Inc.

Modi distributed a one-page summary of his record in office, which highlighted the reforms undertaken so far for ease of doing business, bankruptcies and opening more sectors to foreign direct investment.

It also listed the 40 percent increase in foreign direct investments to India, while in the rest of the world it has fallen by 10 percent.

India’s Ambassador to the US, Arun Singh, said that the CEOs commented that what had been done by Modi was wrongly assessed and presented negatively in the media.

“The general mood was, ‘Continue what you are doing, do it faster,” Swarup said.

At a roundtable with top leaders from media and media venture capital, Modi told them that technology was leading to democratisation of knowledge and spoke of how the mdia can be partners in development, Swarup said.

Modi asked them to develop programming in regional languages, suggesting their potential as investment venues.

He also asked them to help in setting up universities or chairs in communication studies.

The meeting was convened by Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of News Corp. and 21st Century Fox, and high-level executives came from News Corp, 21st Century Fox, Star TV Sony, Discovery, Time Warner, A&E and VICE Media. Swarup said that James Murdoch, the CEO of 21st Century Fox, said that the executives there represented 40 percent of the global media industry.

Swarup said the executives considered India the biggest market for them. They asked for speedier digitisation and 4G rollout.

In separate sessions, Modi with Banga, Hewson and Aecom chief executive Mike Burke to discuss investments in India.

After his meeting, Banga told reporters, “Every time I meet him he asks, ‘What can I do better?’.”

Lockheed Martin is making plane parts at a factory set up with the Tatas in Hyderabad and Modi pushed for more manufacturing in India.

Aecom is involved in developing Vizag into smart city.

Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and now the head of the financial and news media company that bears his name and philanthropist discussed with Modi health issues like cancer prevention, sustainable development and smart cities, Swarup said.

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