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For Make in India, it’s Talk to America

Modi’s 35 MEETINGS: One-on-one with Boeing, GE, IBM, Goldman Sachs, KKR, BlackRock heads.

By: Express News Service Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: September 24, 2014 1:17:09 am
modi-L The PM will also attend a reception hosted by the US-India Business Council. (Source: PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has handpicked six top American CEOs — some of whom have been critical of India in the past — for separate one-on-one meetings, in addition to a breakfast interaction with 11 other corporate heads.

Of the six CEOs, Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd C Blankfein and General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt have in the past expressed their frustration over the retrospective tax legislation and bureaucratic wrangles. The other CEOs who Modi will meet exclusively are Boeing Chairman and CEO W James McNerney Jr, BlackRock Chairman and CEO Laurence D Fink, and IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty. The head of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) is also expected to meet him.

Modi’s US visit, from September 26-30, is scheduled a day after he launches his ‘Make in India’ campaign here on Thursday. The campaign, to be launched at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi with cabinet ministers, secretaries and Indian CEOs in attendance, will also be aired across Indian embassies and high commissions abroad.

The breakfast meeting on September 29 is expected to be attended by Google Executive Chairman Eric E Schmidt, Carlyle Group Co-Founder and Co-CEO David M Rubenstein, Cargill President and CEO David W MacLennan, Merck & Co CEO Kenneth C Frazier, Hospira Chairman John C Staley, Citigroup CEO Michael L Corbat, Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Dough Oberhelman, MasterCard President and CEO Ajay Banga, and Pepsico Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi among others. Modi is scheduled to meet the other six CEOs individually on the same day.

The PM will also attend a reception hosted by the US-India Business Council on September 30, at which about 300 members of the business community are expected to be present. Sources said these engagements will be a follow-up to his ‘Make-in-India’ programme.

At his meetings with US President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel on September 29-30, Modi will raise the issue of increased trade and investment between the two countries. India will focus on issues of defence, maritime security, science and technology, and areas of cooperation in third countries. The PM is also slated to meet US Speaker John Boehner and leaders from both sides of the aisle.

Apart from these, his meeting with former US President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton is significant, with the latter being considered a possible presidential candidate. MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin pointed out that the PM is “forward-looking”, adding, “if you understand the drift” — seeming to hint at Hillary’s future plans.

A total of 35 engagements have been planned during Modi’s stay in New York and Washington DC. On September 27,  Modi is scheduled to visit the 9/11 memorial in New York, after which he is set to go to the United Nations headquarters to address the 69th annual session of the UN General Assembly, where he will meet UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon.

The next day is dedicated to the Indian diaspora. Modi is scheduled to address about 20,000 Indian-Americans at the Madison Square garden, an event which will be watched live by several thousand people at the iconic Times Square. Ahead of his main summit at the White House on September 30, Modi will visit the Martin Luther King Memorial and Lincoln Memorial in Washington and pay floral tribute to Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in front of the Indian Embassy.

He will also interact with leading US foreign policy opinion-makers at the Council on Foreign Relations, a top American think-tank. In his meetings with leaders like American business magnate and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the focus will be on their experience in building smart cities.

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