John Chambers, Chairman of Cisco Systems said of Prime Minister Modi, “you (PM Modi) are an amazing ambassador of your country....PM Modi will change the world. He has a global vision, he understands global trends.” Sundar Pichai CEO of Google said of Prime Minister Modi, “He has accelerated India to become the next hotbed of technology and innovation.”
Other CEOs said equally flattering things of the Prime Minister and of changes happening in India. By the end of his visit to the US, I wouldn’t be surprised if Prime Minister Modi would have met over a hundred corporate honchos, small and big businessmen and convinced most of them that India is where they should put their money.
Over the weekend there were bosses of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco, Tesla, successful start-ups and several others meeting with the PM. And in New York before that, scores of bankers, tech company CEOs, Media moguls. You name them and they were there. In their sharp cut suits, patent leather shoes, they shook hands, exchanged a few sentences and came back with positive vibes from the Prime Minister. Every sound bite given to Indian TV reporters was of confidence in the Indian economy’s future. If they had reservations and apprehensions then those were expressed behind closed doors with Mr Modi. Apparently the CEOs had mainly one thing to say to Mr Modi: whatever you are doing, just do it faster.
Which shouldn’t be a problem. Modi has for long been called ‘A man in a hurry’. Earlier of course it was said pejoratively that he was crushing competition from within his party to be nominated its PM candidate. And then it was said of him when he was dealing with slacking bureaucrats. That he had no patience with long winding presentations made by secretaries to government of India who laboriously explained procedures rather than doables. He is a man who wants to undo a lot which he thinks has dragged the India-story instead of propelling it to be a regional leader.
CEOs from east to west coast have pledged to be part of several programmes that are PM Modi’s pet projects from Make in India to Digital India. From design labs to manufacturing hubs that will move to India, growth and jobs are being pledged across the board. PM Modi has marketed India like nobody before him. He has been able to convince businessmen that he is completely invested in making second-generation reforms in India a reality. There is no hesitation now in the US that India is headed in the right direction. Yes, there is a mild irritation about the slow pace in which it is happening but there is no skepticism that India is set for great things.
“India is the fastest growing start-up nation in the world,” said Sundar Pichai. And this has not happened in just the past 15 months since the BJP won the election. This has been happening for some years but somehow nobody has marketed India with as much gusto as Narendra Modi.
He takes complete ownership of government progra- mmes. Modi’s speeches are littered with I have done this and I have done that when it comes to describing government programmes. He knows that he is criticised a lot for using the word ‘mai’ ie I instead of ‘Hum’ which is ‘us’ or ‘we’. If he is taking credit, he is well aware that if these programmes collapse tomorrow, the blame will be laid at his doorstep. From Indians to foreign CEOs who are invested in the vision he has promised them action. Everyone will blame him and him alone if things don’t happen fast. Nobody will forgive him if the era of tax terrorism and policy paralysis returns. If he has marketed the product so well, it falls totally upon him to make sure the product lives up to the standard of the advertising.
Modi, the marketing magician has promised to the world “We have the talent, enterprise and expertise.” And while he was doing all this in the west and east coast of America, the Chinese President was doing the same in his own unique way, leading many columnists to draw parallels in their styles and substance. The remarkable thing is that India and China are being compared about the levels and spheres of their respective influence. It’s no longer India and Pakistan. And that in itself is a significant deliverable that the Nation’s top salesman has already delivered.
Smita Prakash is Editor, News at Asian News International. You can follow her on Twitter @smitaprakash