Modi’s Second Us Odyssey
The first visit to America of Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned out to be an introductory one, of the new man at the helm of the largest democracy in the world. And he seemed to be a charmer with the gift of the gab. His brilliant oratory skills showed that he was a resolute, pragmatic and capable of changing India. President Barack Obama found Modi knowledgeable, well-versed in world affairs and international issues. The President was amased to find Modi, despite his background, talking as an equal and that whenever he wanted something for India he would demand and not beg for. This showed his confidence.
For this new man from India Obama broke the protocol and conducted Modi personally on a tour of Martin Luther King Memorial and wrote jointly for Washington Post. The Diaspora saw in him a strong, decisive leader who will change India, they wanted and at the same time a Rockstar with magical attraction and they just cheered and cheered every two minutes during his address at the jam-packed Madison Square Auditorium. Many resolved to reconnect with India.
America saw in the new Prime Minister the best ever ambassador and salesman for his country. The second US visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was more substantive and meaningful. He needed no introduction. America had been floored by his flair and welcomed him with warmth. Modi was confident and comfortable in the environs. On arrival from Dublin, he started immediately with bilateral meetings, trying to convince world leaders to his views on issues of terrorism and climate change, in particular. Cyber security was another issue that Modi discussed with David Cameron, Barack Obama and Francois Hollande.
During his five-day visit he traveled to Silicon Valley where he met several CEOs including that of Google. He had a special outing with CEO of Facebook. For his ambitious programme Digitalisation of India he could secure promises and assurances for a few good deals. The US Press had prophesised that his Silicon Valley visit will overshadow his important engagements in New York. They were wrong, both got equal coverage. Modi personally said that his US visit “demonstrated the extraordinary depth and diversity of our relationship. “A lot of ground had been covered in three days.” In his fifth meeting with Obama within a year the discussion was on terrorism and co-operation in the areas of security, counter terrorism, defence and economy. In his address in the General Assembly he showed his confidence to point out the UN’s fault in tackling terrorism. He said that until now the UN has failed to define terrorism. “If defining it takes so long, how many years it will take tackle terrorism.”
Chastising further ridiculed the attempts by the US and other countries in the west to distinguish between a good and bad terrorist. Define it and fight it to save humanity. He also made a pointed statement that the UN must distinguish between countries which shield terrorists and those who are fighting them. Samajhnewale samajh gaye honge.
FDI in greenfield projects
INDIA SURPASSES US, CHINA
The FT data shows that India attracted FDI for greenfield investment, measured by estimated capital expenditure, worth $31 billion in the first half of 2015, ahead of $28 billion to China and $27 billion to theIndia has surpassed both the US and China in attracting foreign direct investment in greenfield projects, according to fDi Markets, a data service of Financial Times. The FT data shows that India attracted FDI for greenfield investment, measured by estimated capital expenditure, worth $31 billion in the first half of 2015, ahead of $28 billion to China and $27 billion to the US. According to FT, India has more than doubled its investment in the first half last year, attracting $30 bn by the end of June 2015 compared with $12 bn in the first half of the last year.
India was ranked fifth last year for capital investment, while increasing its number of projects by 47 per cent. In 2014, China received $75 billion FDI while the US and the UK received $51 billion and $35 billion respectively. As per the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), India attracted FDI equity inflows worth $19.39 billion during the January-June period, up 30 per cent year-on-year.
How Green Was Silicon Valley For Modi
The digital world’s bigwigs were kept applauding Modi at the end of his address to them. He was the first Indian PM to visit the Valley in more than three decades. They were taken aback by the tech-talk and his clarity on issues involved in digitalisation. The valley as Amulya Gopalkrishnan said that the valley is meritocratic, multi-cultural ideal. Many Dadas of the digital empires like Google (Wi-Fi at 500 stations), Microsoft (broadband in 5 lakh villages) and Qualcomm ($150 millions start-up fund) have already announced plans to invest in Digital India. He met 41 CEOs there. And earlier with Fortune 500 CEOs—a club worth $54.5 trillion—to boost investments in Make in India scheme. The media baron Rupert Murdoch also met him, he missed in the Valley so he flew to New York.
PM Narendra Modi’s second day stint at the Silicon Valley turned out to be bigger and fancier. With a town hall with Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s headquarter tour, India-US Start-up Konnect, and speech at SAP Center, Modi made it clear that India is “indeed” dominating 21st century and is the next big frontier for US tech powerhouses. It was very clear from start that Modi’s Silicon Valley visit was not just about the PM pitching Digital India but also the tech giants wooing the head of the largest democracy at the same time for their technologies. As Firstpost mentioned earlier, the Indian PM also experienced some of the most cutting edge technologies emerging from Silicon Valley with huge potential to transform India. At Google’s headquarters, Modi was taken around by Google CEO Sundar Pichai and shown demos of cutting-edge technologies the search engine giant is working on including, Project Iris, Street View and Google Earth. The Prime Minister also attended the Code for India event at the Google office. Project Iris—Google’s smart contact lens that measure glucose levels. The lens is able to measure glucose levels in diabetics by analysing their tears and may be on the market before 2019. India, which has the largest diabetes population in the world, could be the most relevant market for Google to launch its lenses if the cost factor remains viable for Indian wallets. Modi was also given a presentation of Google Earth. Pichai explained navigational, safety and other uses of Street View and Google Earth. In addition, PM also encouraged Google employees to develop apps which could benefit the common man, and urged them to look for solutions to problems like poverty.
On the other hand, Pichai elaborated on the partnership for free Wi-fi at 500 Indian railway stations. He said that Google will provide high speed internet services at 100 railway stations in India initially, and then expand it by 400 more by next year. “The Wi-fi services will be provided to support ‘Digital India’ campaign,” he added. Google said it will also launch an Android next month enabling users to type in 11 Indian languages. At Facebook town hall meet, PM Modi’s 50-minutes long encounter with Mark Zuckerberg Mark Zuckerbergwas nothing to do with technology showcase, but discussion on how communities can work together to address social and economic challenges. The discussion, however, had no mention of Facebook’s Internet.org project, which failed miserably in India. The questions were relatively safe and generic. In another event, PM Modi chaired a roundtable meeting on renewable energy, with top energy CEOs and experts, in San Jose. Participants were of the view that states and cities in India should be allowed to take the lead in clean energy initiatives. A related thought was that the current grid is not designed for carrying the 175 GigaWatts (GW) of renewable energy that India is targeting, and therefore a complimentary effort is required on the grid side. Private investment was emphasised as vital for realizing the vision of 175 GW, with a parallel example being given of how Israel had solved its water shortage using private investment. A side effect of this concerns Pakistan. It was lost in political and diplomatic fields and now it is lost the opportunity to improve its economy through technology.
More Pressure On Hapless Pakistan
In an indirect reference to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the terror agreement between India and the UAE and said that those who indulge in terrorism must be punished. Modi, who was addressing the Indian diaspora in Dubai Cricket Stadium, said the joint statement between India and the UAE condemns state sponsored terrorism. “UAE and India have made a clear statement against terror in their joint statement today. This is very important… ‘samajhne wale samajh jayenge’, ‘akalmand ko ishaara kaafi hai’ (the message will be clear to those it’s intended for),”
Modi said. “Those who indulge in terror must be punished and this is the message that has resonated from here today,” he added while talking about the anti-terror document signed with UAE. Asserting that terrorism has no boundaries, Prime Minister Modi said the world must unite to fight terror. “When I used to talk about terrorism, they used to say it’s a problem of your law and order. And now they understand that terrorism has no boundaries,” said Prime Minister Modi. “Good Taliban, Bad Taliban…Good Terror, Bad Terror…this won’t work. A decision has to be taken are you with terrorism or with humanity,” he added. Prime Minister Modi said India has been a victim of terrorism for 40 years. “We are victims of terrorism for 40 years. Innocent people have lost their lives,” he said. Around 70,000 people are attending the event.
“The world has to realise that terrorism can hit anyone at any place and it’s world’s responsibility to recognise it and unite against it.” Modi could not be more emphatic in urging countries to initiate counter to terrorism. His flair and powers of communication and memory for details floored leaders he met. One CEO after meeting Modi remarked. “He seemed to know more about my company than I do.”
How meaningful this visit was clear from various issues and
meetings he tweeted about. They informed that Modi invited both France and Britain to “Make in India” by encouraging businesses to manufacture in India.
The stalled negotiations on European Union-India Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement was mentioned in his meeting with Hollande. The Prime Minister also participated in a Leaders Summit on UN Peacekeeping, after his
summit meeting with US President Barack Obama.
Pressing for UNSC reforms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi regretted that nations contributing to peace-keeping operations have no
say in decision-making as he asserted that success of such mission depends ultimately on the “moral force” of the world body.
Addressing the Leaders’ Summit on Peace-keeping hosted by US President Barack Obama he said India remains committed to the peacekeeping efforts and announced contribution of one additional battalion of Indian troops comprising 850 soldiers, three police units and higher representation of women peace-keepers to such missions.
“Success of peacekeeping ultimately depends not on the weapons they (soldiers) carry but by the moral force of the UNSC,” he told the gathering including Obama, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and leaders from a large number of other countries. “The problems arise to a large extent because troop contributing countries do not have a role in decision-making process,” he added. India is one of the largest contributors to the peacekeeping having provided 180000 soldiers to 48 of the 69 such missions. Modi underlined the need for carrying out the “long pending task of reforms” of the UN Security Council to ensure its “relevance and effectiveness.”
Asserting that India’s commitment to peace-keeping remains strong and will grow, he noted that the country had been contributing to such missions from the beginning and was the first to send its female unit to Liberia. Over 161 of Indian soldiers have made the supreme sacrifice during peace-keeping missions, he said. Modi pointed out that
Indian soldiers had been working on peace-keeping missions since World War II during which it lost more than 24000 troops and nearly half of that went missing. “This legacy of sacrifice is shared by three nations present here,” he said, in an apparent reference to Pakistan and Bangladesh. He said that a memorial wall for the fallen peace-keepers should be erected expeditiously, for which India will contribute financially also.
In summing up one can say much was accomplished, much more was put in motion and above all by his tough talk on terrorism, even asking that the countries that harbor terrorists should be punished, Modi raised the diplomatic interaction higher and reduced Pakistan to be as bit player. What more could we ask him, the man with 56inch chest, and the courage and confidence to tell the world its missions in blunt terms? The second visit helped raise India’s stature higher.
By Vijay Dutt