At business end of visit, India story finds its narrative

pbeat after a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York on Thursday, 42 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies with a combined net worth of $4.5 trillion expressed happiness and satisfaction at the changes being spearheaded by the government. This was stated on Friday by officials who participated in the interaction.

“They felt that the initiatives being taken by the government were inaccurately assessed and reported, and appreciated the trend and direction in India,” said Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Arun K. Singh.

“They were already convinced about the India story and most are already invested in India. Most of them will be looking at more investments in the country,” he said.

“Everyone was happy with the changes in India. Their only demand was that the changes be faster,” Vikas Swarup, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, said. Mr. Swarup added that Mr. Modi assured the CEOs that the government believed in promoting the private sector, and was creating a “predictable and transparent governance structure”.

Several CEOs that The Hindu spoke to after the interaction echoed the same sentiments.

Andrew Liveris, chairman and chief executive officer of the Dow Chemical Company, said Mr. Modi “came across as practical, and demonstrating the experience of running a state for several years”.

On demands made by the participants, he said: “We will want many changes not only in India but also here in the U.S. and in the entire world. But the general sense is that the government of India is taking earnest measures to improve the ease of doing business.” Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International Inc, said: “The direction of changes in India was encouraging, but the changes could be faster.”

Mr. Modi told media leaders that “digital technology can help in innovation, empowerment and democratisation”.

Mr. Swarup said there was no discussion on altering the FDI caps in the new media industry in India at the meeting, organised by NewsCorp headed by the Murdoch family. Father Rupert and son James Murdoch were at the meeting and so were heads of Sony, Discovery, Time Warner, A&E, VICE Media.

“Mr. James Murdoch pointed out that about 40 per cent of the world’s entertainment industry was present.”

“The only demand that they made was to speed up the roll-out of 4G technology that would enable the expansion of their business,” Mr. Swarup said.

Everyone was happy with

the changes in India. Their

only demand was that the changes be faster

— Vikas Swarup

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