Expanded Indo-US CEO forum reflects PM Modi’s priorities

  • Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 16, 2015 00:12 IST

The coming Republic Day summit will also see a parallel meeting of the Indo-US CEO Forum, the most important corporate engagement between the two countries.

The Indian delegation to the forum has been recently expanded to 17 members. Because of its perceived importance in boosting bilateral economic relations, the new line-up has been reportedly cleared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Some changes, like Ratan Tata’s replacement with Cyrus Mistry, reflect changes in the corporate leadership of long-standing delegation members.

However, three key changes in the Indian delegation are evident.

One is the first-time introduction of public-sector companies. Thus Arundhati Bhattacharya, head of the State Bank of India, B Prasada Rao of BHEL and Dinesh Sarraf of ONGC will be on the forum this year.

Two is the presence of Gujarat-based firms with long associations with Modi such as Sudhir Mehta of Torrent Pharmaceuticals and Gautam Adani of the infrastructure-oriented Adani Group.

Finally, in an unusual break from normal practice, Modi has included Anurag Kumar, director of the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science.

The heads of Reliance, Apollo, Biocon, ICICI Bank, Essar, Mahindra, Airtel, Jubilant and HDFC will remain on the delegation.

The forum was originally created to help both governments come up with ideas and policies to promote bilateral trade and investment.

The revamped Indian delegation is seen as reflecting the Modi government’s interest in reviving the country’s manufacturing sector, building up its infrastructure and revamping its energy security.

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