Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured a group of top American CEOs that governance reform is the number one priority for his government, underlining New Delhi’s pitch that the Indian economy is open for business.
“Reform in governance is my No 1 priority. We are for simplified procedures, speedy decision making, transparency and accountability,” Modi told over 40 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies with a collective net worth of US$ 4.5 trillion,
During the meeting over dinner, Modi also presented a page-long factsheet of the steps taken by his government in the last one year.
Among the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies attending event were Lockheed Martin chairman and CEO Marillyn Hewson, Ford president and CEO Mark Fields, IBM chairman Ginni Rometty, Pepsi Co chief Indra Nooyi, and Dow Chemical chairman Andrew Liveris.
Some of the CEOs attending the dinner described it as “report card”, adding that this reflected the great transparency of the Modi government.
“Please continue to do more what you are doing. May be slightly faster,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
Briefing reporters after the day-long meetings, Indian ambassador to the US Arun K Singh said the comments made by some of the CEOs was that a lot of progress has been made in the last one year, but it has been inaccurately assessed and reported.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister said the foreign direct investment (FDI) all over the world has fallen but in India it has increased by 40 per cent.
“This reflects confidence in the Indian economy,” Modi said.
During the meeting, Swarup said the Prime Minister listened from each one of the CEOs present in the room on what their plans are for India and what are the problems they are facing and how that can be resolved.
“By and large the mood was very upbeat. There is general consensus that the Prime Minister is effecting change in India. The only thing all the CEOs said is that, please make that change faster,” the Indian diplomat said.
Fortune editor Alan Murray moderated the discussion.
Citigroup chairman Michael O’Neill, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga, Boeing International president Marc Allen, Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn, Blackstone president Hamilton James, SanDisk co-founder Sanjay Mehrotra, Harman International chairman Dinesh Palatal and Time Inc CEO Joe Ripp were also present on the occasion.
Four-time Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna prepared an all-organic meal for the occasion.
Served on the menu plate were sandalwood saffron sherbet, pomegranate pangria with tandoori pineapple, paneer ravioli, thandai chicken, Mizoram black rice khichdi, saffron sheermal, mango-ginger soup and coconut rice creme brulee.
The CEOs also posed for a group picture with Modi before the dinner.
India had earlier announced its decision to host the G-4 summit, the first meet in 10 years, on Saturday to push for United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms, to be attended by Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
The Prime Minister will also be visiting Silicon Valley on September 27 to interact with start-ups from India, and has also scheduled a trip to the Google campus along with holding a town hall with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“(Modi’s) top programs ... are based on the idea that international companies will invest money and bring in technological know-how to build out the infrastructure - digital and otherwise - that India needs,” said Mukesh Aghi, president of the US-Indian Business Council.