Colourful mechanised lions, the cogwheel logo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet Make in India initiative, welcomed him from every corner of this German town on Sunday and underscored the agenda he would push in a country known the world over for its engineering and economy .
Modi began his two-day tour of Germany , India’s largest trading partner in the European Union valued at around €15.96 billion last year, with a series of meetings with German industry captains and joined chancellor Angela Merkel at the inauguration of Hannover Messe, the world's largest fair for industrial technology where India is the official partner this year.
Arriving after a three-day visit to France with 20 pacts in his pocket, Modi made a strong pitch to attract German capital, especially in 25 identified sectors — from automobiles to wellness.
Promising a much-improved tax environment for business, Modi said his government was encouraging “competitive federalism” in India as states vie to excel and “a predictable and transparent” environment to open up investments.
“We are creating an environment that is stable, where rules will not be changed frequently and there will be no surprise elements,” he said, trying to allay fears of foreign companies over India’s notorious red tape and legal minefields.
He said Make in India was not a “slogan or a brand, but a new national movement”.
Merkel appreciated the Modi government’s approach and said: “Competitive federalism … something we can learn from you.”
Apart from a round table with chief executives, he met several of them individually, notably Lutz Bertling of Bombardier Transportation, Hubert Lienhard of Voith, Dieter Zetsche of Daimler and Olaf Koch of Metro.
Anshu Jain, one of the most prominent business leaders of Indian origin in Germany and the co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank, was also present.
The eighth largest foreign investor in India, Germany’s foreign direct investments in the country during January-November 2014 was valued at around $995.7 million.
From billboards to trams and buses, the lion was everywhere as 400 Indian companies are among 6,500 exhibitors at the fair, first held in a factory in the year India attained its independence. A graphic depiction of the Asiatic lion, the pride of Modi’s home state Gujarat, is making a splurge at the exhibition.
Modi unveiled a statue of Mahatma Gandhi before joining Merkel at the fair.
(With inputs from agencies)