Send India some tourists, Modi tells NRIs at power dinner with Ambani, Nooyi

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, New York
  • Updated: Sep 29, 2014 12:09 IST

Help India by sending over some tourists, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Indian Americans at a power dinner on Sunday with Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani and PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi.

Not just some tourists. He had a plan: let each Indian American send only five American families to India every year. And that will be do wonders for the Indian economy.

In the morning, the prime minister had thanked a large gathering of Indian Americans for their support in his election as PM, and announced some travel concessions for them.

In the evening, he had a plan for them. If each of the 3 million Indian Americans sends five American families — four members each — you are looking at 60 million.

And that’s only from the US. But the number suggested by Modi could bring 10 times more than the actual arrival of foreign tourists to India in 2013, according to ministry of tourism. It was 6.97 million He said India doesn’t need anything else from overseas Indians — “not your dollars or your pounds”. These additional tourists would be a great help — “will create so many jobs”.

It was not a routine pre-dinner warm-up speech. He had a plan, as said before. The worldwide tourism business is estimated to be worth $3 trillion; and India has not even a tiny slice of if.

And he left them with that thought to chew over, with the food.

The prime minister was not eating of course, this being his fifth day of water-only diet for the navratraas, but others could, feasting on a multi-course vegetarian meal.

Other than Ambani and Nooyi, guests included industrialist Romesh Wadhwani, US lawmakers Ed Royce, Ami Bera — an Indian American, Joe Crowley and Pete Sessions.

Most of them sat at PM’s table — with external affairs minsiter Sushma Swaraj — but saw very little of him as he spent most of the evening on the stage, greeting guests.

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