WASHINGTON: Invest in India before the line become too long, a confident Prime Minister Narendra Modi advocated a hall-full of top US honchos - an appropriate last event in his four-day whirlwind visit in which both countries agreed to take steps to raise trade five-fold to $500 billion
The crowd may not have been as loud as the 19,000 Indian-Americans at Madison Square Gardens, but it was clear that the adoration was equally intense.
“What a difference on election can make,” chairman of the United States India Business Council Ajay Banga said in his introductory remarks. “The best days of US-India relations are coming,” he said, echoing the BJP’s poll campaign slogan of “acche din”.
The last two days of Modi’s trip had been about hardselling India - from the power breakfast with 11 top US CEOs, then one-on-one meetings with select corporate whizzes and finally addressing over 300 businessmen at one go. The strategy was clearly thought out to adapt to US realities where the private sector made their own agendas, and were not dictated by the government.
When he came to the podium, Modi said that he saw so many familiar faces, as many of them had come for his Vibrant Gujarat summit.
He reminded them that he warned them of not delaying visit to Gujarat, as the queue may be too long. “Today I am saying the same thing with confidence- that the queue would be too long too soon,” Modi said to an audience which included World Bank chairman and Indian industrialist Mukesh Ambani
He said that India was now ready for take-off within the initial months of his government. “There is no need to waste time in finding an answer to the question? why we are lagging behind...We need to make only one small decision: ‘Chalo, Nikal Paro’ (Come Let’s Move).”
Modi gave the same spiel that he he had given since to all chief executive officers and business tycoons since his Japan visit - labour reforms, red carpet not red tape, use India as a manufacturing base, stable tax regime and simplification of rules to make it easy for business. As in Japan, he noted that “as a Gujarati, business is in my nerves”.
He spelled out the need for encouraging a vibrant economy. “Fiscal deficit should be less. There should be no existence of tax terrorism. There should be simplification of taxation system. After coming to power, we have given priority to these things.”
“Today, I can say with confidence that within six months, we will implement and enforce all parameters of ease of business,” the PM said, adding that ‘Make in India’ campaign is being connected with the digital world.
Reiterating that the government ‘has no business to remain in business’, Modi said his government has taken decision of a record disinvestment of $10 billion. “Our job is to facilitate things and not run a business,” he said.