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Modi meets top American CEOs in first engagement in US

By Lalit K Jha
Last updated on: September 23, 2021 22:29 IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met a group of five top American corporate leaders on a one-on-one basis from a range of diverse sectors ranging from drones to 5G, semiconductor, and solar and encouraged them to step up their investments by highlighting the vast opportunities in India.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Qualcomm CEO Cristiano B Amon in Washington, DC, September 23, 2021. Photograph: PMOIndia on Twitter.

Modi, who arrived in Washington, DC, on Wednesday on an official visit to the US during which he will hold the first face-to-face meeting with President Joe Biden and his deputy Kamala Harris, held one-on-one meetings with CEOs of Qualcomm, Adobe, First Solar, General Atomics and Blackstone.


Two of them are Indian-Americans -- Shantanu Narayen from Adobe and Vivek Lall from General Atomics. Three others are Cristiano E Amon from Qualcomm, Mark Widmar from First Solar, and Stephen A Schwarzman from Blackstone.

Prime Minister Modi on Thursday began his engagements in the US with a "productive interaction" with President and CEO of Qualcomm Cristiano E Amon during which he highlighted the vast business opportunities in India.

 “Talking technology...," the Prime Minister's Office said in a Twitter post after Modi's meeting with Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon and First Solar CEO Mark Widmar. They had a productive interaction, it said.

"PM Modi highlighted the vast opportunities India offers. Mr. Amon expressed keenness to work with India in areas such as 5G and other" Digital India efforts, it added.

Qualcomm, which started its operations in 1996, has operations specialising in wireless modem and multimedia software, Digital Signal Processing (DSP) and embedded applications, and digital media networking solutions.

In India, Qualcomm Ventures has invested in companies that address key domestic issues from dairy, transportation to defence.

"Toward making India a global innovation hub!" ministry of external affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.

The prime minister had a conversation with Amon on investment opportunities in hi-tech sectors in India.

“Discussed recent electronics and telecom manufacturing PLI schemes; and measures to strengthen innovation ecosystem," he added.


IMAGE: PM Modi with Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen in Washington, DC, September 23, 2021. Photograph: PMOIndia on Twitter.

In his meeting with Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, Prime Minister Modi discussed Adobe's ongoing activities in India and future investment plans, according to Bagchi.

“Ideas to leverage Digital India flagship programme in sectors like health, education and R&D were also discussed,” he said.

"Deepening Knowledge Partnerships!” he tweeted.

After North America, India represents Adobe's biggest operations with over 6,000 employees across its campuses in Noida and Bengaluru.

India also serves as an innovation hub for Adobe, with the Indian R&D team contributing to development of every Adobe product.

Moreover, initiatives such as Adobe's Grassroots Innovation Challenge and Women-in-Technology Scholarship are fueling the ongoing digital revolution in India.

IMAGE: PM Modi with Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar, in Washington, DC, September 23, 2021. Photograph: PMOIndia on Twitter.

With Mark Widmar, CEO, First Solar, PM Modi discussed India’s renewable energy landscape.

They discussed investment opportunities offered in India's telecommunications and electronics sector.

This included the recently launched Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) as well as developments in the semiconductor supply chain in India, the MEA said in a release.

"Strategies for building the local innovation ecosystem in India were also discussed,” the ministry added.

"Powering India's Solar Potential!" Bagchi said after Modi's meeting with Widmar. They discussed India's renewable energy landscape.

Widmar shared plans to use the PLI scheme for manufacturing solar power equipment with unique thin-film technology; and integrating India into global supply chains, Bagchi said in a tweet.

First Solar has successfully commissioned 150 MW of Utility-Scale Solar Power to the Grid in India and has installed 1.8 GW of solar capacity in the country.

Early this year, it announced its intention to set up a new 3.3 GW Facility in India.

As such First Solar is contributing to India's plans to ramp up solar power generation to 100 GW by 2022.

During the meeting, the prime minister elaborated on India's efforts to harness solar energy, including the 'One world, One sun and One grid' initiative and investment opportunities in the sector, his office said in a tweet.

"They talked about India's renewable energy landscape, particularly solar energy potential, and our target of 450 GW electricity generation from renewable sources by 2030,” the ministry said.

Discussions also took place about First Solar's interest in setting up manufacturing facilities in India using their unique thin-film technology by availing the recently launched Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme, as well integrating India into global supply chains, it added.

IMAGE: PM Modi meets General Atomics CEO Vivek Lall in Washington, DC, September 23, 2021. Photograph: PMOIndia on Twitter.

Lall, a prominent Indian-American aerospace and defence expert who played key roles in some of the major defence deals between India and the US, was last year appointed as the Chief Executive of General Atomics Global Corporation at its headquarters in San Diego, California.

Lall appreciated the recent policy changes to accelerate defence and emerging technology manufacturing and augment capacity building in India in his talks with the prime minister, the ministry of external affairs said in a statement.

”They spoke about strengthening the defence technology sector in India,” it said.

”Discussing a subject of the future, which has captured the imagination of the present. Mr. Vivek Lall of @GeneralAtomics Global Corporation interacted with PM @narendramodi. They discussed India's strides in drone technology, including the path-breaking reforms and PLI (Production-Linked Incentive) scheme,” the Office of Prime Minister Modi said on Twitter.

General Atomics (GA) is one of the world's leading privately held nuclear and defence companies.

"There are a lot of potential areas of collaboration that we're in discussions with, I think US companies and many of my colleagues in US companies see India as a very promising destination," Vivek Lall said after meeting PM Modi in Washington, DC.

“These are very laudable policies, prescriptions and reforms that the PM and government have taken. I think that will certainly catalyse a lot of interest and investments in India,” he said about India's new drone policy.

“It was an outstanding meeting. We spoke about technology and the confidence in the policy reforms that are coming in India and the great potential that India has from an investment perspective.”

IMAGE: PM Modi with Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman in Washington, DC, September 23, 2021. Photograph: PMOIndia on Twitter.

After meeting with Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone Group, PMO tweeted: "Giving greater momentum to investments in India. Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone Group met PM Modi. Various investment opportunities in India, including those arising due to the National Infrastructure Pipeline and National Monetisation Pipeline were discussed.”

“I had a very good meeting with the PM. I told him that Blackstone had already invested $60 billion in assets in India, and over the next five years, we're planning another $40 billion of assets,” Schwarzman said after the meeting.

"India remains an attractive investment destination! PM @narendramodi met Mr. Stephen Schwarzman, CEO @blackstone. Discussed ongoing projects and further investment opportunities in India, including under the National Infrastructure Pipeline and National Monetisation Pipeline," Bagchi tweeted.

Blackstone, which started its operations in India in 2006 and has so far invested around $15 billion in various sectors including private equity, real estate, education, fashion, packaging and housing finance.

Blackstone Real Estate Fund is said to be the largest owner of commercial real estate in India.

The company played a key role in launching India's first real estate investment trust (REIT) along with its partner Embassy Group in 2019 and has since then launched two REITs in the country.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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