Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not taking along an industry delegation to the US but top representatives of India Inc are likely to travel to New York and Washington to be part of the power-packed business meetings and receptions being hosted for him.
Among the industrialists likely to showcase the prowess of Indian business in America are Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry and Adani Group founder & Chairman Gautam Adani, according to a source in the know.
Tata Group Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata is also expected to attend the reception to be organised by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC, on September 30.
Ambani had dropped out of a delegation of about 12 industrialists during Modi's visit to Japan last month after the PMO had finalised the list. Mistry did not travel to Japan due to his other engagements, though Adani had joined Modi in his previous trip.
Another source pointed out that a large number of Indian chief executives across the pharmaceutical, information technology, automobiles, infrastructure, banking & finance, energy, and defence sectors would be present in the US because of their significant interests in that country, though the names of participants were being kept under wraps.
"This is an opportunity that no major business house wants to miss out on,'' said a civil servant.
Even as the CEOs and chairmen will not travel with the PM and will not represent the Indian side officially, they will participate in the receptions and dinners along with Modi and his key aides at various places, including the White House.
The Tata group, with a strong US connect across automobiles, hospitality and education, is among India's top businesses. Reliance Industries, too, has significant operations in the energy sector in America, especially in shale gas. Companies aspiring for foreign investment in defence collaborations are also likely to be in attendance during the Modi trip.
Such was the rush to be part of Modi's reception being organised by USIBC that a participant was ready to shell out $100,000 to be seated on the same table as Modi, a source said. The other seats at the reception could be had for around $5,000 each, the source added. However, the USIBC did not deny or confirm this.
David O'Brien, the USIBC spokesperson for the event, told Business Standard in reply to a questionnaire that "the reception is a private members-only event and we are grateful to our sponsors." CEOs of American businesses and Wall Street, including IBM and GE, will attend the reception.
Another event that is overbooked is at the MadisonSquareGarden in Manhattan on September 28, where Modi is tipped to get a rockstar welcome. This is being organised by the Indian community in America at a cost of as much as $1 million, and being anchored by a former Miss America, Nina Davuluri.
According to reports, Modi will stay at the US President's guest house, Blair House, in Washington, DC. Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had also stayed there earlier.
It might, however, not be all party in the US. Some protests are being lined up, too, against the Gujarat riots of 2002. It was for these riots that Modi was barred from entering that country for years, and he was denied a visa to the US twice when he was the Gujarat chief minister.
The Alliance for Justice and Accountability has already announced black-flag protests in New York on September 28. The Sikh for Justice is also planning a citizen's court "to indict Modi at a park in front of the White House on September 30."
Representing the Coalition Against Genocide, which came into being after the 2002 riots and had played a role in Modi being denied US visas in the past decade, Shaik Ubaid told Business Standard: "We stand in full solidarity with the victims of the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, and believe justice has not been served yet. We will continue the struggle for justice, regardless of the ideology of the party in power."
"We understand the diplomatic and economic/geopolitical compulsions that caused the US to grant a visa to Mr Modi, given he is now a head of government. However, this visa is not a reversal of its earlier ban when Mr Modi was the Gujarat CM," Ubaid added.
The International Religious Freedom Act is still on the statute books, and it can and should be applied to other Indian officials who have been involved in egregious violations of religious freedom, according to the organisation.