Prior to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s journey to the United States the American Pew opinion poll ratings that tell of an astonishing India-wide approval rating of 66 per cent was published. As significant was the numbers of Congress voters and sympathizers who have joined the Modi bandwagon. In democracies, more often than not, political parties win power when sufficient segments of uncommitted voters and a slice of opposition come together in a regime change exercise. The general perception across the country is Modi is an Indian Prime Minister first, and the BJP leader next.
This certainly strengthened his position when he addressed the United General Assembly in New York, met the US President Barack Obama, talked business with American investors and made his pitch for India in the Silicon Valley. It also added to his stature during his bilateral exchanges with other world leaders on the sidelines of the UN summit. The Pew survey stated: ‘Modis’s appeal is a driving force behind this upsurge in Indians’ positive mood. Those who have a lot of confidence in Modi voice greater satisfaction with the direction in the country today…..Those who have a lot of confidence in Modi are likely to expect the economic situation to improve a lot in the next 12 months….The Modi phenomenon transcends India’s traditionally partisan politics on most of the challenges facing the nation the Prime Minister and his party showed that Modi and his party enjoy the support of the BJP faithful and followers of the opposition Congress party.’ The Prime Minister’s performance on the international stage came in for high praise (Times of India September 20)
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, during his Bihar and Uttar Pradesh election tour compared his party to the legendary tech wizard Steve Jobs. (Hindu September 21) Why not Albert Einstein?
FDI inflow from US surges
Latest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from the US has surged to a three year peak. Between 2011-14, US FDI was $2.2 billion; between 2014-15 the figure jumped 2.5 billion, that is, one year’s inflow [with the Modi government in power] exceeded the figure of the previous three years. As to immediate plans of mega US companies, Google is set to construct a new campus in Hyderabad, reportedly to be the largest outside the US at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore; Cisco to invest Rs 1,200 crore in training and facility expansion; Johnson & Johnson’s largest manufacturing facility in India will be coming up in Telangana with an investment of Rs 4,000 crore across a 48 acre site; General Motors to pump in Rs 6,000 crore on a new plant; Mars to invest 160 million in a new manufacturing plant in Pune and Uber Technologies to invest 1 billion in India in its expansion plans across 18 cities (Times of India September 20)
Acquisitions for Indian forces
On the eve of Prime Minister Modi’s departure for the United States, India and America signed a massive defence deal worth $3.1 billion for the acquisition of 22 attack Apache helicopters armed with Hellfire missiles and 15 Chinook heavy lift helicopters that can carry artillery and troops to the battlefield. These acquisitions for the Indian Air Force, which are from the Boeing company will give the Indian military an offensive capability unmatched in the neighbourhood (Hindu, Telegraph, Times of India, Mint September 23)
GE CEO speaks his mind
Jeff Immelt, CEO General Electric told reporters that his company would not be able to invest in India’s civil nuclear industry until the liability regime was removed forthwith. He made a strong pitch for realistic electricity charges based on market requirements and called for reduction in subsidies. Companies could only invest in more power plants when they made sufficient profits to do so. He said Mr Modi’s vision of electricity in every Indian home by 2024 was unrealistic unless far-reaching economic reforms were put in place, he said.
However notwithstanding these impediments, he expressed optimism about the huge opportunity that India presented. As the world’s largest infrastructure company with a revenue of $146 billion in 2012-13, he felt India could grow faster. He said: ‘I have been a GE man for the past 33 years and this is the fifth time I am seeing momentum in India but it the first time I think it will take off….PM Modi has such hope on his shoulders….the hope of India and of the world….I haven’t seen anything like it.’ Immelt announced a $200 million multi-model manufacturing facility in Pune this year. (Hindu, Times of India, Mint September 22)
Tech giant and co-founder of IT major Infosys, Nandan Nilekani told a reporter that ‘India is the most hyper competitive internet market in the world….India is the only market where Americans and Chinese and homegrown companies are competing.
Suddenly there are three levels of competition. You have Amazon competing in e-commerce, companies like Alibaba and Softbank investing in Payton and Snapdeal, and you have a homegrown company like Flipkart. There will be winners and losers….The good news is the sector will be transformed and customers will benefit.’ Apropos of the ‘great innovation of the mobile industry it is the prepaid model.’(Times of India September 19)
Khosla excited by Indian innovations
Billionaire Indian American entrepreneur, Vinod Khosla, who co-founded Sun Microsystems and is now a venture capitalist was in Bangalore recently for the launch of a consumer mobile wallet. Asked by a reporter whether he was as optimistic about India now as he was two years ago - his reply was instant: he was, very much so. ‘I see the psychological change in the whole country….’
Then and now
‘There was a time, even five years ago, when you talked about new products and new start-ups, and it mattered to only 1 per cent of the population. But this has changed now. There’s a lot of good product innovation. For the first time, I’m beginning to see product innovation for the Indian market. That’s particularly encouraging.’(Times of India September 21)
Anti-tank missile test-fired
Amogha-1, an indigenously developed second generation Anti-Tank Guided Missile with a range of 2.8 km was successfully test-fired at the Indian Army’s Babina range in Madhya Pradesh, making it the first ever such weapon designed by Bharat Dynamics Ltd, Hyderabad (Hindu September 16)
Biocon insulin facility
Bangalore-based Biocon has opened its new manufacturing facility for the production of pen-like insulin devices which customers can use to service their needs. India currently imports 70 per cent of its insulin. Biocon’s product will create several thousands of jobs and will be exported to emerging markets abroad (Business Line September 16)
Lenovo India on roll
After getting more than half the order from the Tamil Nadu government scheme to supply free laptops to school and college students, Chinese Personal Computer manufacturer Lenovo won the contract for 400,000 PCs of the 1.1 million tendered for, giving the company the largest market share and positioning it to become the foremost supplier in India, where only 10 per cent of the population own PCs (Business Line September 23).