Modi means business: 26 meetings lined up in his 3 days US trip

Modi means business: 26 meetings lined up in his 3 days US trip

Prime Minister Narendra Modi promises to pack more than a diplomatic punch in his upcoming visit to the US, where he is expected to reach out to the global community through a series of meetings and extensive use of technology while seeking to maximise the impact on investors and policy-makers.

Modi’s three-day visit from September 27 is expected to be chock-full with as many as 26 different meetings, in addition to his working lunch with US President Barack Obama at the White House and address to the United Nations, people familiar with the preparations said, adding that the schedule is yet to be finalised. The PM will be in New York on September 27 and 28, and in Washington for a day thereafter for the trip, which experts say could elevate his stature further on the global stage and infuse fresh energy and sense of purpose into relations between the world’s two largest democracies.

“There is a huge amount of enthusiasm in the US about Mr Modi,” said Vijay Jolly, convenor of the BJP’s foreign cell, who recently returned from a 12-day multi-city visit to the country.

For people in India as well as in the US, there will be separate toll-free numbers to listen to Modi’s public speeches, besides the social media packaging on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other platforms that marked his successful campaign for prime ministership, said Arvind Gupta, head of the BJP’s IT cell.

The biggest event during the visit will be the one organised by the Indian American Community Foundation at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where 20,000 of the diaspora will be selected through a draw of lots. Much like any other big event organised by the BJP in the past few months, this one too will be broadcast live using internet TV, webstreaming and also the technology patented by the party – Live Talk – where people can call on a toll-free number to hear the speech live.

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who is in charge of the preparations in the US and returned to India on Tuesday, said he was aware of the Madison Square event but refused to divulge further details. Bharat Lal, resident commissioner for Gujarat in Delhi, is currently in the US pitching for his state to investors. Lal was in charge of liaising with investors and foreign governments for the state when Modi was chief minister of Gujarat before becoming PM.

Although external affairs ministry officials and those at the Indian embassy in the US were tight-lipped about the plans, the people cited earlier said on condition of anonymity that the US-India Business Council is planning a big event where representatives of American companies, investors, Wall Street businessmen and executives will meet the PM on one of the days in New York.

The Indian embassy is planning to organise a dinner where over 700 members of the influential Indian American community will get an opportunity to meet the PM. Several big investors, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, tech and insurance company chiefs and retailers are expected to meet Modi.

The total bilateral trade in goods between the two countries stood at $63.7 billion in 2013 – Indian exports stood at $41.8 billion while US exports were at $21.9 billion. US foreign direct investment or FDI in India stood at $28.4 billion in 2012, led by investments in professional, scientific, technical services, manufacturing finance and insurance, and the information sectors. Without disclosing details of the preparations, David O’ Brien, communications manager of US-India Business Council told ET that the visit presents a “wonderful opportunity to honour Prime Minister Modi and his new government and to foster dialogue with American government and business leaders on a range of important subjects”.