By Arun Louis
New York, June 21 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi has met a parade of intellectuals, business leaders and health experts, making a pitch for investments in India and discussing a range of subjects from economic development and space exploration to Buddhism and the “scientific temperament” on the first day of his visit to the US.
The meeting that drew the most attention was with Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
Musk, who also owns Twitter, said after the meeting that he was a “fan” of Modi and that he would bring the electric vehicle and battery maker to India as soon as it was “humanly possible”.
Modi tweeted: “Great meeting you today @elonmusk! We had multifaceted conversations on issues ranging from energy to spirituality.”
At his meeting with hedge fund founder, investor and author Ray Dalio, Modi “highlighted reforms undertaken by the government to foster economic growth, including reduction of compliances and decriminalisation of large number of legal provisions”, and invited him to invest in India, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.
After meeting Nicholas Nassim Talib, the thinker who is known for explaining how quirks of history impact mankind, Modi tweeted that he “has interesting perspectives on many issues and I had the opportunity to hear them on some of those subjects”.
“He was greatly interested in India’s development strides. I emphasised on how we are nurturing a spirit of enterprise and risk-taking among our youth,” he added.
Taleb tweeted that they discussed risks, reaction to Covid, how successful interventions like controlling the virus that averted catastrophes look excessive in hindsight and “repeated small losses vs. blowup risk”.
Modi’s meeting with Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Romer touched on “India’s digital journey”, including the use of the biometric identification system Aadhaar and Digilocker, which enables universal paperless access to government documents, according to Bagchi.
“Talks also covered various initiatives being undertaken by India for urban development,” he added.
With Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist who popularises science, Modi discussed “inculcating scientific temperament among youth” and India’s space exploration missions”, Bagchi tweeted.
Modi and Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman spoke about “how Buddhist values can act as guiding light for finding solutions to global challenges” and India’s efforts to preserve that religion’s heritage, according to Bagchi.
Modi tweeted that he admires “his passion towards research and scholarship” on Buddhism.
The Prime Minister met with the Grammy-winning musician Falguni Shah, better known as Falu Shah whose song, “Abundance in Millets” raises awareness of healthy and environment-friendly millets, Bagchi tweeted.
Modi “appreciated her for bringing the people of India and USA together through her music”, he said.
She tweeted that the song was inspired by Modi’s “proposition to the @UN to declare 2023 as the International Year of Millets”.
Besides the one-on-one meetings, Bagchi tweeted that Modi met with a group of eminent US academics from diverse fields of agriculture, marketing, engineering, health, science and technology.
“Talks focused on possibilities of enhancing research collaborations and two-way academic exchanges under India’s New Education Policy. Academics also shared perspectives and experiences from their respective areas of expertise.”
Another such meeting was with a group of health experts.
They discussed the use of digital technologies for quality healthcare, greater focus on integrative medicine and better healthcare preparedness, according to Bagchi.
On Wednesday, Modi will lead the 9th International Yoga Day celebrations at the UN with General Assembly President Csaba Korosi and Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed.
Later, he will travel to Washington for a private meeting with President Joe Biden.
On Thursday, his state visit to the US will start formally at a White House ceremony.
Congress has invited him to address a joint session.
When he arrived by India1, the VVIP Boeing 777, at JFK Airport he was welcomed by Ruchira Kamboj, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, and Taranjit Singh Sandhu, New Delhi’s Ambassador to Washington, and by a crowd of supporters.
When he came to the Lotte Palace Hotel in midtown Manhattan, he flouted security to greet supporters deliriously chanting his name and dancing, while worried Secret Service agents and security personnel tried to put him in a tight physical cordon.
More supporters waited for him in the hotel lobby where he autographed pictures of him.