Washington: Armed drones are the cutting edge technology in defense. India wants them. So, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with 5 US CEOs on Thursday morning included a one-on-one with Vivek Lall, CEO of General Atomics — makers of the Predator Drones. Lall has done stints with armaments biggies like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin. When he took over General Atomics, New Delhi saw that as an opportunity to acquire critical technology given his experience in navigating US-India defense deals.
In his meeting with Lall, the Prime Minister discussed “advancing defense manufacturing, use of emerging technologies & augmenting capacity building in India,” as per Indian officials.
The CEO meetings came in the background of India pressing forward with its bid to acquire cutting edge technology and investments at a time when there is deep distrust of China in Washington DC.
Lall said after the meeting with PM Modi: “It was an outstanding meeting. We spoke about technology & the confidence in the policy reforms that are coming in India and the great potential that India has from an investment perspective.”
Another Indian-American CEO to meet the Prime Minister on Thursday was Adobe Systems’ Shantanu Narayen, whose discussion with Modi centered on India’s flagship Digital India program and use of emerging technologies in sectors like health, education, and R&D.
Modi also met Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar; Cristiano Amon, President & CEO of Qualcomm, and Stephen Schwarzman from Blackstone, the investment management company.
India is looking for a major investment from Qualcomm, the chip giant. Amon expressed interest in working with India on ambitious digital transformation programs including in 5G, the public WiFi project PM WANI and others. He also expressed interest partnering with India to work in the field of semiconductors.
PM Modi said India has contributed to 5G standards and urged Qualcomm to actively participate as they did in case of the GPS-like navigation system NAVIK, PTI reported. He also spoke about the new liberalized drone policy and said that Qualcomm could take part in new opportunities in the new emerging market
India, Amon said, could be an important destination for the semiconductor industry, subject to the availability of infrastructure
With Widmar, Indian officials said Modi discussed India’s renewable energy landscape, and the CEO shared plans to use Production Linked Inventive scheme for manufacturing solar power equipment with unique thin-film technology and integrating India into global supply chains.
After his meeting with the Blackstone CEO, PM Modi tweeted, “It was a delight to meet Mr Stephen Schwarzman. His commercial success and intellectual prowess are admirable. We talked about India’s investment potential and why our country is one of the world’s most attractive destinations for investment.”
Schwarzman commented after the meeting: “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 5 years, we’re planning another $40 billion of assets.”