With PM Narendra Modischeduled to speak at 11.15 am, chief executives did not want to take a chance, given that the opening plenary is usually a full house. Some of them turned up as early as 9.30am but had to wait for the doors to be opened at 10.15 am.
52-minute speech bit too long
When CEOs were asked to comment on Modi’s speech, everyone dished out the highest possible praise. But in private, many said the 52-minute speech was a bit too long, especially the repeated reference to Indian heritage.
Suspense over Hindi or English
Before Modi spoke, the big discussion in the media was whether he would speak in English or Hindi. The presence of a teleprompter suggested that he planned to speak to an international audience in English. There were some who suggested that the PM should stick to the rashtra bhasha, much like Xi Jinping at last year’s meeting in Davos. It was only a minute or so after his speech started that the suspense was over and the people in the audience started putting on their headphones to hear the translation.
When LN Mittal met Mukesh Ambani
Both SBI’s Rajnish Kumar and ICICI Bank’s Chanda Kochhar stopped to exchange pleasantries with ArcelorMittal boss Lakshmi Mittal, after the opening session addressed by Modi. A few minutes later, Mittal was spotted with Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani.
After his speech, Modi rushed for a bilateral meeting with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, who is to visit India next month with his family and a large business delegation. While terrorism turned into a key topic of discussion in the meeting, Indian CEOs who had gathered for an interaction with the Indian PM had to wait. Soon the interaction was called off and it turned into a photo session. CEOs waited patiently for nearly 30 minutes till the PM showed up, only to rush for a lunch with over 100 chief executives who are part of the International Business Council.
Modi may have walked in later than scheduled for the meeting with CEOs, but he eased the tension as soon as he sat down for a photograph with them. First he told them “Aap hans kyon nahin rahe? (why aren’t you smiling)”. Then after shoot, he said: “All of you seem pleased with me at the moment, but let us see what you say after the budget is presented.” Is it a pointer to a tough budget for the corporate sector?