Transcript of Press Briefing by Official Spokesperson on the Prime Minister's first day of programme in California (September 26, 2015)

September 28, 2015

Official Spokesperson (Mr. Vikas Swarup): Good evening friends and welcome to this press briefing on the Prime Minister’s first day in California. I have with me Mr. Arun Singh, our Ambassador to the United States. So, we just go through the broad elements of the Prime Minister’s programme today, the kinds of people he met, what were the outcomes and then I just give you a little briefing on Prime Minister’s programme for tomorrow.

Today, the Prime Minister arrived in the afternoon from New York. His first interaction was with the Indian community. This was a community reception organized by our Embassy in Washington and our Consulate General in San Francisco which enabled the Prime Minister to meet a broad cross-section of the Indian American diaspora in this part of the world. He also had separate interactions with the members of the Sikh community and with some other prominent PIOs as well. Immediately, after that, he left for Tesla Motors. Tesla is a very iconic company led by a very iconic individual by the name of Elon Musk who is an entrepreneur, who is an inventor, who is a philanthropist and he was there personally present to escort the Prime Minister to show him around the Tesla facility. He saw how the Tesla electric cars are made. In fact, he said, we are not in the business of making the best electric car or the best battery powered car; we are in the business of making the best car. He showed us in fact how the entirely robotic facility is using the state-of-the-art equipments to manufacture these Tesla cars. They have current model, a very expensive one, and they also have plans to introduce slightly lower cost model- ‘slightly lower cost model’ in a relative terms only. Which might be a game-changer in terms of allowing people to use a battery operated car which could be affordable for them as well. But for us the main takeaway from that meeting was their power wall which is long term storage battery which can have multiple applications. The Prime Minister was very keen to see how we could utilize the battery- this power wall concept to lead for development in India. In fact, the example given was just as cellphones enable you to go from nothing to having mobile telephony, in a similar way the power wall concept, the solar operated battery can allow you to bring energy to hitherto unserviced parts of India where you have nothing right now but using solar power and this long term battery people can get access to energy immediately. So, there was a very good discussion on that.

After that, the Prime Minister came back to the hotel and he had a call on by Mr. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. Apple is again one of the most iconic companies in the world. In fact, it was recently valued as the most valuable company in the world and this is because of the kind of products that they have created. As Mr. Tim Cook said, we are just not in technology business; it is how technology interacts with humanity that makes us so special. He, in fact, said that India has a very special place in the heart of every Apple employee for the simple reason that Mr. Steve Jobs, when he was a young man, went to India for inspiration. It was what he saw in India that infused in him the desire to create Apple; so, India will always be special for us. He expressed his great desire to be a partner in Prime Minister’s Digital India initiative which he thought was a transformative initiative which could really be a game-changer in India. The Prime Minister also said that we would like Apple to start manufacturing in India. He mentioned the huge opportunity that India offered, the fact that Foxconn, which is Apple’s largest partner has already decided to set up a manufacturing base in India. Mr. Tim Cook responded positively. I think India does fit into his long term plans. He particularly was interested in the whole app development economy because that can be very important factor for entrepreneurship where individual app developers can just become part of the app universe.

The Prime Minister has been mentioning that there is public sector, there is private sector and then there is personal sector. The personal sector he is talking about is people who can be self-made entrepreneurs and Mr. Tim Cook said that using this app development tools, people can really become part of this huge industry. He gave the example of China where in fact he said they created one and half million jobs in China just for app development. So, that offered a huge example for India as well Then there was some discussion on Apple Pay, how this mobile payment platform could also be part of our Jan Dhan Yojana and other such initiatives.

After that, there was a call on Prime Minister by Mr. Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Mr. Sundar Pichai of Google, there was Mr. Paul Jacobs from Qualcomm, Mr. John Chambers of Cisco and there was a discussion really on how all these very iconic companies could contribute to the Digital India programme, Skills India programme. Thereafter, they all came for Digital India dinner where I am sure all of you were present. So, I need not elaborate on that. Basically the Prime Minister used this platform to expound on his vision for Digital India, how Digital India can be a platform for improved governance, for improved connectivity for faster service delivery and can have a transformative impact on the lives of all Indians. So, you all have heard the Prime Minister, you all have heard how he plans to bridge the digital divide and how Silicon Valley can be one of the most valuable important partners for us in this journey. I will stop here and get the Ambassador to supplement what I have just said.

Mr. Arun Singh (Indian Ambassador to the US):
I think Vikas has covered it well. The only points I wanted to emphasize is that the main reason and interest in visiting the Tesla was related to their battery technology and energy storage because in terms of the renewable energy thrust and programme that the Government has, battery storage would be critical. Therefore, the storage not only related to solar power when to generate it, but also storage in terms of looking at peak and off peak power generation even by other sources. That was important and there was a sense that as the cost of the battery comes down, there would be huge potential for that kind of technology in India. That is something we looked at. In terms of Apple and their interest in India, I think there was a sense that a lot of design innovation is happening in India. A lot of app development is happening in India and as Apple expands its presence in India in a medium and long term framework including with manufacturing presence, there would be enhanced opportunities for app developers related to the Apple platforms. That would be, of course, important part of the Digital India programme of the Government. That is the only two points I wanted to emphasize.

Official Spokesperson: As you know, the Prime Minister came into California from the G-4 summit. So, if you have any questions pertaining to that also, I will be happy to answer. Anyway, the floor is now open to questions.

Question (Vidya, India Post): I just want to know, with the conversion and discussion we had with Tim Cook and everybody, has he promised any amount to be invested in India and employment to be generated in India?

Official Spokesperson: You saw some announcements at the dinner. There was announcement by Paul Jacobs to investment US dollar 150 million. So, some people have made some public announcements. In these cases, there were specific figures mentioned. In other cases, there is an indication of an intent that people are seriously working on it. But I guess they are not yet ready to make specific announcements.

Question (Natasha): Can you tell us a little bit more if it is possible to share broad figures of jobs that you can seek as a result of all these Digital India initiative and can you talk a little bit also about the elementary round tables which happen tomorrow?

Mr. Arun Singh: On jobs again, with the kind of technology development disruption that is happening now every year, I do not think anybody can predict for five years or ten years down the line. You have to look at what their intent is and people are making various serious intention terms of their support investment and in fact Qualcomm announcement apart from anything else of US dollar 150 million support startups in India and what kind of job potential that creates, nobody can imagine at this stage. So, I think there is a clear sense you could get through the discussion, through the comments that were made here that in terms of digital technology India is already very much part of the ecosystem that is there in the United States, not only through the Indian Americans who are working, not only through Indian companies who are servicing companies here, but also lot of work is being done in India in partnership. So, it is very much a part of that ecosystem and therefore going ahead, there is clearly potential for and therefore Prime Minister’s presence here, his message, his interaction with leading CEOs of all these companies is aimed at that. Tomorrow, there would be two events which would be linked to that. One is, there is a major event on startups tomorrow which is being done by TiE from here and NASSCOM from India where NASSCOM is bringing certain number of successful startups from India and they will be interacting with some successful startups here and there will be discussion on issues and how would we take this aspect forward. So, this would be important. In terms of renewable energy, again one of the very important thrust in terms of Prime Minister’s visit here is on renewable energy and that, as I mentioned, was part of the visit to Tesla. Tomorrow, we are doing an event along with Precourt Institute of Energy of Stanford University and the US Department of Commerce and EoS. The Secretary of Energy Dr. Moniz is going to be here also for that event. There we have some people- thought leaders, academia in this sector, we have representatives from industry, from startups from venture capital, from financial services sector, all looking at and discussing aspects related to renewable energy and how do we take it further in the Indian context. So, that is the thrust of the event tomorrow.

Question (Seema Sirohi, Economic Times): I was wondering in the private meetings that the PM had with CEOs like Mr. Satya Nadella etc., did they raise any of the challenges that they face in India and if so, if you could us flavour of those?

Official Spokesperson: I think the thrust of the discussion was on the opportunity. They of course spoke here in the meeting before the before the event with the Prime Minister was one partly in the nature of a courtesy meeting because they were all coming here. But it was a fairly substantive meeting which went on almost for 25 to 30 minutes and there was discussion. But the focus was essentially on opportunities - opportunities for enterprises based here, opportunities fro India and the potential for partnership.

Question (Narayan Lakshman, The Hindu): My question relates to whether amidst forward steps you …(inaudible)… there was any discussion on the fact that there was ………..the sense very much controversy and India and plugging deep into Indian economy small city is other ventures. So, how is Indian ……….issue this because they ……..Indian

Official spokesperson: Well, one, I am not going to talk here about Indian Government’s policy as such because that is not my mandate. I will talk about India-US cooperation. Secondly NSA issue you are referring to was issue related to the US and not an issue related to India. I think in terms of what is happening in India, there is a realization that the digital technology has a tremendous potential, for empowering people, for promoting social inclusion and for democratizing access to information. I think these are the aspects people are looking at in terms of how to spread access to information, education, to a wider mass of people so that we can promote empowerment and inclusion.

Question: I guess …(inaudible)… there was for example …(inaudible)… that concerned about BJP, the party being under surveillance and it certainly has national security implication? Are they serious or …(inaudible)…

Official Spokesperson
: In the meetings that I attended with the leaders of the industry here, there was no discussion related to that. There was a clear discussion on the opportunities and the economic, societal benefit opportunities that would be provided through this and the job creation opportunities, the technology reception opportunities would be available to India to leapfrog in terms of development and technology.

Question (Manish Jha): This is about the G-4 summit meeting in New York, what is the way ahead for UN Security Council reforms and what is our strategy? Are we looking at a time frame? Secondly, ahead of Mr. Modi’s visit to California, some academics had expressed concern about privacy issues in Digital India mission. Were those issues also raised in any of these meetings?

Official Spokesperson:
As far as your second question is concerned, nobody raised that particular issue. Coming to your first question regarding G-4, if you have seen the joint statement issued at the end of that meeting, it clearly calls for a defined time frame, the time frame being the 70th anniversary of the United Nations which has already started, which will continue till September, 2016. So, the four leaders agreed that this offers us a historic opportunity to effect the long delayed reform of the UN Security Council. For that purpose the strategy is to build as broad a coalition as possible of like-minded countries which are for the pro-reform template and which can come together and create the necessary conditions for the Inter-Governmental Negotiations to reach a logical conclusion.

Question (Kanika Sridhar):
I have a question with regard to private meetings that Prime Minister had with the technology leaders here. …(inaudible)… access of free services and the exchange of information between the two countries, then huge immigration system and the amount of access that people of India have to the education system here and vice versa. So, were there any topics discussed with regard to this? Is there any hope on the horizon for better immigration policy?

Official Spokesperson: I would say those issues we discussed on a regular basis with people where we feel there would be an impact in terms of the policies that we are looking at. So, here the focus was entirely in terms of the technology and the opportunity it creates. That was the thrust on discussion and the opportunity it creates for people in India through startups and the partnership that it generates and the technology generation that it creates for US companies. So, that was the focus here.

Question: This question is about PM Modi meeting with Tesla Motors. Was there discussion about absorption of technology that Tesla is using for its electric cars or Tesla is setting up manufacturing facilities for batteries in India or is it only an introduction to the way this technology is being used here?

Official Spokesperson: I do not think Tesla indicated any immediate plans to set up manufacturing facility in India. But the issue was that the kind of battery technology or storage technology that they have has a relevant for India. We need to study that and work on that more to see in what manner it can be used or adapted for use in India. As those discussions progress, then whether there is potential for doing production in India, would be the follow-up stages.

Question (Abhishek, India TV):
जी-4 की मीटिंग को इस नजरिये से भी देखा जा रहा है कि आप लोग पुरानी सरकार का जो पैकेज है उसको आगे बढ़ा रहे हैं और जी-4 के जरिये परमानेन्‍ट मेम्‍बरशिप भारत को मिलेगी तो कुछ करना है। यह एक रिएक्‍शनरी ब्‍लॉक बना रहा है। बाकी देश और एकजुट होकर आपका विरोध करेंगे। यह खतरा, इस तरह की आवाजें सामने आई हैं। आपको यह point of view कितना realistic लगता है कि ऐसा करने से उल्‍टा नतीजा होगा। पिछली सरकार ने जो किया उसी को आप continue कर रहे हैं, कुछ नया नहीं कर रहे हैं।

आधिकारिक प्रवक्‍ता: पहली बात तो यह है कि भारत की कोई भी सरकार आप ले लीजिये, प्रत्‍येक सरकार ने चाहा है कि भारत संयुक्‍त राष्‍ट्र की सुरक्षा परिषद का स्‍थायी सदस्‍य बने। कोई भी सरकार नहीं आई है जिसने यह कहा हो कि हम नहीं चाहते हैं कि भारत स्‍थायी सदस्‍य बने। तो पहली बात यह कि इस विषय को लेकर foreign policy में continuity है। दूसीर बात जो आपने कही है, तो जी-4 देशों का ही समूह है यह बात आपकी सही है लेकिन चार की पॉवर कितना multiply हो सकती है। चार देश क्‍यों साथ आए हैं क्‍योंकि हर देश की अपनी स्‍ट्रेन्‍थ है, जापान की अपनी स्‍ट्रेन्‍थ है, जर्मनी की अपनी स्‍ट्रेन्‍थ है, ब्राजील और भारत की तो अपनी स्‍ट्रेन्‍थ है ही, तो ये चार देश इसलिए साथ आए कि एकजुट होकर हम करेंगे तो चार की पॉवर चार सौ हो सकती है क्‍योंकि यह दो स्‍टेज में होगा। पहले एक resolution पारित होना होगा जिसमें यह कहा जायेगा कि संयुक्‍त राष्‍ट्र की सुरक्षा परिषद का विस्‍तार और सुधार हो और सुधार की प्रक्रिया क्‍या हो और उसके पश्‍चात कौन-कौन देश नये सदस्‍य बनेंगे यह बात आयेगी। वहॉं तक आने के लिए आपको एक पस्‍ताव तो पारित करना पडेगा। उसके लिए एक से बेहतर है जितने ज्‍यादा लोग साथ आ सकें। यह चार देशों का समूह अफ्रीकी देशें, कैरिबियन देशों और एल-69 से बात करेगा। जैसा कि आपने देखा है, Small Island Developing Countries की क्‍या requirements हैं। तो broad idea यही है कि जितना बड़ा coalition हम बना सकें, जितना बड़ा coalition हम खड़ा कर सकें क्‍योंकि कोई भी इस तरह का प्रस्‍ताव पारित होने के लिए United Nations General Assembly में 129 मतों की आपको आवश्‍यकता होगी। 129 मत जुटाने के लिए हम पूरा प्रयास करेंगे।

Question: Do you have any idea about how long is this meeting scheduled with Obama the day after tomorrow and what is on the agenda?

Official Spokesperson:
When two leaders meet, there is no set time limit. Nobody will ring a bell and say, the meeting is over now. They will discuss issues as long as there is a need to discuss those issues. All I can say is that the meeting will begin at 11 o’ clock. The idea is that at the end of that, both leaders will probably express their views as to what was discussed. That is when you will come to know what the agenda was.

Question (Yeshwant):
I have one question on PM’s speech today …(inaudible)…

Official spokesperson: Backroom operations are never revealed in the front room.

Question: Is there official reactions to some of the protests held here?

Official spokesperson: I did not see any protests.

Question: It happened slightly after Prime Minister’s presence here.

Official spokesperson: It is there democratic right. We have no comment on that.

Question: प्रधानमंत्री अमेरिकी जमीन पर हैं और अमेरिका के मंच से भारत के स्‍थायी सदस्‍या के दावे को सही प्रकार काराह हैउसका समर्थन करता रहाहै। परसों जब राष्‍ट्रपति से ओबामा से प्रधानमंत्री मोदी मिलेंगे तो क्‍या इस तरह की कोई बात होगी कि जो अमेरिका पीछे से डोर खींचने की कोशिश में लगा है, जो जानकारी हमें मिल रही है तो एक दो-टूक बात होगी कि आखिर अमेरिका स्‍थायी सदस्‍यता को लेकर चाहता क्‍या है।

आधिकारिक प्रवक्‍ता: आप बैकडोर से फिर यही सवाल पूछ रहे हैं कि क्‍या मुद्दे हैं। मैं फिर कह रहा हूँ कि अभी मैं प्रकाश नहीं डाल सकता हूँ कि क्‍या मुद्दे होंगे। जब मुलाकात होगी उसके बाद आपको पता लग जायेगा कि क्‍या मुद्दे discuss हुए। धन्‍यवाद।



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