HOUSTON – Describing the changing scenario of the Indian economy and the targets set by the government at the 'Howdy, Modi!' event here Sept. 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of cheap data prices in the country, the Goods and Services Tax and the target of a $5 trillion economy.
He also said that in the last five years, the country's GDP growth has in an unprecedented manner averaged around 7.5 percent.
Addressing the 50,000 strong Indian American community at the NRG Stadium here with President Donald Trump in the audience, Modi said: "Data is the new gold... The focus of Industry 4.0 is totally on data. It is India where data prices are the cheapest in the world and 1 GB data is available for 25-30 cents."
"Low-cost data is becoming the new identity of digital India, and is also redefining governance in the country," he said.
On the easing of the taxation system in India, the prime minister said that previously the web of taxes used to create obstacles for businesses in the country, but with the implementation of GST, the government has simplified the tax system.
He further noted that tax refunds have also become swifter and people receive refunds within 24 hours now, compared to 2-3 weeks previously.
"This time on August 31, in one day nearly 50 lakh people e-filed their income tax returns," Modi added.
He also talked about the inflation rate and growth and said that the country has entered a phase in which it is witnessing low inflation and low fiscal deficit along with high economic growth.
Describing India as one of the best FDI destinations, he said: "During 2014-2019, FDI inflow nearly doubled. The government recently eased FDI norms in single brand retail and also approved 100 percent FDI investment in coal mining and contract manufacturing."
The prime minister also mentioned that CEOs of the energy majors he met in the U.S. were happy about the recent announcement of cut in corporate tax in India.
"Energy sector CEOs are very happy and enthusiastic. Their feedback is that corporate tax cut has sent a positive message to the global business leaders along with domestic businesses. This decision will make India more competitive globally," he said.
Emphasizing that India has decided to become a $5 trillion economy, the prime minister said the country's journey towards a $5 trillion economy and the "strong" economic growth of the U.S. under the leadership of President Trump would add new wings to the possibilities and hopes of growth and prosperity.
He further hoped that his upcoming meetings with the American president would lead to "positive results.”
"I will have talks with President Trump in the next 2-3 days. I hope in these meetings too there will be positive results," he said.
Praising the U.S. president, Modi said: "President Trump calls me a tough negotiator, but he himself has mastered the 'art of the deal' and I am learning a lot from him."
Trump, while addressing the audience before Modi, said that the U.S. is on its way to increase exports to India.
"We are working to expand American exports to India, one of the fastest growing markets...We are committed to ensure that Indian people have access to the finest goods in the world, products stamped with the beautiful phrase 'Made in the USA'," he said.
He further said: "Yesterday we were thrilled to hear about Indian company Petronet's pledge to purchase up to 5 million tons of LNG per year from the U.S., which will lead to billions of dollars of LNG exports to India in the coming years."
Trump also noted that over the last one year, crude oil exports to India grew over 400 percent.
He also said that Indian companies are investing in the U.S. in an unprecedented manner and the U.S. welcomed it.
The U.S. and India are forging an "even stronger security partnership,” Trump said, with both sides set to conclude "several new defense deals very soon.”
U.S. defense sales to India have reached $18 billion in the past decade, he noted.
"We are looking forward to concluding several new defense deals very soon. There are lot of them in the works,” Trump said.
His remark comes amid reports of India being in the process of acquiring the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II from the U.S. to secure its airspace against aerial threats ranging from drones to ballistic missiles.
The U.S. is also in talks to offer an alternative to the Russian S-400 Triumf missile defense system to India.
He also said both sides are working together in space cooperation.
"We are creating the U.S. Space Force and working closely with India to join hands in space cooperation. In November the U.S. and India will demonstrate progress of our defense relationship, holding the first ever tri-service military exercise called Tiger Triumph. It's a good name, very good name," said Trump.
On trade relations, he said both sides are working to make their nations "even more prosperous than ever before.”
"The economic miracles are taking place… Indian companies are supplying tens of thousands of jobs across a range of industries. In 2018 JSW Steel announced it would invest $500 million to revitalize a shuttered steel plant."
"We welcome India's role in investment in our lone star state," he said, referring to Texas.
Referring to Indian investment in the U.S., he said: "India has never invested in the U.S. like it is doing today. And I want to say it's reciprocal, because we are doing the same thing in India."
Trump said the U.S. is working to expand American exports to India, one of the fastest growing markets.
"We are committed to ensuring that Indian people have access to the finest goods in the world, products stamped with Made in USA.”