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#RockStar: ‘Come and invest at home’, Modi tells delirious NRI’s Down Under

Senior officials from India’s opposition Congress party this weekend questioned the authenticity of the thousands of expats who have flocked to catch a glimpse of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Australia.

However, the newly-elected premier has built a reputation for being unperturbed about questions surrounding his popularity, particularly among Non-Resident Indians.

Mr Modi was greeted by yet another mammoth crowd at a sports stadium in Sydney on Monday, with many of the supporters traveling hundreds of miles on a train named the ‘Modi Express’, frantically cheering the Indian leader.

"I know that behind this affection lie expectations," Modi told the excited crowd. "We want to create the India you are dreaming of."

Modi's appearance at the 21,000-seat Allphones Arena, which hosted the Rolling Stones last week, underscored the rock star status he enjoys among some Indians abroad.

He promised lifetime visas to people of Indian origin, repeating an offer he made to expatriates in the United States that would seek to strengthen cultural and business ties between overseas Indians and their home country.

One audience member told Reuters that many found Mr Modi “very inspiring” and “made a lot of sense”.

About 300,000 Indians live in Australia, but trade between the two countries stands at around $15 billion a year, or just a tenth of that between Australia and China.

Modi urged overseas Indians to boost investment at home, reprising an appeal made elsewhere, including the United States, where he sold out New York's Madison Square Garden in September.

He took office in May vowing to create jobs and ignite the Indian economy after years of sluggish growth, launching signature initiatives such as 'Make in India' and 'Clean India'.

Modi often reminds voters of his humble roots as the son of a railway-station tea vendor, in contrast to the privileged circumstances of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has dominated Indian politics since independence from Britain in 1947.

Australia is emerging as a key source of thermal coal for India's growing number of electricity users, as they give up older fuels such as wood and kerosene.

Indian trade and infrastructure conglomerate Adani Enterprises has signed a pact for a loan of up to $1 billion from the State Bank of India for a $6 billion Australian coal mine, rail and port project.

Another Indian conglomerate, GVK, and Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart, have won an environmental permit for a second coal mine in Australia, costing $10 billion.

But Modi still has some way to go in winning over potential investors.

"He is expecting people to contribute," said Santosh Kashid, who migrated to Sydney 10 years ago.

"However, unless you make India a place to live and work it won't be possible to attract people back home."

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#ArticleOfFaith: Modi vows to bring back Black Money

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday declared he was committed to bring back so-called ‘Black Money’, funds illegally deposited in banks outside the country to avoid tax. In his second radio address to the nation since coming to power in May, Modi said the money stashed abroad illegally belonged to …

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#MobRule: Veteran journalist Rajdeep Sardesai attacked by Modi supporters in New York

Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the rock star treatment when he arrived in New York this weekend.

However, his detractors - even those who have criticized his politics and policies in the past - didn't receive the same warmth at the home of the greatest democracy on the planet.

Veteran journalist Rajdeep Sardesai was subjected to shocking taunts by a group of Modi supporters outside New York's iconic Madison Square Garden before one member of what Sardesai called a "frenzied mob" physically assaulted the respected TV anchor.

Sardesai, the Oxford-educated former editor-in-chief of India's IBN 18 Network, later tweeted: "Great crowd at Madison Square Garden! Except a few idiots who still believe abuse is a way of proving their machismo!"

He added, "Glad we caught the idiots on cam.  Only way to shame the mob is to show them".

The video footage of the incident has been widely circulated on YouTube and Twitter.

According to reports supporters of Mr Modi had become enraged after a tweet by Sardesai alluded to the Prime Minister staying at the same hotel as controversial Indian industrialist Gautam Adani.

Mr Adani, the billionaire owner of mining and ports giant The Adani Group, is said to have enjoyed favourable terms on a number of infrastructure projects in Mr Modi's home state of Gujarat in return for supporting Mr Modi's prime ministerial campaign.

Fellow journalist Achint Sharma took to his Facebook page to describe what occurred: "The mob called Rajdeep by names and hurled the choicest of words towards him.  When I tried to shield the fellow journalist, I realised, that I became a target as well.

"This went on for good 10-15 minutes. The NYPD was right there, but won't blame them for not knowing what was going on in the middle of that crowd of 50 odd people. The cameraman had to ensure his equipment was safe, so was trying his best he could, to fend off a few people who tried to come closer to Rajdeep. This went on for good 10 minutes.

Despite my repeated requests to stay away from Rajdeep, the mob continued to shout pro-Modi slogans right in front of his face to instigate him. A particular person wearing glasses, and once again in an orange attire, almost shoved his phone into the cameraman's lens to which Rajdeep protested.

Luckily, fellow scribes Mohit Roy Sharma and Bhupendra Chaubey arrived at the scene. Three of us literally made a human chain, to get Rajdeep out of that place.

Yes, you have every right to be a supporter, but let's not mix a fan with a fanatic. Learn to respect other people. Learn to respect to earn respect. Just a few minutes ago, the Prime Minster delivered a lovely speech about peace and how India is a great democracy. But you guys defy all logic."

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#VIDEO: ‘Rockstar’ Modi at Madison Square Gardens. Promises OCI card-holders lifetime visas.

It was an entrance reminiscent of a prize-fighter entering the ring for a multi-million dollar bout or a legendary rock star returning to the stage for a last hurrah.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, once banned from stepping foot on US soil over anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat, appeared at New York's iconic Madison Square Garden on Sunday and was greeted by thousands of people and a glitzy show of lights, lasers and slogans.

Mr Modi delivered a triumphal address to the packed audience, which included a large contingent of Muslims, at a venue that has previously played host to the likes of the Beatles and Rolling Stones.

The Prime Minister urged the wealthy and successful Indian Diaspora community to join his movement for the development of India.

"The Indian-American community has played a big role in changing the way the world views India – from a nation of snake-charmers, to people who are adept at working the electronic mouse," he said.

"A government alone cannot achieve development for the whole country, but it can be done if the public were to participate in the development work," Modi said.

His speech came ahead of a first meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, who has described the Indo-American relationship as "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st Century."

Members of the 3.2 million-strong Indian diaspora, cheered and chanted "Modi, Modi!" during his 70-minute address in Hindi at Madison Square Garden, where they made up one of the largest crowds seen in the United States for a foreign leader.

On Saturday, Modi appeared before some 60,000 people at the Global Citizen Festival in New York's Central Park, where performers including Jay Z and Sting backed a campaign to end global poverty and bring essentials such as sanitation to all - an effort the Indian leader is pushing at home.

On Sunday, Modi drew an especially loud cheer when he made a long-awaited announcement that those holding cards showing they were of Indian origin would be granted lifetime visas to India.

"No government has done anything like this for us so far," said Jayashree Iyer, a New Jersey resident who had come with her family to hear Modi speak.

Her two daughters would not now have to keep renewing their visas, said Iyer, who has been in the United States for four years.

India's U.S. diaspora makes up only about one percent of the U.S. population, but it is growing fast, highly educated and increasingly influential, including leaders of government agencies and high-tech corporations such as Microsoft, where India-born Satya Nadella became CEO this year.

Many Indian-Americans have embraced Modi and his pro-business message and hope his visit will show India's importance not only in the United States but in the wider world too.

At Madison Square Garden were more than 30 members of the U.S. Congress hoping for expanded business and political ties with India's 1.2 billion people as a result of reforms Modi has pledged.

It was a far cry from 2005, when the 64-year-old former chief minister of Gujarat was denied a U.S. visa over rioting in his home state that killed more than 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, three years before.

Modi, who denies wrongdoing, has been exonerated by an Indian Supreme Court investigation.

However, the issue has not been forgotten and Modi's U.S. trip had an awkward start on Friday after a little-known human rights group filed a lawsuit against him in New York, alleging that he failed to stop the Gujarat riots.

Back in Gujarat at the weekend, authorities arrested at least 40 people after late-night clashes between Hindus and Muslims in the city of Vadodara.

Modi's May election triumph was driven largely by his vow to revive the economy after years of sub-par growth.

On Monday, Modi will meet U.S. corporate leaders, including those of Google IBM, GE, Goldman Sachs and Boeing, in a bid to lure fresh foreign investment.

However, the U.S. business lobby has yet to be convinced by his reform rhetoric and has called on Obama to press the Indian leader to remove barriers to fair trade.

U.S. officials have played down the possibility of big-ticket announcements during Modi's visit, but they are hoping it will lay the groundwork for closer long-term ties with a country Washington sees as a key counterbalance in Asia to an increasingly assertive China.

U.S. weapons makers are watching closely for signs of a closer strategic relationship with the United States, which has proposed a host of new defense cooperation projects.

Sources familiar with the matter said last week that India is expected to choose US-made naval helicopters in a deal worth over $1 billion and that a decision could come during Modi's visit.

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#RedCarpet: Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveils ‘Make In India’ campaign

The 'Made in China' label plastered on everything from iPhones to bubble blowers may soon become less ubiquitous if Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has his way.

Mr Modi was front and centre at an event in New Delhi on Thursday as he unveiled 'Make in India', an ambitious new program aimed at making India the world's next big manufacturing hub.

Addressing some of the country's wealthiest individuals - many of them basking in the glow of being named to Forbes magazine's annual list of India's richest - Mr Modi promised a raft of measures that would help transform his country into a centre for high-tech manufacturing, promising better measures for companies seeking clearances as well as better logistical systems for potential investors.

Mr Modi acknowledged that the trust between the government and corporate sector had been eroded and promised to put that right.

"We do not want any industrialist being forced to leave India.  A trust was broken -- that when a policy will be changed, when will the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) come.

"This is what I heard from all you.  The biggest issue is trust.  Why don't we trust each other? I want to change that."

Mr Modi said he was saddened to see scores of Indians leaving the country seeking greener pastures abroad and said that 'Make In India' would entice them as well as foreign investors back.

"After what we have done and what I hear from you, I don't think I need to assure you any further on 'Make in India'.

A day before the unveiling, government officials revealed new steps to make it easier for foreign businesses to start operations in India, including online license applications whilst the validity of licenses have also been extended to three years from the previous 12 months.

"Make in India is not a slogan but a mission to be accomplished with a single-minded commitment", said Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The manufacturing sector makes up just 15% of India's vast economy.  The government aims to raise that figure to 25%.

The new campaign was duly applauded by key industrialists with Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry calling it a "timely opportunity to make India truly global".

India's richest individual, Reliance Industries honcho Mukesh Ambani said: "Today we commit ourselves to the 'Make in India' movement that was given to us by our beloved prime minister. 

Mr Modi's mission is a gargantuan one given that key ingredients for manufacturing - in particular infrastructure and energy provision - remain in a shambolic state in many parts of India.

Add to that the keenness of the far more efficient Chinese government to safeguard its country's reputation as the world's factory floor.

Just as Mr Modi was revealing the snazzy new lion logo of the Make In India campaign, the Chinese government unveiled a slew of new tax concessions for companies in the manufacturing sector aimed at encouraging high-tech imports and the establishment of research and development facilities.

Under the new campaign China will use tax breaks to encourage enterprises to upgrade their equipment and increase R&D efforts to improve the manufacturing industry.

According to reports, the new measures from Beijing will be particularly beneficial for the aviation, biotechnology and electronics sectors.

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