Arun M. Kumar is Chairman & CEO of KPMG India. He formerly served as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets in the Obama Administration, from March 2014 to January 2017. Before his stint with the U.S. Government, he was a Partner and member of the Board of Directors at KPMG US. Kumar is the author of two books of poetry, Plain Truths (2010), and Mantram Beach (2020), and co-editor Kerala’s Economy: Crouching Tiger, Sacred Cows (2007). He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, New York. He is a founding member of Indiaspora and serves on its Board.
It is a pleasure to write a tribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his 70th birthday.
The Prime Minister’s commitment and dedication to the advancement of India are total and inspiring. He brings a modern mind, and out of the box thinking, to the enormous responsibilities that he bears.
I have had the privilege of seeing him in meetings, large and small, on a number of occasions including some historic ones. In all the occasions, he has projected both the energy that is critical to successful leadership and the power of strong ideas. At Madison Square Garden, in New York, in September 2014, in front of an audience of over 20,000 people, he promised to elevate India in the Ease of Doing Business rankings to the first fifty from its then low score. Over the subsequent years, India has made steady progress on that front.
When Prime Minister Modi visited Silicon Valley the following year, I had the honor of helping organize a round table for him, with chief executive officers of renewable energy companies. He listened with complete attention to the dozen or so CEOs, as well as to leading academics including a Nobel Prize winner, and then responded to each one of them in detail and with deep insight. The attendees were overwhelmed by the depth of interest and the strength of commitment that they saw in the Prime Minister.
I was in Houston for the Howdy Modi rally that was held with President Trump. The confident way the Prime Minister led President Trump to walk around the capacity crowd in a major sports event center was very impressive. It was an imaginative way of signaling the strength of the relationship between the two countries.
Prime Minister Modi is a big thinker who sees important issues across the spectrum of the country’s needs – whether for sanitation and toilets or for bandwidth and connectivity in villages. He is not fazed by the scale of the challenge; all his important programs seek the economic uplift of millions of people. He believes in speed of execution and has continuously set time-bound targets.
India needs vision, energy and speed to meet the aspirations of its people. Best wishes to the Prime Minister as he works hard towards that goal, to improve the living standards of the people of India. In so doing, Prime Minister Modi also aims to advance the country’s position on the global stage where, with its civilizational values, India can be a force for good.