After hearing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make in India" pitch, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced a change of plans, saying that his electric vehicle and battery company will now come to India "as soon as it is humanly possible". Musk told reporters in conversations following his meeting with Modi on Tuesday, "He really cares about India because he's pushing us to make significant investments in India, which is something that we intend to do and we're just trying to figure out the right timing."
"India has more promise than any large country in the world"
It was a change of plans for the mercurial Musk who had earlier refused to consider manufacturing in India unless India lowered tariffs for imported Teslas to be sold in India. Modi "really wants to do the right thing for India," he said. Modi wants to make sure that the advantage from investments "accrues to India's advantage, which is, you know, obviously, that's the job," he added. India has more "promise than any large country in the world," he said.
Musk: I am a fan of (PM) Modi
If Tesla comes to India, it will be following the pattern of companies like Apple diversifying their manufacturing from China because of geopolitical and supply chain issues. Musk gushed about his "fantastic meeting with the Prime Minister" and declared, "I am a fan of Modi."
Musk: Will visit India next year
He said that Modi had invited him to visit India and that he would next year. Musk added that India has tremendous potential for "the three pillars of sustainable energy future" -- a goal of Modi. These were power generation using solar and wind energy, deploying batteries to store it, and having electric vehicles that run on it, the Tesla CEO said. "The interesting thing you will find is that this is a lower-cost way to go as well," he added.
Another Musk venture is Starlink which uses low-orbit satellites to provide broadband internet connections. He said that he was "hopefully looking forward" to bringing it to India. Asked about former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's assertion that the Indian government had asked the company to shut down a large number of accounts, Musk said bluntly that a company "doesn't have a choice but to obey local governments".
"If we don't obey local government laws, then we will get shut down. So the best we can do is really to hew close to the law in any given country," he added. It is impossible for us to do more than that (or) we will be blocked and our people will be arrested, Musk said.
He added that there are "different rules and regulations, different forms of government, so what we'll do, the best to provide the freest speech that is possible under the law".
PM Modi also met Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Modi met earlier with Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the nemesis of Musk. The author and thinker who expounds on the quirks of history and how they impact the world. Taleb and Musk have been engaged in twitterfights, and Taleb took a dig at Musk on his own Twitter: "Elon Musk, while attacking me on Twitter, was next (in line to meet Modi) but I did not run into him."
After Modi's meeting with Taleb, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Baghchi tweeted, "PM lauded Prof Taleb for his contribution in bringing complex ideas of risk and fragility in popular conversations. Highlighted India's growing start-up ecosystem and the risk-taking abilities of India's young entrepreneurs."