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Economy Mar 29, 2013

McDonald’s is Modi’s US visa

By Anant Rangaswami

The Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention argues, broadly, that two countries that McDonald's does business in do not go to war.

The argument is that when the countries reach a certain level of economic development and when they have a middle class big enough to make business sense for McDonald's to operate in, they are too intricately involved in the global economy for them to be immune from pressure from the countries that house the companies that do business there.

McDonald's has four branches in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The presence of McDonald's in Ahmedabad suggests that the state has reached a level of economic development which can support businesses such as McDonald's - and other American companies that seek to tap into the consumers in Gujarat.

AP

AP

How, then, can the US be at 'war' with Gujarat? How long can they deny Narendra Modi a visa when American businesses want to take advantage of the potential of the state?

"A US delegation comprising Republican lawmakers and business leaders has invited Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to visit the country, even as the administration has denied him a visa since 2005 for his alleged role in communal riots in the state," says The Economic Times.

"We have invited him to come over to the US and share with us the work that he has done," said Aaron Schock, the Republican member of the House of Representatives from Illinois, who led the 18-member delegation that held an hour-long meeting with Modi in the state capital on Thursday, the paper added.

This time around, it will not be a Wharton requesting the US administration to facilitate a visa for Modi. It will be members who were part of this delegation - and members of the US corporations who want the opportunity to do business with Gujarat and Gujaratis.

At a time when the government at the Centre dithers, delays and obfuscates, Gujarat is like a breath of fresh air from the perspective of a potential investor. Power is plentiful, infrastructure is growing - and case studies are encouraging, to say the least. Who has not heard of the shifting of the Tata Nano project from West Bengal to Gujarat? And which industrialist does not have a similar tale to tell, even if they haven't shifted out of the original state of choice? Even if they haven't shifted to Gujarat, industrialists such as Ratan Tata, Cyrus Mistry, Anand Mahindra, Adi Godrej, Chanda Kochhar, Uday Kotak, Kumar Mangalam Birla and Shashi Ruia, to name a few, were all seen at Vibrant Gujarat, all making it clear that Gujarat was the go-to destination for business.

When leading Indian businessmen think that doing business with Gujarat and Narendra Modi is okay, why should America Inc lose out on the opportunity, and why should Narendra Modi continue to be shunned?

And, of course, Gujarat has McDonald's.

And if they have McDonald's, to stretch the Golden Arches theory of conflict management: no place that has a McDonald's can be at loggerheads with America and American companies.

by Anant Rangaswami

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