Jagdish Sheth, the man reportedly entrusted by management guru Philip Kotler to present the ‘Presidential’ award to Narendra Modi, has been a long-time admirer of the Prime Minister. In 2014, shortly after BJP came to power, he told India Today, “The CEOs of the world should take lessons from Modi. In Gujarat, he has performed like a CEO under the pulls of democracy”.
On January 14, several cabinet ministers tweeted that Narendra Modi has received the ‘first-ever’ Philip Kotler award.
Sheth, an article on the NaMo app said, was deputed by Philip Kotler to present the Prime Minister the award owing to his own ‘ill-health’. After a series of reports published by The Wire questioning the nature of the ‘award’, Kotler, who has said that the final decision to award Modi the Presidential award refers to Sheth as a ‘life-long’ friend in this interview. Kotler and Sheth have edited and written the forewords for various of each other’s publications
Eighty-one-year-old Sheth, a professor at Emory University, is also engaged as a consultant with various multinational companies ranging from Tata Group to Wipro, and has also advised several departments of the United States government.
In 2013, days before the Gujarat government’s ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ summit, Sheth addressed a meet of the state’s industry leaders, senior bureaucrats, ministers and the chief minister Modi. A few days later, he also participated in the Vibrant Gujarat summit and shared his ideas on a ‘Global Gujarat’. In January 2013, Modi tweeted, “Attended insightful talk by Prof Jagdish Sheth! He spoke on Guj’s advantages that make it a global business destination.”
The marketing guru, who was one of the people who helped set up the Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata, released his autobiography a year later and the book was unveiled by Narendra Modi who had just taken charge as the Prime Minister of the country.
On several occasions, Sheth has lauded the PM’s initiatives. In an op-ed published last year in the Financial Express, he underlined that Modi has highlighted the importance of MSMEs in various forums. He then goes on to explain how e-commerce and digitisation has made MSMEs a part of the larger economy and they are no more isolated.
“More importantly, this “hot money” was used to pay politicians and bureaucrats as well as for funding illegal activities. Furthermore, wealth generated in India began to exit the country through the Hawala transactions. The country was starved of its own wealth to be invested for further domestic growth,” the article said, paraphrasing Seth’s lecture.
The article reports Sheth as saying, “This demonetization and cashless economy will bring more transparency and will result in attracting foreign investments from advanced nations who use less cash and more credit cards, checks, or online payments.”
Sheth also lauded the Prime Minister’s “Make in India” initiative in the same address. “Ironically, if Make in India initiative is focused on manufacturing, it will succeed in services such as IT services, research and development, engineering, and academic, legal, and other professional services because India has a very large pool of talented people in professional services. It will become a global hub for services. A recent example of this capability is the successful launch of 120 satellites in one single launch, clearly demonstrating that “India’s got talent’,” the article states.