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Hyper-selling India

Highlights

Where else would a state-level conclave attract the likes of the UN chief Ban-ki-Moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and other international personalities?

Where else would a state-level conclave attract the likes of the UN chief Ban-ki-Moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and other international personalities?

By hosting Pravasi Bharatiya Divas-2015, a national event to woo the Indian diaspora, and Vibrant Gujarat, a state-level event that has increasingly become international, one after the other, Gandhinagar has staked claims to be a major conference hub, breaking the virtual monopoly of metropolitan centres. And by making business and investment its pitch, it has compelled the attention of global economic forums. That it happens to be the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has made “Gujarat model” his political and economic plank, has only added its importance others would be envious of.

Where else would a state-level conclave attract the likes of the United Nations Secretary General Ban-ki-Moon, United States Secretary of State John Kerry and other international personalities? Of course, this is nothing new, Gujaratis can nonchalantly say, since ‘Vibrant’, a biennial event, is used to hosting big names, both national and international. Sections of India Inc. have used it, now as in the past, to announce major investments. For one, RIL, the flagship of the Reliance Group headed by Mukesh Ambani, has pledged investments worth Rs 1 lakh crore. Neither Ambani, nor his declarations are new for ‘Vibrant’ or for Gujarat. Modi’s hyper-selling India since he became PM and his growing love affair with the diaspora, as was evident from his rallies in New Jersey and Melbourne, besides the latest edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, have made Gujarat a magnet to entrepreneurs. Japanese companies alone hiked investments by 13 per cent in the last one year.

As CM, Modi welcomed US car makers even when Washington would not issue him a visa. Australian firms have inked pacts, one of them with Adani Group for gas exploration and for import. Even if a portion of these promised projects are set up and do take off, it would work wonders for any place. Modi has pointed to India having “low-cost and high quality manpower.” This is truer of Gujarat where labour unrest has been zero and people actually welcome industry. Remember the fireworks and flowers that greeted Tata’s Nano car project after it was unceremoniously ejected from West Bengal? The ‘Vibrant’ edition this year was preceded by Modi’s personal initiative – like getting Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Gujarat and announce investments – and making the policy for FDI more attractive.

FDI in construction has been liberalised, 100 per cent foreign investment has been allowed in railways, while the defence sector has been opened for FDI up to 49 percent and a similar level in the insurance sector. Unrelated to ‘Pravasi’ and ‘Vibrant’ events is a report that Gujarat is to have a plant to produce Russian Kalashnikov, the world’s most preferred gun for both governments and rebels. That a weapon system could be produced in the land of Mahatma Gandhi is a pointer that, rather than criticising or politicising, should be applauded and emulated by other states.

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