Top industrialists and diplomats attend the Vibrant Gujarat summit, heap praises on his hat trick victory

The sixth edition of Vibrant Gujarat summit was formally inaugurated here on Friday with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), Essar Group and Tata Sons committing investments of Rs. 1.49 lakh crore. While Maruti promised to make the State its second home, the who’s who of India lined up to shower lavish praise on Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his December election victory.

RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani promised investments of Rs. 1 lakh crore, Shashi Ruia of Essar committed Rs. 15,000 crore, Tata’s chairman emeritus Ratan Tata said his company has invested or committed to invest Rs. 34,000 crore and Maruti chairman R.C. Bhargava claimed Gujarat was better than any other State for his company to invest in.

However, the Chief Minister said this year’s biennial Vibrant Gujarat meet stresses on global tie-ups in education, development of skills, research and development and harnessing technological advancements in boosting economic sentiment.

Instead of attracting investments to knowledge-sharing through collaboration, the State government’s shift of focus seems to have spawned from poor implementation of investments committed in earlier summits, the discouraging global economic scenario and Mr. Modi’s reported national aspirations.

Holding forth on recession in global economies, Mr. Modi maintained Gujarat had defied it to emerge as the “global gateway to India.” When India’s growth slowed down, Gujarat developed a unique “economic resilience,” the Chief Minister said as he formally threw open the summit.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s potential Prime Ministerial candidate said the “Gujarat model of development” was a global torchbearer. “Many of our projects have been recognised nationally, many are being replicated in other States. We aim at projects that are innovative, ambitious and futuristic. The first phase of our developmental effort is over. Now, we are going for a more robust, dynamic and modernized Gujarat,” Mr. Modi said, adding that the State will have world-class infrastructure in all the spheres.

He said Gujarat’s growth in the small and medium enterprises sector last year was 85 per cent, as against India’s 19 per cent and that the State alone generated 72 per cent of all jobs in the country. Mr. Modi added that Gujarat had the distinction of having the least number of unemployed people.

“I reiterate that this event is not just about investments or about projects which give financial returns. It is about bringing positivity in the economic environment in the country,” he said.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Ambani said his group planned to invest on the expansion of capacities at its Jamnagar and Hazira operations. He claimed Reliance would provide the next generation of mobile broadband services across Gujarat and set up a world-class education centre in the State “to strive to produce Nobel Laureates of the future.”

Essar Chairman Mr. Ruia said his group would invest in the port sector and create 15,000 new jobs.

The event, which is being partnered by Japan and Canada, is being attended by a large number of businessmen, industrialists, delegates and diplomats from many countries. More investment proposals are expected before the summit ends on Sunday.

British High Commissioner to India Sir James Bevan, among others, heaped praise on Mr. Modi for his hat-trick electoral victory. Mr. Bevan, whose country recently withdrew the visa ban on Mr. Modi, said, “The U.K. and Gujarat are natural partners. Gujarat diaspora in the U.K. is the largest in the world.” He said he hailed from Leceister, which has the largest Gujarati population. In that sense he was a “son of the soil”, he said.

Anil Ambani, Chairman of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, set the tone by including Mr. Modi among the illustrious sons of Gujarat — Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Dhirubhai Ambani. He said, “Narendrabhai is a leader among leaders, a king among kings,” and that he practiced Gandhi’s teaching of “Be the change yourself that you want others to follow.”

“Like my father, Narendrabhai also dreams with his eyes open. Like Arjuna, he has clarity of vision and target,” he said, and asked the audience to give Mr. Modi a standing ovation as he concluded.

His elder brother, Mukesh Ambani, hailed Mr. Modi for his “grand vision and determination, for translating his dreams into reality.”

CII president Adi Godrej said the Chief Minister had lent stability and continuity to the government that made the State an ideal investment destination. Anand Mahindra of Mahindra and Mahindra lauded Mr. Modi and the Gujaratis saying they are ahead for they were not scared of failures.