Gandhinagar, Jan 11: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who had recently blasted the Union government for its pessimistic outlook to economic development, ensured vibrancy and positiveness today at Vibrant Gujarat summit with the rich and mighty from the India Inc. speaking about the state's success story.
Leading the pack was a billionaire and India's richest man Mukesh Ambani. "In Narendra bhai, we have a leader with a grand vision... Gujarat has been a pioneer state in infrastructure giving it an innate advantage," said Mukesh Ambani, chairperson of Reliance Industries Ltd, at the start of the summit in Gandhinagar.
"We began from Gujarat and we come back here again and again to invest. We have committed investment of Rs 100,000 crore in Gujarat. We will expand our operations in Gujarat in Jamnagar and Hazira," said Ambani, adding that the Reliance is proud to be called a "Gujarati company".
His younger brother Anil Ambani, calling Modi 'king of kings' put him (Modi) in the league of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, said, "Let me attempt to paint another picture: Oct 2, 1869, Porbandar, Gujarat - the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the father of the nation Oct 31, 1875, Nariyal, Gujarat - the birth of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India's man of steel Dec 28, 1932, Chorwad, Gujarat - the birth of Dhirubhai Ambani, India's greatest entrepreneur and Sept 17, 1950, Vadnagar, Gujarat - the birth of Narendra Modi."
Not to be left behind, Ratan Tata, who seems to have come out of retirement, said, "Today, when investors look for locations to make investments, they would be looking for locations which are investor-friendly. Gujarat stands out distinctly in the country and the credit for it goes to Modi," he said amidst a thunderous applaud from the jam-packed audience.
The Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons Ltd has just stepped down as Chairman of the group. "Earlier, I had said that it would be stupid to not be in Gujarat. But I was only stupid that apart from the Tata Chemicals investment made before we were not here. But now Tata group has committed to invest or invested Rs 34000 crore here," he said.
Tata, whose dream car 'Nano' project was forced out of West Bengal and shifted to Sanand in Gujarat, said he hoped the state will continue to be "unique in providing the industry-friendly environment".
"Today, people are talking about China model of development in Gujarat but the day is not far when people will talk about Gujarat model of growth in China," said Anand Mahindra of the Mahindra and Mahindra group.
UK India Business Council (UKIBC) chair Patricia Hewitt, whose country ended decade-long boycott of the state imposed in the aftermath of 2002 communal riots in October last year, lauded Gujarat for having maintained a near double digit growth rate in the last ten years which was more than that of China.
Ron Sommers, who represented US India Business Council, called Gujarat's progress "stunning". "Progress of Gujarat is stunning. It has set a new benchmark not only in India but across other countries in the world because Chief Minister Narendra Modi has shown that progress trumps politics. Gujarat has achieved double digit growth because of stability and sustainability," he said.
Setting the tone for the summit, Modi spoke in English, indicating that he was addressing global audiences to come and invest in Gujarat. "Gujarat will now benchmark with best in the world. Phase 1 of development is over. We will begin phase 2 now," he said.
Basking in the recent election triumph, Modi stressed that the focus of Vibrant Gujarat 2013 was knowledge, technology and innovation. Rather than focusing on IT, Modi said the state would invest in environmental technology. He said the Gujarat growth model is way ahead for other developing nations since the state's development model is recognised internationally and replicated by other states.
"I reiterate that this event is not just about investments. It is not just about projects which give financial returns. It is about bringing positivity in economic environment."
The three-day Vibrant Gujarat 2013, partnered by Japan and Canada, is being attended by a number of businessmen and industrialists, including the who's who of India Inc., and delegates and diplomats from many countries.