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Political News

Vibrant Gujarat

by Bhupendra Gandhi

Modi attracts investment galore

At a hastily arranged news conference in Amdavad, Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, flanked by Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata Group and Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries and in the presence of Mr. Balaji Sadasivan, Minister for Trade and Industry from Singapore, announced their firm commitment to invest a mammoth sum of Rs 67,500 crores, approximately $100 billion in various projects, that include the energy sector, gas, oil and electricity generation. A record number of contracts, some 330 were already signed and sealed before the conference.

Gujarat, one of the states in the Indian Union, has a population of 60 million, the same as that of UK. It has 6% of the land mass but significantly 11% of the coast line, with oil and gas in abundance on the shallow sea bed as well as in the desert of Kutch.

Gujarat is one of the most industrialised states with 17% of the industrial output, with oil, gas and diamond industry leading the way. It also provides 20% of the total export which may double if vibrant Gujarat scheme comes to a successful conclusion.

Obviously it will take time. But most schemes will bear fruit within three to five years, as most schemes are already off the drawing board and in various stages of completion.

In fact the industrialists not only in India but all over the world are so impressed by the Modi administration’s efficiency and openness that, as many as twenty well established and leading businesses would like to make Gujarat their prime target for inward investment.

These illustrious names include Birla Group, ICICI Bank, Mafatlal Group, Jet Air, Vedanta Group and many more who would like to invest billions of rupees in agriculture, dairy, medical and religious tourism, textile, port development, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, financial sector, education, infrastructure, manufacture and IT sector. By far, the biggest investment will come from Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Group.

Addressing the gathered dignitaries and the press, Mukesh Ambani, a Gujarati himself said how proud he was visiting the city where he spent six years and took the first step on the road to acquiring his business acumen. It is time for Gujarat to aim high. It is not beyond her reach to achieve a growth rate of 15% to 20%.

Ratan Tata said that they already have their third largest Soda Ash plant in Gujarat and are in the process of constructing a 4000 megawatt power plant in the state. If it goes according to the plan, Gujarat will in fact become not the best developed state in the Indian Union but in the entire South East Asia. When the Congress party ruled Gujarat, they abolished English from the State Schools while sending their own children to private English-medium schools; thus trying to preserve their elite status but depriving Gujarat a well educated work force needed by IT sector. This was the worse period in the history of Gujarat. Gujarat has missed out in a big way but the trend has been reversed during the last ten years and English is now being taught in all state run primary and secondary schools. It is only a matter of time before Gujarat will have a large number of highly educated young people who are fluent not only in English but also in French, Spanish and German. China has embarked on a similar policy and will have the highest number of English speaking people in the world in less than two decades.

With totalitarian government controlling all aspect of life in China where planning permission can be granted in a day and plans approved within a week, a high rising tower block, a factory complex can be completed in three months. China has immense advantage over India and all democratic nations throughout the world. In a cut throat business environment, democracy seems to be a luxury and hindrance to rapid economic progress. The only way India can fight back is to have a better, more educated and absolutely dedicated workforce. There are no more dedicated workers than Indians particularly Gujaratis, Sindhis and Punjabis.

In March 2005, the short sighted Bush administration denied Modi the visa, under pressure from Pakistan and some misguided Muslim organizations. It is needless to say that Britain, under the thumb of Big Brother Bush withheld the customary welcome enjoyed by the politicians of Modi’s stature who cancelled his planned visit to UK.

Two years on, the stupidity of Bush and Blair government is apparent; and at the recently held Gujarat Global Investors’ Summit, the “Vibrant Gujarat” with shining, red-hot economy, under the stewardship of CM Modi has attracted investors like a honey bee to a nectar rich flower.

When the West was reluctant to welcome Modi, he took the initiative of turning his attention to East, visiting China, Japan, Singapore and Russia who were more than willing to lay the red carpet for this special guest who has an amazing gift for administration.

Modi’s 2007 itinerary include a visit to South Africa which has a vast Indian community, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Philippines and Australia, whose Prime Minister is a great admirer of the economic progress made by Gujarat with a 10% growth rate. Even the Rajiv Gandhi Institute to gauge economic progress and good governance, has put Gujarat at the top as the best governed state in the Indian Union. A leading publication has declared Modi as the best CM for the third time, the accolade no other CM has managed before. Even some American politicians have acknowledged the rapid economic development taking place in Gujarat. Theye are most impressed, not only at the rapid economic development and the construction of the Narmada dam, on the drawing board since 1948; but also at the modernization of Gujarat and how the new Gujarat is taking shape from the ashes of the worst earthquake to hit the state in recent memory that killed some 30,000 people.

The reconstruction work which is now more or less complete, has taken just three years. While Britain built, on average some one hundred miles of motorways in this country every year, Gujarat alone is building some five hundred miles of motorway every year. No wonder it has one of the best infrastructure in South East Asia.

Politicians, NRIs and industrialists, after their visit to Gujarat and meeting the dynamic chief minister, come under his spell and become the goodwill ambassadors for the state where the only criteria for personal advancement are good education and work ethics.

I can not help but wonder that if all the states in India were as efficient and corruption free as Gujarat, where Bharat would stand in the development league.! I am sure the influential Parliamentary Friends of India group (both Labour and Conservative) are aware of the tremendous economic progress Gujarat is making. Let us make sure that we become part of the vibrant Gujarat and share in her success.

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