The who's who of industry lavished praise on Narendra Modi and promised him more investment at the Vibrant Gujarat summit today. The Chief Minister of Gujarat uses the biennial event to showcase his marketing savvy and drive investment in his state.
Thousands of crores in investments for Gujarat were pledged today by many leading industrialists. But every Vibrant Gujarat summit - initiated by Mr Modi in 2003 to attract investment after communal violence and a huge earthquake tore through the state in 2001 - has been attended by many corporate officials who promise huge investments every time. So far, only a fraction has seen the light of day.
Of the Rs. 67.8 lakh crore in investment proposed at the 2009 event, just 8.5 per cent had been spent as of November 2011, according to state government data.
At the end of the day, Mr Modi tweeted, "Vibrant Gujarat 2013 is not only about investments, but about bringing positivity and global and local inclusiveness in our economic processes."
At the event, Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries, said he was proud of his Gujarat roots and that "in Narendra Bhai, we have a leader with a grand vision". Mr Ambani said his company had "committed over Rs. 1 lakh crore; in the next three years we will invest this back in Gujarat expanding Jamnagar and Hazira." He also promised to create next generation mobile broadband infrastructure, second to none in the world, he said, to "provide employment to lakhs of Gujaratis."
Mr Ambani also announced a Rs. 500-crore university that will be set up in collaboration with the Gujarat government.
Ratan Tata said Gujarat would continue to attract investment because of its unwillingness to be the second best. And that the Tata group had committed to investing another Rs. 34,000 crore in the state. Mr Modi had lured Tata Motors to the state in 2008 after the company's plans to build a factory for its low-cost Nano car were thwarted by farmer protests in West Bengal.
"(I) hope the world sees Gujarat as an outstanding example of what can be done," Mr Tata said at the summit today.
Maruti Suzuki chairman R.C. Bhargava said Gujarat would now be the car-maker's "second home", and that it was a "better state than anywhere else in the country for Maruti to grow". India's largest automaker has signed a memorandum of understanding for a new plant in the state, and will start work before March 2013, he said. The plant will manufacture cars from Gujarat by 2015.
Private sector lender HDFC Bank said it would open 250 branches in the next three years in the state because, its managing director Aditya Puri said, it "believes Gujarat will continue to grow at the same levels".
The paeans continued and the pledges. Anil Ambani acknowledged "respected elder brother Mukesh Bhai" in his opening remarks before going on to call Mr Modi "a king among kings". He said the chief minister's skills had "acted as a huge magnet for investors and entrepreneurs from India and across the world in the past decade".
The Essar Group, which is investment of more than $20 billion (Rs. 1,09,481 crore) in the state so far, said it would invest another Rs. 14,000 crore in the ports sector; a move that was expected to create 15,000 jobs, it said. And the Adani group said it would create 5,000 jobs through additional investments.
The Jubliant group plans to invest Rs. 1,300-1,500 crore in the next few years. It had committed to developing a special economic zone in Baruch six years ago and has invested Rs. 2,000 crore in the state so far.
Engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro has invested Rs. 8,000 crore in the state and employs 5,000 at its Hazira unit.
The best -- and the most unique -- approbation came from Anand Mahindra, the chairman and managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra.
"There are very frequent comparisons between Gujarat and China. But I think a day will come when we won't talk of the China model in Gujarat but the Gujarat model in China."
"Earlier, Gujarat was the gateway to the globe from India. Now it is becoming the global gateway to India," Mr Modi tweeted.
With inputs from Thomson Reuters