Gujarat welcomes healthy competition among states

Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani speaks to Urban Update on the significance of Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit and development imperatives for improved future for the citizens

Vijay Rupani, CM Gujarat

This was the first Vibrant Gujarat Summit under your leadership. How will you rate the success of the Summit?

The journey of Vibrant Gujarat began with an objective of re-establishing Gujarat as an investment destination. Under the leadership of Shri Narendra Modiji, we achieved this objective. Gujarat received USD 6 billion worth of FDI between 2000 and 2010 and over USD 7.2 billion worth of FDI in the last five years. This has made Gujarat one of the top 5 FDI recipients in India.

The theme for the 8th Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit was Connecting India to the World, and we have achieved this objective as well. During this summit, students, academicians, researchers and members from R&D institutions from across the country and the globe participated in the interactive Nobel Dialogue event with 9 Nobel Laureates. Moreover, four Heads of Government and over thirty Cabinet and Chief Ministers from across the globe participated in this edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit. Also, regulators and policy makers from across the country participated in an interactive session on ease of doing business.

More than 25,000 strategic investment intentions/MoUs were signed during this edition of the Summit, which was also higher than ever before. Also, for the first time this Summit had 12 Partner Countries, which is the highest ever. I am happy to share that both global and Indian investors are looking at Gujarat with renewed optimism and enthusiasm. I am sure that all of this will go a long way in incremental investment and employment in Gujarat.

The purpose of a Summit like this is to attract investment and create jobs for locals. This is a two way process. First, investors look for conducive atmosphere for business and another availability of skilled manpower in the region. How Gujarat is ahead in this domain from other states?

As per a study by Department for Industrial Policy & Promotion, Government of India and the World Bank, Gujarat bagged top rank in Ease of Doing Business Index of 2015. In addition, a study by National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) in a study that was also supported by British High Commission, ranked Gujarat as the top performing state in terms of ‘investment potential’. I am sure that these are indications reflecting the competitive advantage of Gujarat. Gujarat has all the attributes that are conducive for businesses to grow and prosper – such as availability of 24 X 7 power, state-wide gas and water grid, 2 international airports, robust road and rail network, 48 major and minor ports and other supporting infrastructure.

Gujarat is a policy driven state. Over the last 3 years, more than 16 policies have been announced by the state across sectors such as Aerospace & Defence, IT & ITeS, Electronics, Textiles, Renewable Energy and Tourism. Moreover, one of the key objectives of this summit is to attract investment, so as to create jobs for locals across several sectors.

How do you think more business in the state will result in improving living conditions of the people in cities and villages? Many reports suggest that Gujarat does not fare good on human development index and other health parameters.

Business investment in state has a ripple effect on per-capita income of the people, and it also leads to improvement of purchasing power of citizens. It also leads to development of various amenities in cities and villages, while also creating job opportunities for citizens. Gujarat is doing much better in terms of HDI and other health parameters. We have taken lot of new initiatives which directly relate to improvement in HDI like Chiranjeevi Yojana, Mukhya Mantri Amrutam Yojana, Bal Sakha Yojana, Vanbandhu Yojana, Sagar Khedu Yojana and UWIN Card Yojana. These schemes have helped over a period of time in improving HDI and health parameters across the state.

Smart cities are in the trend. Please elaborate on the lessons learned from a township like GIFT near Ahmedabad? What can other states and city governments learn from such projects? Are such cities inclusive in nature? 

The future of urban India lies in smart cities and Gujarat has planned smart cities at the very beginning of this century. We have conceptualized, planned and implemented smart cities concept for e.g. GIFT City, Dholera Smart City. Planning is the basis of any smart city. It should include joint efforts and feedback by all stakeholders concerned. The planning should be holistic and inclusive, and there should be special emphasis on covering all sections of the society under the ambit of a self sustainable smart city concept.

There are a number of MoUs signed during the summit. All of them do not realize into actual investments. How many of them you are expecting to realize this year?

It is important to understand that MoUs relate to various sectors such as urban development, infrastructure, large scale industries and so on and so forth. Each sector has its unique implementation schedule / ramp up period. It will be prudent to see realization of MoUs from a long term perspective rather than taking a yearly view on realization. I am happy to share that of all the MoUs signed in the last seven VG summits, more than 65% are either commissioned or under implementation.

The reason for asking this question was that doubts have been raised over the figures provided by the state government.  In terms of capital inflow due to the creation of new private companies, in 2011-12, Gujarat came only 5th behind Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil nadu and West Bengal. Even later situation has remained the same.  So, is Gujarat really a preferred destination for new entrepreneurs? So will you still claim that Gujarat is a preferred investment destination?

Looking at just one statistic of 2011-12 may not give the right picture. If we look at FDI statistics for instance, Gujarat received 7.2 billion USD worth of FDI from 2011 to 2016, as against FDI of USD 6 billion from 2000 to 2010. In addition, if you look at the Industrial Entrepreneur Memorandum (IEM) figures of the last five years, Gujarat ranks among the top 2 both in terms of IEM filings and implementation. This clearly reflects Gujarat’s position as a preferred investment destination.

In terms of per capita income, Gujarat fares worse coming in a poor 9th in the country which means an average person in Gujarat earns lesser than his counterparts in 8 other states. How will you justify holding a summit like this and how is it contributing to a common man’s life?

In relation with other states that have a similar geographical area like Gujarat, I am confident that you will find Gujarat among the top 5 states in terms of per capita income.

There is an impression that Vibrant Gujrat Summit is meant for rich business just to mint money. Will you dispel that notion?

Vibrant Gujarat Summit is not only for rich business, rather it is a platform for ideation, knowledge exchange and networking. Apart from businesses – farmers, students, researchers, academicians, thought leaders participated and engaged in discussions in VG 2017. All these ideations and discussions helped us in making new policies and improving the previous ones.

Let me take you towards a bit of politics. There was a widespread feeling that though Mr. Modi has moved to Delhi he was everywhere in Vibrant Gujarat 2017. Are you still smarting under his leadership?

Shri Narendra Modi is our Prime Minister and we are proud that he has served as Chief Minister of this State continuously for more than 12 years.  We are committed to the motto of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas”and we are working constantly to realize the same.

Every state is holding its own investment summit. MP, UP, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, etc….Gujarat started the trend. Do you look at it as healthy competition among states?

Absolutely. Infact, Jharkhand, Assam, Maharashtra and Arunachal Pradesh held a ‘State Seminar’ during Vibrant Gujarat 2017 Summit to promote investment. Gujarat welcomes healthy competition among states.

In this Vibrant Gujarat Summit we saw MoUs being signed but mostly from Indian banks and investors. What was the total amount of MoUs signed in 2017?

Our focus is not on the amount of MoUs signed in 2017, but on the quality of MoUs and the expected ripple effect they will create in terms of employment, infrastructure development and inclusive growth. We have received MoUs from all sectors including education, urban development, water supply, power, renewable energy, manufacturing, IT & ITeS and so on and so forth. Gujarat as a state will continue to focus on these in coming times.

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