India Business
Rs.2 trillion investments promised at Gujarat expo
Jan 12, 2007 - 7:21:34 PM

Ahmedabad, Jan 12 - Indian entrepreneurs, including Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, Friday committed investments and projects in Gujarat totalling Rs.2.1 trillion - over the next four-five years at the Gujarat business expo.

Ambani committed a whopping Rs.350 billion in modernising his refinery in Jamnagar and another Rs.320 billion by signing memoranda of understanding - with Indian and foreign collaborators.

Recalling the words of his late father Dhirubhai Ambani at the third 'Vibrant Gujarat 2007' Global Investors' Summit here, he said Reliance was 'a Gujarati enterprise, an Indian enterprise and a global enterprise'. He also announced the setting up of 'a world-class university' in Gujarat.

Tata Group chief Ratan Tata, who made no fresh commitment, recalled the indebtedness of his family and the Parsi community of fire worshippers, who migrated from Iran in the eighth century, to be welcomed in Gujarat.

The economic climate under Modi was such that 'it would be stupid not to come here', he told a large gathering, including 200 foreign delegates.

Announcements of fresh investments were also made by Kumar Mangle Burlap of the Adyta Burlap Group, Torrent and others.

Exhorting all industrialists to invest, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said: 'Try your luck here. You will earn enough to feed your generations.'

This is Modi's third expo with domestic and foreign investors. Some of those who made commitments in 2003 and 2005 came forward to say that the state government had allotted them land within 30 days of application and cleared all formalities in 90 days to enable them put up factories and a project in a matter of months.

The chief minister completes six years in office in December when the state is slated to go for assembly elections. Though his handling of the 2002 communal riots was severely criticised at home and abroad, there was not even a remote reference to it in the proceedings at the 'Vibrant Gujarat 2007'.

The chief guest, Balaji Sadasivan, Singapore's senior minister of state for foreign affairs, recalled the role of the Gujarati community in his city-state in setting up the first Indian Chamber of Commerce 50 years ago.

Even the Gujarati school in Singapore would be celebrating its 60th anniversary, Sadasivan said, adding: 'Singapore's investors and entrepreneurs have a lot to learn from Gujarat.'

Habil Khorakiwala, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry -, who also heads pharma giant Workhardt, said Gujarat, with six percent of the geographic space and five percent of the population, was contributing to 21 percent of the country's exports.

With the economic momentum in Gujarat and at the national level, Khorakiwala said India could surpass the economies of Italy and France by 2020, Germany by 2025 and Japan by 2030.

In his key-note address, ICICI Bank chief K.V. Kamath praised Modi's 'pro-active' role in guiding the state's economy. More like a CEO'. He said, however, that it was necessary to concentrate on the rural areas in augmenting human resources like education and health at the same level as the economy if the country was to achieve balanced growth.

Investors from across the world, including China, the US and Britain are attending the expo. Many of them are non-resident Gujaratis who have done well abroad. Like Mukesh Ambani said they were 'regulars' and hoped to consolidate their gains made earlier.

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