'We want to make Vibrant Gujarat the global business hub,' Gujarat Minister Saurabh Patel tells Sheela Bhatt/Rediff.com
The 2015 edition of the Vibrant Gujarat summit is all about "globalising" the event and taking it into a higher orbit with the help of the eight partner countries who have co-sponsored the event, says Saurabh Patel, the Gujarat minister who is in charge of organising the summit.
"Vibrant Gujarat is the Davos of the East. We want it to be as famous as Davos," says Patel.
The summit has been controversial in the past for many reasons. This time around, the hype is of a different kind. Its ambitious agenda and high-profile guest list boasts names like John F Kerry, the US secretary of state, and Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general.
Patel told Rediff.com that Gujarat is trying to attract investors in the defence sector. The Government of India recently changed the national policy for manufacturing defence related equipment and items to attract foreign investment. The large number of partner countries at this year's Vibrant Gujarat event is also due to the altered defence manufacturing policy.
"In 2003 when the Vibrant Gujarat summit was first conceived," says Patel, "the state was passing through a crisis. We wanted to assure the business community of Gujarat's worthiness to get investment. We wanted the people's trust. We planned the summit to make Gujarat as the investor's destination. Slowly we turned it into the investor's hub and now, we want to make Vibrant Gujarat the global business hub. We want it to be as big as Davos."
Vibrant Gujarat was conceived by Narendra Modi when he was Gujarat's chief minister. Modi created Team Gujarat to manage the summit, says Patel, who was educated in the US and is the most powerful leader in the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state, second only to Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.
"Under Anandiben's leadership," says Saurabh Patel, "the same Team Gujarat is working to make this Vibrant Gujarat summit a mega success."
"See the list of dignitaries coming to Gujarat," he adds. "See how many businessmen are coming. They have already made arrangements to test the ground. Vibrant Gujarat has already turned into a global business platform for businessmen."
"The government has changed its policy to attract foreign investment in the defence sector. We will get more investment in defence equipment manufacturing. We expect to get investments in textiles, clean energy and infrastructure sectors," says Patel, outlining the objectives of this year's Vibrant Gujarat event.
When Rediff.com asked Patel, left, if it is fair that Gujarat leverage Prime Minister Narendra Modi's presence at the event to attract more investment to the state, he responds, "We don't want to compare Gujarat with any other state. We believe in healthy competition. Healthy competition is good for the country. We have created Vibrant Gujarat as a global platform and if the partner countries like Japan or Germany discuss business, automatically Gujarat will get their business."
"Gujarat has a 1,600 km long coastal line, it has transparent policies, it has 24/7 power supply, it has strong political leadership and it has financial stability," Patel points out.
Then, he adds in Gujarati, "Amari pase takat che. Ame takat thi aagal vadhiye che (We have might, we are moving ahead with our own might)."
Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Vibrant Gujarat 2015 event.