The highlight of the much-publicised event this year was as much the volumes pledged, as the state's efforts to set a platform for national and international investments.
As has been reported widely, more than 35,000 delegates attended Vibrant Gujarat 2011 in January, including 1,400 from 101 countries, and more than 100 political leaders and captains of industry. Japan and Canada were partner countries and 300 exhibitors handling stalls from over 16 countries and 19 states populated the exhibition hall. But it was not all about volume, overwhelming grandeur and the Rs 20 lakh crore investment pledged through nearly 8,000 MoUs at the event. The state claims that 52 lakh new job opportunities were created.
This meet proved to be an attempt to provide a departure from the normal investment mindset. It included branding, marketing, sales, and a strong pitch for industry credibility: because the event not only attracted investments for the state itself; it provided a genuinely international platform for trade talks, negotiations, agreements, professional networking, exchange of insight and understanding among other states and various other countries.
Chief Minister Narendra Modi said before the event that “We propose to interact only on developmental issues at the summit, share knowledge and provide a platform for Indian states to choose partners in development.” However, by a pre-determined provision, the deals would not necessarily involve Gujarat. And this is where the brilliance of the event lay: through the volumes of participation, the sheer advantage of being on home turf, and a deserved show of muscle at organising the mega event, the host state attracted most of the investments.
Modi's pre-event pitch (through the numerous roadshows in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi) for participation by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) seemed to pay off. Out of the total investment of Rs 20.83 lakh crore, at least 54 per cent investment has gone to the SME industries.
Interestingly, the countries did not seem to care which political party ruled in Gujarat. They were professional in achieving their objective of utilising the opportunity to achieve their business objective. Business delegates from many countries including Rwanda, Canada, Uganda and Dubai met with entrepreneurs and businessmen from Gujarat and other parts
“Gujarat has provided various countries and industrialists with the opportunity to discuss the way ahead for development,” said Bernard Makuza, Prime Minister of Rwanda.
On the other hand, some of the states ruled by non-BJP governments carefully stayed away from the event. It is anyone's guess who the winners were. The Karnataka Government signed MoUs worth Rs 22,000 crore of investment. Those who signed pacts with Karnataka included Kalyani Steel, Ultratech Cement and Mahindra & Mahindra. Chhattisgarh government also took this opportunity to network with the pool of business delegations.
The event also turned out to be an indicator of the industry trends. Given that infrastructure figured prominently in the list of investments, it was little surprise that power and urban infrastructure topped the charts. This Summit, the energy and power sector received a total investment of Rs 9.93 lakh crore. A record 348 MoUs were signed on the first day of the Summit. One of the biggest offers in this sector is by Reliance Industries, which signed MoUs for Rs 40,000 crore at its oil refinery in Jamnagar and in its Hazira plant, and Essar, which pledged Rs 30,000 crore in power, refinery, ports and water infrastructure. Adani (Rs 20,000 crore for a 1,980 MW power plant) and Sintex Power (Rs 13,600 crore for a 1,720 MW plant) were some of the other biggies. Gujarat itself has received investments worth Rs 76,000 crore in the renewable energy sector.
Gujarat's urban plans also received a shot in the arm, with 613 MoUs worth Rs 2.64 lakh crore. L&T Infrastructure Development Projects promised to invest Rs 5,000 crore in the mono rail project for Ahmedabad. Essel Infraproject too signed MoUs worth 5,200 crore for solid waste management, sewage treatment in Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat together with landfill gas capture and electricity generation project in Ahmedabad and a desalination project in Surat. Even given the uncertainties of the Dedicated Freight Corridor along which the Delhi-Mumbai Infrastructure Corridor will come up, investors pledged Rs 76,000 crore, mainly because of Gujarat's initiative to set up the corridors of Metro rail, ports, and the much-publicised Special Investment Regions (SIRs), which are industrial corridors that set up infrastructural opportunities rather than incentivise investors.