Universally acknowledged as the most favoured state for investments in India by top financial analysts, Gujarat is as good as it gets for entities (private or public), looking for fertile ground. According to Vijay Rupani, Chief Minister of Gujarat, the state’s formula of success lies in the extraordinary business acumen of its people. In an exclusive conversation with The Sunday Guardian, CM Rupani spoke about how converting a challenge into an opportunity for development and growth was a part of the very spirit of the people of Gujarat. 

And the impact of this is evident, despite having only 5% of India’s population — Gujarat contributes over 19% of its industrial output. Thus, unsurprisingly Vibrant Gujarat, a biennial investors’ Summit launched in 2003, is today considered one of India’s most unique forums for investment opportunities, knowledge sharing and networking. This mammoth event showcases over 25 separate sectors, involving over 2,000 Indian companies and 2,500 international representatives. The event is spread over exhibition grounds covering over 125,000 sq mt — the largest in the country and during the course of the four-day event, millions of visitors are on hand to attend each exhibition.

 Few leaders have the strength and vision to anchor and lead an event of this scale and magnitude. However, despite having only completed 150 days in office, CM Rupani has proved that he has the vision and determination to take up this challenge. The policies that have been unveiled by his government in this brief period are apart from being well-timed and minutely researched, extraordinarily broad visioned. From the inauguration of the SAUNI Yojana, to end the water woes of Saurashtra, to clearing crop insurance schemes, the lifeline of the farmer community, CM Rupani has consistently reiterated his commitment to “inclusive growth”, the key theme of Vibrant Gujarat. Excerpts”

Q. I want to begin by congratulating you for the lasting impact your regime has had on the state in just 150 days.

A. The state of Gujarat and its people have carried forward the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Practicing principled politics is our tool for good governance. Hon’ble Modiji had been the torchbearer of these principles as the Chief Minister of Gujarat through a transparent and a pro-active government. We will continue to guide the state in the same way as Modiji did, through a transparent and a pro-active government.

Q. How do you recall the journey of 150 days as a Chief Minister of the most progressive state in the country?

A. I recall my 150 days with a lot of pride. We have shown that we are a decisive government. There are no pending files in my office. Our administration is geared up to be on the fast track. We have coined the slogan “Gujarat on Fast Track”. Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modi has laid such a strong base in the state that the investment flow has been steady for the past 15 years and that has been the biggest advantage to me. The state has immensely benefitted from these policies and we are ensuring that the entrepreneurs are able to contribute as consistently and as decisively, as they have done in the past.

Q. Your Cabinet colleagues and bureaucrats mention the Four Important Elements you have shared with them. What are these four important Elements of Governance?

A. The most important one is Transparency. We have ensured utmost transparency in our Government and it gives confidence, both to the people of the state and outside. The second key element of governance that I follow is Decisiveness. We believe it is important to be decisive. An indecisive government leads to corruption and hampers growth. The third important element is providing a Sensitive Government. The people have to know that this government is sensitive to their needs, especially of the poor and the downtrodden. They are the focus of our policies. Most importantly, our government is a Progressive Government. We want Gujarat to be the pinnacle of development in the country.

Gujarat International Finance Tec-City is a new concept and will be showcased as the International Finance Centre. BSE, NSE and many key players of the capital market will come during Vibrant Gujarat. The entire international trading community will be present in Gandhinagar.

Q. Vibrant Gujarat has become a symbol of the state demonstrating its strengths to international investors. What are the highlights of Vibrant Gujarat 2017?

A. As you know that Vibrant Gujarat is organised every two years, our theme is to connect India to the world. The “Make in India” slogan given by Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modi is guiding us in our plans and projects. Through Vibrant Gujarat 2017, we will make all possible efforts to highlight Gujarat as the best “Make in India” destination. In the past few months, we have organised road shows in several countries and the response has been encouraging from all sides. I must tell you that this time, delegates from 110 countries will participate in the Vibrant Gujarat summit. We are also happy that 12 countries from across the globe will be partner countries of this global summit and several Heads of State will be coming to attend the same.

And not only business heads and investors, for the first time, Gujarat is looking at getting the best brains from across the globe. I can proudly tell you that nine Nobel laureates will be attending the Vibrant Gujarat 2017. These Nobel laureates, who have earned the Nobel Prize in the fields of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, will share their knowledge with us. An International Science Exhibition will be organised at the Science City. Prime Minister will inaugurate the exhibition and the Nobel laureates will interact with the people as well.

“We have launched 17 new policies, which will be showcased during the Vibrant Summit. The Centre on Defence and Aerospace made an announcement to encourage FDI in these sectors. We shall see some deals in the same as well.”
Q. For decades, Gujarat and Gujaratis have driven financial markets in the country. We believe that a significant announcement will be made through the platform of Vibrant Gujarat. Can you throw a light on the same?

A. Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) is a new concept and will be showcased as the International Finance Centre. BSE, NSE and many key players of the capital market and stockbrokers will come during Vibrant Gujarat 2017. The entire international trading community will be present in the capital city of the state Gandhinagar. We are glad that the Union Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India have whole-heartedly supported the concept.

The Prime Minister will inaugurate the GIFT city during his visit. The concept of setting up a GIFT city will prove to be of immense advantage to a lot of businessmen, brokers and financial traders as they will be able to work from Gandhinagar itself rather than travelling to Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong for their international financial deals. The GIFT city will soon become the new economic development center of the country.

I recall my 150 days with a lot of pride. We have shown that we are a decisive government. There are no pending files in my office. Our administration is geared up to be on the fast track. We have coined the slogan “Gujarat on Fast Track”. 

Q. Gujarat has a sizeable advantage compared to many other states as far as driving traditional industries are concerned. Will there be a fillip to these sectors, which are the backbone of Gujarat’s economy?

A. Yes! You are correct. During the tenure of Narendrabhai Modi as the Chief Minister, Gujarat had shown immense potential for absorbing capital and providing development. Sectors such as manufacturing, automobile, port development, textile and diamond, ship-breaking centres, food processing centers and dairy will be developed further. Many people have shown interest in developing these traditional sectors.

We have launched 17 new policies, which will be showcased during the Vibrant Summit. The Centre on Defence and Aerospace made an announcement to encourage FDI in these sectors. We shall see some deals in the same as well.

Q. Taking investment to the less developed areas has been a major challenge. How do you plan to take investors to areas where further development potential exists?

A. By far Gujarat is a developed state, but some regions still have the potential to be developed even further. Dholera is one such region, which is why we have chosen to highlight it as a “Smart City” region. We have already started putting the first phase of development in place with a budget Rs 2,800 crore. This project was the dream of the Prime Minister and we are showcasing the same to the investors. Dholera will be the centre of attraction in Vibrant Gujarat.

Q. One question that comes to my mind as far as Gujarat is concerned is, “What is the roadmap for the next 5 years”?

A. Precisely! We have set benchmarks for other states to follow. When I met industry captains, they did not complain about pending files or projects suffering delays but with just one question, “What will the state offer for development and investment in the next five years?” I have already met over 50 industrialists across the country in Delhi and Mumbai in the country during the roadshows and they are very keen to invest in Gujarat in the days to come. We believe that we have to keep wooing investors to the state from across the world as we offer a very conducive climate and a strong foundation for the industry to feel comfortable and secure about its investment.

Q. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a goal for the country that is immensely ambitious. Now all eyes would be on Gujarat. Do you think Gujarat can match up to it?

A. The campaigns launched by the Prime Minister on Make in India, Digital India and Skill India have become extremely popular. People of the state are thinking of innovative ways to make the country and Gujarat self-reliant. We in Gujarat have acted in a very responsible way, as this is Modiji’s Gujarat and the world is watching us. Through Vibrant Gujarat, we wish to make the state strong on the three pillars of Make in Gujarat, Digital Gujarat and Skilled Gujarat.

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