Modi's global investor summit promises Gujarat $333 bn

As Modi posed for a series of photo-ops in groups for over two hours, Gujarat Principal Industry Secretary M. Sahu announced that 2,766 memoranda of understanding were signed on Day One of the two-day conclave, worth an astounding Rs.15 lakh crore.|

This is eight-and-a-half times the presumptive loss estimated by India's official auditor for selling airwaves cheap to telecom operators for second-generation (2G) mobile phone services in the country -- a scam that is rocking the Congress party-led federal government.

In fact, it is also higher than India's foreign exchange reserves estimated at around $300 billion, though how many of these memoranda of understanding turn into actual projects is a matter of conjecture.

With the who's who of India's corporate world in attendance here, the chief minister told the Vibrant Gujarat Summit that the 21st century belonged not just to India, but also the larger Asia and Africa.

"The 20th century was all about exploitation in Asia, in Africa," he  said at the packed Mahatma Mandir exposition centre, named after the father of the nation and an icon of Gujarati pride.

"This century should be one of new understanding," Modi said, calling for meaningful partnerships among stakeholders in the three continents, as some 5,000-odd people at the venue listened with keen interest, often applauding him for the state's achievements.

Modi said this century also belonged to the power of youth, knowledge, democracy and justice system. "Forty-seven percent of our population is below the age of 20. I have a dream of providing them unlimited opportunities."

Gujarat, the chief minister said, is a land of entrepreneurs and enterprise. That was the reason why this year the state was sharing its platform of Vibrant Gujarat with other states now for ensuring that better knowledge and technology reaches all of India.

He also took pride in the fact that the event was being held to mark the opening of Mahatma Mandir on the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and the golden jubilee of the state.

Among the corporate heads who shared the dais with the chief minister were Ratan Tata, Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Gautam Adani, A.M. Naik, Adi Godrej, Anand Mahindra, G.M. Rao, Ajit Gulabchand and Karsanbhai Patel.

Each of their companies -- Reliance Power, Larsen and Toubro, Suzlon, Ultratech Cement, Hindustan Construction, GMR Group, Godrej and Boyce -- signed a major deal at the conclave.

All the industrialists also made two-to-five-minute speeches and all of them said they were making huge investments in the state. Modi made it a point to walk up to each of them after their speech for a handshake and an occasional hug as well.

Overseas dignitaries included Rwandan Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, Ugandan Planning Minister Kamuntu Ephraim, and Trinidad and Tobago's Tourism Minister Rupert Griffith.

In the previous edition of the Vibrant Gujarat conclave, investment commitments made amounted to $243 billion by way of 8,663 memoranda of understanding, with an employment generation potential of 2.62 million, officials said.

Taken together with the pre-events and the major exhibition, officials said the Vibrant Gujarat Summit has attracted some 20,000 participants from 19 Indian states and 60 countries. Japan and Canada are the partner countries.

One of India's most developed states, Gujarat is spread over 196,000 sq km among 26 districts, has a population of 50.7 million people and a literacy rate of 79.8 percent.

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