Vibrant Gujarat more show than substance

The bulk of India Inc's A-listers were on the dais at the inaugural session of the sixth Vibrant Gujarat Summit, which began on Friday. However, barring Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and Essar Group chairman Shashi Ruia, none committed any investments in the state.

Moreover, unlike in 2009, when at the same event captains of Indian industry had tipped Narendra Modi as a potential PM, this time around they confined their praise for the Gujarat chief minister at the state level.

While thanking the assemble industrialists and businessmen, Modi, who spoke last and in English at the three-and-a-half-hour inaugural session, said that in every aspect of reforms his state had shown the way to the central government.

In terms of praise, ADAG chairman Anil Ambani took the cake by stating that Gujarat had produced four stalwarts: Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Dhirubhai Ambani and the Gujarat chief minister. Anil Ambani was the first speaker after CII president Adi Godrej's inaugural speech as a partner for the event and in his opening remarks paid respects to elder brother Mukesh Ambani. He compared Modi to Mahabharat's Arjun in terms of clarity of vision and action and hailed him as a king among kings and lord among men, and even requested the audience to give the chief minister a standing ovation, but did not show the same enthusiasm when it came to investing in the state.

All he said was: "The Reliance Group has been a large investor in the state and continues to pursue the same."

The younger Ambani was followed by the vice-chairman and managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra, Anand Mahindra, who wondered what made Gujarat such an attractive state for business and said it was perhaps its soil and good food and also because the people of the state were not afraid of failure in business. Hailing Modi's model, he said that just as today the China model is being talked about, soon a day would come when the Gujarat model would become the buzzword.

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