Gujarat officials sell upcoming Vibrant Gujarat summit in California

Ritu Jha-

A team from the Gujarat government is on the third leg of a U.S. roadshow to drum up investment for the Indian state – this time in the Bay Area – ahead of a biennial event, dubbed the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, to be held early next year in Gujarat.

The team, led by J.P. Gupta, principal secretary (finance) in the state government, invited potential investors to consider Gujarat as an option, describing it as a state that shares a culture of brotherhood, harmony and business entrepreneurship.

The summit was conceptualized in 2003 by Narendra Modi, when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. He is now India’s prime minister. The theme for the 10th edition, the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2022, is “From Aatmanirbhar Gujarat to Aatmanirbhar Bharat” [From self-reliant Gujarat to self-reliant India]. It will be held January 10-13 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

“Wherever Gujaratis go, they look for business first,” said Gupta during the roadshow held in San Francisco at the Marriot, Dec. 2. by the Consulate General of India, San Francisco, and US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF). “We want Gujarat to become a platform with which the whole world does not just trade but also discuss new ideas that can change the world,” Gupta said in his speech. He went on to highlight the advantages of the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) in Gandhinagar in Gujarat and Fintech initiative.

“We want ideas in climate change poverty alleviation, and you are stupid if not investing in Gujarat,” he said, quoting magnate Ratan Tata.

Gupta told indica this year’s summit would be bigger than the last one.

“Our focus is on three specific carriers: clean and green energy, fintech, innovative and new technology – beside other projects,” Gupta said, adding, “That is the need of the world, need of the country and the world. We are proudly saying that Gujarat is the growth engine of India. We show how new policies can shape and state and lead to further development in the country. These are specific technologies Cop26 has shown that we need to work together on, and Gujarat has taken the lead long back in the green initiative.”

He said Gujarat had a strong manufacturing base, and now aimed to grow in new sectors, particularly service, power, and emerging technology.”

The 9th Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2019 hosted 2,458 business meetings, 1,140 business-to-government sessions, the result being 28,360 memorandums of understanding being signed.

Gupta discussed the earlier legs of the trip – in Washington D.C. and New York.

“We had a discussion with the U.S. State Department,” he said. “We know there are concerns related to COVID, but the U.S. government has promised us that they are going to participate,” Gupta said. “We have invited a lot of governors, state officials and business delegates.” He admitted that despite the huge response, the worry of the pandemic did linger over the event.

One attendee, Harshul Asnani, senior vice president at Tech Mahindra, told indica his company has an office in Gujarat with more than 300 employees.

“I won’t say Gujarat is a destination because Gujarat is great, but because there is over-saturation [elsewhere]. Companies like ours are looking at satellite cities offering amazing incentives,” he said, adding that while those cities were not for their IT prowess, “talent can be trained.”

Bharath Krishnaswamy, another senior vice president at the firm’s California office, said that while it promised to be a good summit, it would be difficult for multinationals to move to Gujarat.

“It is a matter of time, and talent has maxed out in some cities,” he said, echoing Asnani. “Talent is missing. Gujarat is not known for software development; it is known more for industrial refineries and textiles” He added that IT firms would ask why they would have to move to Gujarat.

Another attendee,, Jay Ruparel, co-founder of Azure Knowledge Corporation, has invested in just the IT sector in Gujarat. He told indica that retention is a big problem everywhere (Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad), while the different attitude seen in Gujarat meant you could retain talent. Besides, he said, labor cost was lower than in other states, and there were no power issues like in many states in southern India. He has an office in Ahmedabad.

Jayanti Patel, chairman and managing director of Meghmani Organics Limited, which exports pigments and agrochemicals to 80 countries including the U.S., told indica he has been associated with the summit since 2003. He said that Gujarat is ahead in textiles and pharmaceuticals, that people there have entrepreneurial minds, and that the state government eases the way for anybody who wants to invest in it.

He said the state government ought to grab the opportunities that came after COVID.

“Europe and the U.S. don’t want to put their eggs in one basket. They want 20 to 30 percent market share in India,” Patel said, asserting that the Gujarat government should market the state as the product.”

He agreed that infrastructure issues to deal with, while adding, “but you can have anything in India.”

Los Angeles based Dr. Anil Shah, chairman of Smart Village Movement (SVM) and working in alliance with UC Berkeley Haas on the smart village projects in India was also present at the summit to meet Gupta told indica “Meeting was very fruitful, useful and we have been asked to go to Gujarat and meet the Chief Minister.”

“We work in villages as clusters of 50 villages each. We are thinking of adopting Chota Udaipur, and Aravalli district, though nothing concrete yet,” Shah said.

Shah was present along with Prof. Solomon Darwin, Executive Director, Center for Corporate Innovation, Executive Director, Center for Growth Markets at Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley and is known as the father of the Smart Village Movement sharing further on the Smart Village project said that it has been successfully adopted by the government of Meghalaya and looking forward to work in Gujarat as well.