‘India is the next big story in financial markets’: Top Gujarat official in the US

Ritu Jha–

“India is the next big story about the financial markets,” JP Gupta, additional chief secretary from Gujarat (pictured above), who was in the US with a team to promote the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2024, told indica this past week.

“We are inviting entrepreneurs, and businessmen to invest in Gujarat. We had events in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. We’ll be going to Seattle. We met a lot of financial sector people in New York, the world capital for the capital markets. We went to the Nasdaq, and New York Stock Exchange and met many fund managers. There is a lot of excitement among fund managers to invest in India.”

Visitors at the event to promote Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2024. Photos by: indica

He said, “Vibrant Gujarat is a global platform for investors, business people, academia, and political leaders. There we discuss ideas and strategies. It is also about business which is why people want to come and invest in Gujarat – 91,000 MoUs have been signed in Vibrant Gujarat, a large percentage of which are being executed. India is growing fast and the world is taking note of it. I’m sure in the coming days India will gain its rightful place in the world’s democratic and financial order. We are talking about the future which holds us together. It’s a change and the rate of change in the world economy, and technology has increased. If we want to be relevant in the future then we need to talk about it and plan for it,” he said.

Talking on Gujarat International Finance Tech-city (GIFT) City which was initiated in 2007 and it has been a long journey that is far from complete. How long will Gift City take to achieve its potential? “Conceptually, it’s a greenfield city land a high-tech city. It has taken time to conceptualize and implement, but now it has taken off, and in the coming days you will hear more about Gift City. It will be like being in New York, London, Singapore or Dubai. Gift City is emerging as the world’s leading financial capital. World capital is right now concentrated in many Western countries, primarily in the US and Europe. We need that capital to flow to emerging and developing markets. Our attempt is in that direction,” Gupta told indica.

The Gujarat government is also trying to rope in some international universities to set up campuses in Gift City. “We want to have universities setting up their international branch campuses in Gift. Two universities have already agreed and more are in the pipeline. Two MoUs were signed in LA and many US universities are showing the inclination to do so,” he added, though he did not disclose the names.

Vish Arunachalam, founder, chairman, and director of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, San Francisco chapter and host of the event held at the University of Silicon Andhra in Milpitas, California speaking at the Vibrant Gujarat roundtable event which included a delegation from the US, and India said, “We are holding similar events to promote investment opportunities in India, especially in the Gift City in Gujarat.”

“In many parts of the world, we are committed to promoting investment opportunities at the Gift City and showcasing the many advantages of investing in Gujarat. We got a very positive response from the audience and we are confident that there is a strong interest in investing in Gujarat,” Arunachalam said. 

Rajiv Mishra, head of the Gujarat unit of the Confederation of Indian Industries, played a key role in forming the delegation for the US visit. CII-Gujarat is the national partner of Vibrant Gujarat. “We work closely with the government of Gujarat. The kind of feedback we are getting from people across the globe is very encouraging. A lot of industries are looking at India as the next investment destination. Gujarat has emerged as a leader in manufacturing and chemical industries in India. Now we are also focusing on the service sectors like fintech and technology.”

He added, “In the next five years, Gift City will be a global focus point of all the fintech companies. We have put a regulator in place and we have infrastructure in place. We are seeing what policies can be implemented that will help the companies to grow there and help them do business. While in New York we held a lot of meetings with top financial companies and invited them to invest in Gujarat and India. Gujarat is a focus because we think it is going to be the growth engine for India.”

Naman Gangwal, president of USAIndiaCFO, a CPA based in Palo Alto, asked Gupta a question on whether GIFT city encourages transaction through crypto, on which Gupta clearly said, IFSC is clear in that, RBI too do not allow cryptocurrency… “so, absolutely No.”

Gangwal told indica, “I think the Indian authorities are doing their best, but governance in India is also evolving. They are making faster decisions as well and doing a great job. They just need to be hands-on at the grassroots level, there are lots of intricate issues where the management wants to push the button. There are lots of ground-level issues that become a blockade. That’s something that they will need to work on.”

Another attendee Murugappan Natesan, a native of Tamil Nadu and has lived in the US for the last 27 years told indica, that his IT firm has developed a marine insurance technology product through STPI in Chennai. “We are trying to push policy in a particular direction so that the government of India helps us with this. The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) has given us one year to try out this new policy which we are recommending as a part of their innovation sandbox. In innovation, they are trying to include new business practices or new policies where either RBI or in our case it’s the IRDA which is the insurance authority in India push their policy towards making it easier to do business in India. We’ve gotten into the innovation sandbox and are still in the process of registering ourselves in Gift City. That is where we are facing some challenges,” Natesan told indica.

Nateshan and his team started the registration process in March 2022. “We went through a set of hackathons. All of this we did in the virtual mode but now we are forced to go physical. That is where we are facing challenges. All along we’ve been virtual. Even now we are virtual. Our technology group is based out of Chennai while our corporate is based out of Mumbai. But we are having to physically relocate to Gift City,” he said.

The product that Nateshan’s firm is working on helps marine insurers as well as marine companies globally. “Gujarat’s Gift City has a lot of shipping and marine companies and banking institutions as well. Asked the reason Nateshan has not opted for the Singapore route to save taxes while investing in India is multifaceted. “I’ve seen people set up technology centers, product development centers, in Chennai or elsewhere in India and then keep the corporate office alone in Singapore or anywhere else. But here we are trying to make sure that all of it is in one place and we can have interactions at the highest levels with all of our possible customers – insurance companies and marine service providers. That is why we want to be in Gift City and also because it will benefit India in a big way. Instead of dollars going outside the country and then coming in through a different route, this will be a direct investment,” Nateshan told indica.

Related posts