The three-day Global Investors Summit in Indore from October 28 to 30, was 'global' only in name; its flavour was overwhelmingly domestic. Though, delegates came from 15 countries, most went away without committing anything. It was mainly the domestic investors who dominated the show.
While the who's who of the Indian corporate world took part, it was only minor officials from foreign embassies, with only one delegate addressing the gathering.
The state government as organisers too missed the vital language point. Most of the bureaucrats and industrialists spoke in English, but the political class, be it industries minister Kailash Vijayvargiya, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj, or veteran LK Advani spoke in Hindi, flummoxing the foreign delegates.
As consulate general of Republic of Singapore, Chung Ying Lin, said, "I could not follow a single word of what was being said by Hindi. The condition of Joseph Gamliel, CTO, Dmulasia Solar Energy, an Israeli firm was the same. The organisers realized this and Vijayvargiya later said that next time they would ensure that there are interpreters.
Though the organisers did try to spruce up the city by putting up decorative lights, the lack of global air connectivity was jarring. Indore and Bhopal claim to have international airports, but there are no international flights.
The miserly investment commitments from foreign delegates was most surprising. For most of the foreign investors and embassy officials, Madhya Pradesh is still an unknown terrain. Airing this sentiment, Republic of Singapore, consul general, Chung Ying Lin said, "This is only our second visit to the state, and we are trying to get a feel of the place."
Similar was the case with consul general, Japan, Kiyoshi Asako. "We are collecting information about the possibilities that exist in Madhya Pradesh. We will pass it on to the Japanese companies and let them decide," he said. What Michael Ott, Deputy Consul General, Germany had to say was on similar lines. "We have come to see how the state is trying to present itself to the investors from Germany," he said.
Naturally, the investment from foreign firms was poor. One of the few firms to make a commitment to invest in Madhya Pradesh and sign an MoU was Dmulasia Solar Energy, an Israel-based company. Joseph Gamliel, the CTO of the company, said they are to set up a solar power project in Mandsaur.
Showing some sort of interest was the Quebec Government. The government's trade and public affairs advisor Pranav Doshi said that they were scouting for 500 hectares of land near Indore and Bhopal airport to set cargo container depots.
If the political leadership was upset over this development, they put up a brave face. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan admitted before the media that the investment from foreign countries was lower than expected, but said it was good that they now knew about Madhya Pradesh and the facilities it offers. "This is just the beginning of a relationship that we will pursue to help them invest," the chief minister said.
MP Trade and Investment Felicitation Corporation, managing director Arun Bhatt said that they are yet to collect data of MoUs by foreign companies. "I am not in a position to give you the figure," Bhatt said.