As Gujarat readies for the eighth edition of Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit (VGGIS) next week, the stage is set for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pitch India as an investment hot spot from the platform of the biennial event beginning January 10.
Increasing its reach and span, the four-day business meet this year is being touted as the biggest ever summit, which was conceived and launched by Modi in 2003 when he was the Gujarat chief minister. Apart from industry captains, the summit will also host Nobel laureates along with several heads of states for the first time.
The PM will hold a dialogue with heads of 35 international and 23 Indian companies at the global CEO roundtable on ‘Transforming India’ at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar on the inaugural day.
“The roundtable aims to dig and brainstorm industry’s expectations to make India an ideal investment destination,” PK Taneja, additional chief secretary (industries and mines), said.
John Chambers, chairperson of global technology giant Cisco; Bertrand-Marc Allen, president of Boeing International; and Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO of French electricity giant EDF, have already confirmed their participation in a special meeting with Modi.
Besides, presidents of Kenya and Rwanda, prime ministers of Portugal and Serbia, and deputy prime ministers of Russia and Poland will be among the dignitaries at the inaugural ceremony. It will also see the participation of delegations from the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Sweden and France, among others.
A Nobel Prize Series Exhibition – wherein Nobel-winning scientists will interact with students, scientists, industry leaders and policy makers – is being seen as one of the high points of the summit that has, so far, been projected as a platform for meeting of business minds.
The five-week exhibition will be opened by Modi on January 10 at Science City in Ahmedabad. Among the scientists is Indian-origin Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2009 with Thomas A Steitz and Ada Yonath.
“This will be the first time that Nobel Prize winners in such a big number from across the world will hold a session in the country,” chief secretary JN Singh said.
The Nobel winners will take part in ‘Nobel Laureate Dialogue’ at Mahatma Mandir on January 10, secretary of department of science and technology Dhananjay Dwivedi said.
“On January 11, these Nobel laureates will interact with students at various educational institutes such as IIT Gandhinagar, Gujarat University and MS University in Vadodara,” he added.
Opposition Congress has time and again questioned the success of VGGIS in terms of actual investment and employment generation against the pledge memorandum of understandings (MoUs) and promised jobs.
However, leading industrialists led by RIL Group vice-president Parimal Nathwani last week came in defence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state, claiming a higher rate of MoUs actualisation.
“From the past seven summits, on an average 66% of signed MoUs have been either commissioned or are in the stage of implementation,” chief secretary Singh said.
The government, however, has shied away from giving total investment that has come due to the actualisation of the 66% of the MoUs.
Fixed-pay workers threaten disruption
Jan Adhikar Manch (JAM), a little-known outfit, has threatened to disrupt the summit if nearly 15 lakh fixed-pay and contractual workers are not enrolled permanently by January 7. Young leaders, including Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakor who represent Dalits and OBC/SC/ST, respectively, have extended their support to JAM.
“We want that the government, which is organising a world class summit, must treat these 15 lakh workers on par with its employees,” JAM convener Pravin Ram said.
Deputy chief minister Nitin Patel on Monday said that the government will try to address the issue of the workers and file an affidavit on January 10 in the Supreme Court, which is hearing a case in this regard.
Opposition Congress, however, said the government’s assurance was just an eyewash.
“To avoid any sort of disruption during the summit, the government has given a lollipop by saying they would take a positive approach to resolve the issues of the fixed-pay workers,” Congress national spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said.