Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi kicked off the state's 5th biennial global summit on Wednesday, confident of pulling investment commitments larger than the $243 billion attracted by the previous edition.
With the who's who of India's corporate world in attendance in Gandhinagar, the chief minister told the Vibrant Gujarat Summit that the 21st century belonged not just to India, but also the larger Asia and Africa.
"The 20th century was all about exploitation in Asia, in Africa," he said at the packed Mahatma Mandir exposition centre, named after the father of the nation and an icon of Gujarati pride.
"This century should be one of new understanding," Modi said, calling for meaningful partnerships among stakeholders in the three continents.
Modi said this century also belonged to the power of youth, knowledge, democracy and justice system. "47% of our population is below the age of 20. I have a dream of providing them unlimited opportunities."
Gujarat, the chief minister said, is a land of entrepreneurs and enterprise. That was the reason why this year the state was sharing its platform of Vibrant Gujarat with other states for better knowledge and technology.
He also took pride in the fact that the event was being held to mark the opening of Mahatma Mandir on the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and the golden jubilee of the state.
Among the corporate heads who shared the dais with the chief minister were Ratan Tata, Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Gautam Adani, A.M. Naik, Adi Godrej, Anand Mahindra, G.M. Rao, Ajit Gulabchand and Karsanbhai Patel.
All the industrialists made two to five minute speeches and all of them said they were making huge investments in the state. Modi made it a point to walk up to each of them after their speech for a handshake and an occasional hug as well.
Overseas dignitaries included Rwandan Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, Ugandan Planning Minister Kamuntu Ephraim, Trinidad and Tobago's Tourism Minister Rupert Griffith.
In the previous edition of the Vibrant Gujarat conclave, investment commitments amounted to $243 billion by way of 8,663 memoranda of understanding, with an employment generation potential of 2.62 million, officials said.
Taken together with the pre-events and the major exhibition, officials said the Vibrant Gujarat Summit has attracted some 20,000 participants from 19 Indian states and 60 countries. Japan and Canada are the partner countries.
One of India's most developed states, Gujarat is spread over 196,000 sq km among 26 districts, has a population of 50.7 million people and a literacy rate of 79.8%.