Vibrant Gujarat summit begins today

  • Mahesh Langa, Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
  • Updated: Jan 11, 2015 01:26 IST

PM Narendra Modi will Sunday inaugurate the 7th Vibrant Gujarat global summit in Gandhinagar in the presence of high-profile guests, including UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, US secretary of state John Kerry, Bhutan PM Tshering Tobgay and senior ministers from over two dozen countries.

Apart from foreign leaders and diplomats, many of the country’s political leaders, policy makers and CEOs of top multinational companies would attend the three-day summit, billed by the Gujarat government as the ‘Davos of East’ —Davos in Switzerland is host to the World Economic Forum.

That the summit figures high on Modi’s priority list was evident from the fact that he arrived for it a day before, within hours of wrapping up a rally in Delhi’s Ramila Maidan. Upon arrival, he held a review meeting with chief minister Anandiben Patel and the state’s top bureaucrats. He later met Bhutan PM Tobgay, UK trade minister Lord Livingston, Poland’s deputy prime minister and other delegates with the meetings focusing on trade and economic ties and counter-terror cooperation.

Several big-ticket announcements are expected to be made at the summit, including by RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani on the KG Basin project and 4G telecom services. Vodafone is also likely to announce further investment in the Indian telecom sector.

Besides, sustainable energy for all (SE4ALL), a UN initiative, is expected to sign agreements with the Gujarat government to provide energy access to economically poor sections. In partnership with Gujarat-based Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), SE4ALL will provide solar pumps to 400 salt pan workers in Kutch.

The summit is also the first since the NDA government raised the FDI cap in the defence sector. According to Diane Farrell, acting president of business advocacy organization, US-India Business Council (USIBC), several US firms such as Textron and Lockheed Martin that manufacture defence equipment are keen to expand their base in India.

Australian trade and investment minister Andrew Robb and premier of New South Wales’ region Mike Braid are expected to sign agreements with Gujarat on urban development, water security and education.

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