Gandhinagar: Fresh from his impressive win in assembly polls, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today received a resounding endorsement from Indian and foreign industry bodies for his "grand vision" for development with Anil Ambani putting him in the league of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel.
Notwithstanding the divided public and political opinion about him, captains of Indian industry and businesses hailed in one voice his leadership qualities and the "Gujarat development model" as he wooed investors from 30 countries at his bi-annual showpiece event -- Vibrant Gujarat Summit, which got off to a start here today.
"Narendrabhai has the Arjuna-like clarity of vision. Narendrabhai literally is the lord of men, a leader among leaders and the king among kings," said Anil Ambani, chairman of ADAG group.
He went a step further when he put Modi in the league of Gandhi and Patel, the two most illustrious sons of Gujarat.
"Let me attempt to paint another picture: October 2, 1869, Porbandar, Gujarat - the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the father of the nation; October 31, 1875, Nariyal, Gujarat - the birth of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India's man of steel; December 28, 1932, Chorwad, Gujarat - the birth of Dhirubhai Ambani, India's greatest entrepreneur; and September 17, 1950, Vadnagar, Gujarat - the birth of Narendra Modi," he said.
Mukesh Ambani, his brother and Chairman of Reliance Industries, echoed his views, describing the chief minister as a "leader with grand vision and determination to translate that vision into reality".
"We began from Gujarat and we come back here again and again to invest. We have committed investment of Rs 100,000 crore in Gujarat. We will expand our operations in Gujarat in Jamnagar and Hazira," he said, adding Reliance was proud to be called a "Gujarati company".
Ambani also committed further investment of Rs 500 crore in Pandit Dindayal Upadhayay Petroleum University.
Present among a galaxy of business leaders at the event was Chairman Emeritus of the Tata group Ratan Tata, whose dream car Nano saw the light of the day in Gujarat's Sanand after a political turmoil forced him to pull out the project from West Bengal.
"Earlier, I had said that it would be stupid not to be in Gujarat... It was only stupid that apart from the Tata Chemicals investment made earlier we were not here. But now Tata group has committed to invest or has already invested Rs 34000 crore here," Tata said.
He hoped the state will continue to be "unique in providing the industry-friendly environment".
Anand Mahindra, of Mahindra and Mahindra group, said, "Today people are talking about China model of development in Gujarat but day is not far when people will talk about Gujarat model of growth in China."
Industry lobby CII's president Adi Godrej of the Godrej group, congratulated Modi on his electoral victory and and noted, "Not only Gujarat is the fastest growing state in the country but its example is being emulated across many states."
Effusive praise also poured in for Modi from beyond the Indian shores with UK India Business Council (UKIBC) chair Patricia Hewitt, whose country ended decade-long boycott of the state imposed in the aftermath of 2002 communal riots in October last year, lauding Gujarat for having maintained a near double-digit growth rate in the last 10 years which was more than that of China.
Ron Sommers, representing US India Business Council (USIBC) called Gujarat's progress "stunning".
"Progress of Gujarat is stunning. It has set a new benchmark not only in India but across other countries in the world because Chief Minister Narendra Modi has shown that progress trumps politics. Gujarat has achieved double digit growth because of stability and sustainability," he said.
Chairman of the regional government of Astrakhan, a province in Russia, Konstantin Markelov congratulated Modi on his electoral success and wished him good luck for "victory at the national level".
Japanese Ambassador Takeshi Yagi, whose country is a partner in organising the summit, said the number of companies from that country operating in Gujarat had swelled manifold due to good infrastructure and abundant electricity.
"Gujarat is one of the key states along Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and it has good road connectivity and abundance of power. 10 years ago there were only six companies in Gujarat from Japan whereas today we have 60 companies here," he said.
Yagi is attending the summit with a delegation of over 100 representatives from 75 companies.
Ambassador of Denmark Freddy Svane described as "among the best in the world" conditions of doing business in Gujarat.
UK High Commissioner to India James Bevan said, "Britain is back. Gujarat is great and so is Britain. Let us work together."
With top industry leaders, captains of foreign businesses and envoys affirming faith in his leadership, Modi said Gujarat, which was once the gateway to the globe from India has now become the global gateway to the country.
"Once upon a time, Gujarat was the gateway to the globe from India. Now it is becoming the global gateway to India. We will make such a Gujarat that whole world will make it their home," he said.
"I reiterate that this event is not just about investments, it is not just about projects which give financial returns. It is about bringing positivity in the economic environment. It is about inducting togetherness in our socio-economic activities. It is about bringing global and local inclusiveness in our economic process," Modi said.
Pitching for making the people partners in progress, he deprecated economic models based on exploitation.
"History has repeatedly shown us that the economic models based on exploitation will not work. Even exploitation of markets is not going to help unless the people living in those markets are empowered, unless the local capacities to produce are improved, unless people are made partners in progress," he said.