Ahmedabad: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and a clutch of businessmen, including Essar group vice- chairman Shashi Ruia, Adani group chairman Gautam Adani, Nirma Ltd managing director Hiren Patel, and General Motors India Ltd managing director Rajeev Chhaba, will depart for South Korea this week in an effort to sell the state as a preferred destination for investments.
All the businessmen accompanying him have significant interests in the state—their companies are either headquartered or have large manufacturing operations there.
Modi, who heads a Bharatiya Janata Party government that has been in power since 2001, has pursued and wooed investors assiduously through road shows in Russia, China, Japan, Singapore and Australia—not in the US, though, which in 2005 denied Modi a visa citing his role in an earlier communal riot in Gujarat—and a series of large-scale investor meets called Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors’ Summit, three of which have been held so far.
According to data available on the summit’s website, this year’s edition saw the state signing memoranda of understanding with investors for investments worth over Rs4.6 lakh crore which would generate over 1.3 million jobs. Economist and former member of the Planning Commission Y.K Alagh said, “it would not be true to say there is a huge upsurge of investment in Gujarat (because of the road shows and the summits),” but added that “one needs to make efforts (to attract investment to the state)”.
Modi is also being accompanied by several bureaucrats and the heads of state-owned companies including chairman of Gujarat State Petroleum Corp. and industries secretary D. Rajgopalan, managing director of Gujarat State Fertilizers Co.P.K. Taneja, principal secretary to the chief minister’s office K. Kailashnathan and state chief secretary Sudhir Mankad.
“We get to meet important government officials, policymakers and decisionmakers of these countries under one roof. There are a large number of requests for one-on-one meetings that we will have with local corporations. This is possible because we are going as part of the chief minister’s delegation,” said Rajesh Gandhi of ice cream manufacturer Vadilal Industries.
The team from Gujarat plans to visit Seoul, Busan and Incheon.
It will tour the Sihwa Tidal Water Power Project, Korean Maritime Institute and a local shipbuilding complex. Gujarat has interests in ship-building.
Alagh said investors in countries such as Korea and Japan are more traditional and take time to make decisions. “If you want good relationship in the Far East and plan well, it (a visit by a chief minister and businessmen) does help to an extent, but we must remember that they (the Koreans) are hard-nosed about their business,” he added.
Each of the businessmen accompanying Modi is paying Rs12.5 lakh to be part of the chief minister’s entourage on the four-day visit.