Home/ Politics / Policy/  Vibrant Gujarat: A Modi show all the way

Ahmedabad: “If all the world is a stage, here is the theatre," says one of the hoardings announcing the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2015. And over the stage towers the persona of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who conceptualized and promoted the summit while he was chief minister of the state.

Modi, who successfully showcased the so-called Gujarat model in his 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign, has portrayed himself as a business-friendly reformist.

Many attendees at the summit credited Modi with changing the perception about India.

“Though the parameters might have changed (from promoting Gujarat to promoting India) the spirit remains the same. Modi is reaching out to the world, inviting them saying that, look, India is going to be a wonderful place to be," said Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and creative director for Ogilvy & Mather India and South Asia.

According to Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, Modi’s leadership has raised Indians’ hopes and revitalized their energies.

The UK has launched Great Collaborations, a programme to cooperate more with Indian companies, UK’s junior minister for trade and investment Ian Livingston said.

The programme, he said, responds to Modi’s Make in India campaign to encourage manufacturing in India.

“There was recognition of success in Gujarat when Modi was the chief minister. Today, there is a lot of optimism towards India from the outside world that he will bring similar success to India. There is a change in India’s image and it is more open to business. Modi is in a strong position and he has a plan, a strong plan, something which was not there earlier, to bring business focus to India," Livingston said on Saturday.

The US-India Business Council (USIBC) said it has brought the largest American business delegation to the summit. “Modi’s promise of more red carpets and less red tape has changed the image of India, though there is more work to be done," said USIBC acting president Diane Farrell over the phone.

Farrell said that USIBC surveyed a fifth of its members, and found them willing to invest a combined $41 billion in India in the next 2-3 years.

Dwijendra Tripathi, business historian and former professor at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, compares Modi with James Harold Wilson, former prime minister of UK, and with former US President John F. Kennedy.

“Like them, Modi built his brand on his own ability and was not tested. Although I am no fan of Modi, I must say he is an outstanding orator, outstanding campaigner and a great image-seller. He can sell an idea even though it may not be originally his, for example, the Clean India campaign," said Tripathi.

According to Sanjay Lalbhai, chairman of Gujarat-based Arvind Ltd, “The way Modi has reached out to so many countries in such a short span is a remarkable achievement. India is the only story today, especially with other BRIC nations not doing so well."

Not everyone agrees. According to political scientist Shiv Vishvanathan, the intentions are there and efforts are being made; however, the image of India changed only for the Indian diaspora and not the rest of the world.

The perception of India changed two decades ago after the economic liberalization and the power shift to the east began then, said Ghanshyam Shah, a former professor of political science at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

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Updated: 12 Jan 2015, 12:19 AM IST
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