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Facts speak louder than claims, more so over time
RK Mishra | Thursday, 19 January 2017 AT 10:16 AM IST
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Last week, the eighth edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017 unfolded with all the razzmatazz. The figures of proposed investment triumphantly trotted up at the end of each event have  gained in girth from a robust Rs 65,000 crore worth in 2003 (80 MoUs) to  Rs 12 lakh crore in 2009 (3,574 MoUs) to Rs 21 lakh crore in 2011 (8,380 MoUs).

”These were ‘lies’ clothed as half-truths, designed to fulfil a specific purpose which it did serve,” says Shankersinh Vaghela, former union minister and present leader of the opposition Congress Legislature Party.

One of the main reasons that the then chief minister stopped announcing proposed investment figures after 2011 was the realisation that it had bloated to ludicrous levels and the actual investment was a mere fraction of it. No wonder then the word ‘investor’ quietly disappeared from the global summit as other states began mimicking Gujarat and even outdoing it with cap-drop figures.

It seems that the Gujarat summit is now losing focus. Put up by Gujarat at its own cost, it was the Prime Minister’s show through and through. No sooner did he leave on the inaugural night that it petered into a lacklustre affair. Empty seats greeted seminar halls with speakers either not turning up or leaving after a namesake presence.

Volunteering government staff was used to fill up empty seats to save face. Lack of interest bordering on mismanagement was on full display. The Canada country seminar wound up in less than two hours with only about 20 delegates present, just to give a few examples.

On the day Nobel Laureates from different parts of the world gathered to discuss ways to improve the quality of education, 6,000 students of Ahmedabad municipal schools went without regular studies as their teachers were ordered on duty at the summit venue to chaperone VVIPs and CEOs for the inauguration.

They were even left to buy formal attire from their own pockets. Over 300 teachers had similarly been pulled out from their teaching work for assorted duties at the summit.

Gujarat, post-Modi is sitting on a volcano of social dissent fuelled by visions of gigantic development doled out through high profile summits but  marred by swelling ranks of educated unemployed. Patels, OBCs and Dalits are up in arms but no sooner did their leaders Jignesh Mavani, Atul Patel and farmers’ rights activist Sagar Desai announce their decision to protest against the summit, they were summarily detained.

According to figures published by Gujarat’s own Directorate of Economics and Statistics only about 8 per cent of the Rs 40 trillion of the investments proposed at the summits from 2003 to 2011 have been implemented. The Gujarat government ‘bravely’ put the figure at 66 per cent last week.

Maharashtra without such a high profile ‘shindig’ bagged 30 per cent of India’s total investment between 2000 and 2016 while Gujarat ranked fifth with 4 per cent.

The Department of Industry Policy and Promotion (DIPP) study brings out that Gujarat’s share in actual cumulative Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows to India between 2000 and 2013 - coinciding with Modi’s rule - was only 4 per cent. Gujarat garnered only Rs 39,000 crore out of the cumulative national FDI inflow of 9.1 lakh crore.

More significantly, Gujarat’s share in the kitty has been on the decline in the last three financial years from 3.4 per cent in 2011 to 2.9 per cent in 2012 to 2.4 per cent in 2013. So much for what has been billed by no less than the present prime minister as the ‘Davos of the East’ and as the 2017 summit tagline goes, “India’s Economic Expressway”! Is it?

It seems that the Gujarat summit is now losing focus. Put up by Gujarat at its own cost, it was the Prime Minister’s show through and through. No sooner did he leave on the inaugural night that it petered into a lacklustre affair. Empty seats greeted seminar halls with speakers either not turning up or leaving after a namesake presence. Volunteering government staff was used to fill up empty seats to save face.

- RK MISRA
 
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