Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 7th edition of Vibrant Gujarat Summit, hosted by the Gujarat government, today.
Modi told business delegations and visitors from over an 100 countries that India was the ideal place to invest because of low-cost manufacturing, a high quality workforce, and a young population. He also promised to create favourable conditions for setting up businesses with ease in the country.
"We assure you that we will be available to hold your hand," he said.
Modi, who served as chief minister of Gujarat for over a decade, launched the biennial summit in 2003. On Sunday, he said that the world was tremendously interested in India because of its 3Ds: "democracy, demography and demand."
The three-day event in Gandhinagar is also being attended by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Secretary Kerry said that his presence confirmed his country's commitment to strengthening economic relations. "India and U.S. can do more to work together and we have to do it faster," he said.
Kerry also used the forum to speak out against the two global crises: terrorism and climate change. "We will see climate change refugees fighting each other for water and seeking food," he said. "The solution to climate change is sustainable energy policy."
Eight countries, including the US, Canada, Australia and Japan, have partnered with the summit for the first time. Gujarat expects to sign over 20,000 Expression of Interest (EoI) during the summit.
At the announcement of the 7th edition, last year, Modi said that the event had "transformed itself from an investment promotion exercise into a growth propelling event." "Transcending state boundaries, the summit has emerged as a significant national and international platform of sharing knowledge, ideas and innovations," he said.
Reliance India Ltd. announced an investment of Rs. 1 lakh crore in Gujarat, and the Aditya Birla Group announced an investment of Rs. 20,000 crores in the state.
"We are proud to be a Gujarati company. We have invested in Gujarat time and again to convert a business vision into reality,” said Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance.
In his inaugural blog for HuffPost India, India and the United States: Our Time Has Come, Secretary Kerry wrote that two-way investment between the two countries is booming:
Secretary Kerry wrote that Ford Motor Company is spending $1 billion to turn its new auto plant in Gujarat, U.S. subsidiaries of Indian-owned companies employ 45,000 people in the U.S., and the U.S. is encouraging utility firms to help bring power to every Indian home before the end of the decade -- an important step toward achieving his other ambition, building a $10 trillion Indian economy by 2030.
"The fruits of these partnerships are already extraordinary," he wrote in his November blog. "But the greatest dividends from our partnership will be realized in the future."
IANS reported that the US-India Business Council (USIBC) is attending the summit with the largest-ever business delegation from the US including several Fortune 500 CEOs and senior executives.
Ajay Banga, president and CEO of MasterCard, US India Business Council chief told the gathering at the summit that he was educated in Ahmedabad and considered himself a product of Gujarat.
Speaking at the summit, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said that India's economic growth will be 6.4 percent this year and will increase next year. "India is on the cusp of major progress in reducing the number of people living in major poverty,” he said.
Meanwhile, Indian National Congress Party leaders called for a strike against the summit in Gujarat.
PTI reported that Congress is criticising the expenditure on the summit when farmers are suffering because of low minimum support prices of cotton and groundnut.