Vibrant Gujarat: Doing trade with tradition

By Ashok Kumar

gujarat delSydney, Aug.10 : Last week, a delegation of CEOs, businessmen led by Mr Pankaj Kumar, IAS, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation visited Sydney and held a Roadshow (seminar) at the Indian Consulate, Sydney to give an insight into the progress made by Gujarat.

“There is a  famous saying that if a Gujarati is walking and drops a Rs. 500 note, he will not waste time in stopping and picking up the note because a good Gujarati businessman would earn another 500 rupees note further down the lane.” This sums up the business acumen of a Gujarati.

With its progressive policies, business-friendly environment, Gujarat has emerged as a model of inclusive and sustainable development. With focus on developing an enabling ecosystem through sharing of knowledge, technology, experience, skill and values, Gujarat has positioned itself a globally preferred destination for business and investment.

Gujarat takes its name from Gujjar, an ancient ethnic community. The State is home to major sites of the Indus Valley civilisation such as Lothal and Dholavira. Dholavira is the world’s oldest reservoir while Lothal is famous for having ancient ruins of world’s fist dockyard. Rich in history and booming with prosperity, Gujarat has earned the identity of being the growth- engine of India.

Australia’s trade with India stands at $ 13.565 billion in 2014-15 and was a partner country to Vibrant Gujarat 2015 summit where about 200 delegates from Australia led by Hon. Mr Andrew Robb, Minister for Trade, took part and organised country seminar.

Mr. Pankaj Kumar, giving a presentation, touched upon the salient features about Gujarat and why it is the most preferred destination for business and investment. Gujarat boasts of:

  • Implementation of end-to-end online system for consents and authorization with fee calculation • Setting up of Investor Facilitation Portal that provides details and timelines for various services across departments • Enacted an online workflow based web application for applying for registrations and renewals • Introduced integrated inspection procedures enabling joint inspections and timely submissions of reports • Institutionalized an online system for VAT, CST and professional tax related services • Mandated issuance of VAT and professional tax registration certificates within one working day.vanlal

Gujarat asks you to trade with tradition, commerce with culture and grow through governance. When asked about the effect of social unrest and change of chief Minister on business and trade, he was very straightforward in his reply,” politicians come and go but business continues and social unrest is a temporary phase and will not affect business or trade.” To another question that Australia is not a manufacturing country, then what the roadshow is looking for, he said there are so many things like, cooperation in education, defence, smart cities, skills development, mining and clean air etc.

Giving snap shots, he revealed that Gujarat covers 6% of India’s geographical area and has 5% of India’s population. A large percentage 7.14 % of GDP comes from Gujarat, 10% of India’s factories are in the State with 19% of country’s export and also industrial output. 41% of India’s Port Cargo handled by Gujarat ports and has second highest wind and solar power capacity in India.

Needless to say that Gujarat with its 1,600 Kms coastline is well connected to all trade routes all over the world. The State acts as a gateway to northern and central markets of India and provides immense business opportunities. A major attraction in today’s technological age, Gujarat has ambitious plans for aerospace and defence sectors. It plans India’s first Aviation Park to serve as one- stop destination for aerospace training, research and manufacturing. Gujarat has 22 of the 121 licences for defence equipment manufacturing—highest in India. Gujarat boasts of landmark developments and churning out 0.7 million graduates to the state talent pool every year with one of the top management institutes in the country, the IIM, Ahmedabad. It has developed Gujarat International Finance Tec City (GIFT) and Dholera Special Investment Region. Dholera is planned to be a smart city with international airport.

Mr. Kumar laid special emphasis on Dholera as it is going to be the ultimate destination. The investment opportunities in Dholera proposed are heavy Engineering• Automobiles & Auto Ancillary• Aerospace & Defence• Aircrafts Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO)• Electronics, Hi-tech Technologies• General Manufacturing and Agro & Food Processing.

The gathering was also addressed by Consul General of India in Sydney Mr. B. Vanlalvawna and National Chair of Australia India Business Council Ms. Sheba Nandkeolyar

Earlier, welcoming the delegates and the participants, Mr. Vanlalvawna said,” Today, India is the “bright spot” in the global economy. It is the fastest growing large economy in the world growing at 7.6 % and the future growth projections of the Indian economy are positive. In fact, during this financial year, the Finance Ministry of India expects the Indian economy to touch the 8% growth mark.  India has wit essed strong growth in sectors like ‘financing, insurance, real estate and business services’ which grew at 11.5 per cent and ‘trade, hotels, transport, communication services’  which grew at 10.7%. These are also sectors where Australia has strengths and advantages and therefore the potential to find common ground is enormous.

The general outlook of the Indian economy is promising. Today, our CPI inflation which was 9.4 % in the last 3 years has come down to 5.5%. Current account deficit has declined to around $ 14 billion and it is expected to be contained at round 1.4%. Similarly, fiscal deficit has been kept at sub 4% at 3.5% of GDP. The passing of bankruptcy laws and the bright prospects of adopting the GST bill will further energise the economy. High level of forex reserve of USD 350 billion is another positive indicator of the economy.

India and Australia are natural partners because of the common heritage we share. These commonalities have indeed placed us in a much advantaged position to take our relations forward.

We have now largely opened up our defence production sector, the civil aviation sector, insurance, railway infrastructure etc

We have introduced various IT enabled platforms to make registration of companies, filing of returns etc easier. The creation of E-biz portal is one example. Bills have been introduced to help start up companies. Introduction of other far reaching reforms including creating provisions for registration of companies in one day, custom single window project at airports, granting of residency status for investors over and above 5 year visa are few examples

Following reforms introduced by the government of India recently, India has become the most open economy in the world for Foreign Direct Investments.

Australia’s inherent strengths in the education sector,  in the development of smart cities, and agriculture and food processing sector makes it a suitable partner for Indian business.

Sheba Nandkeolyar apprised the gathering about the AIBC experience of taking the delegations to Vibrant Gujarat summits. The benefits of international collaboration are very evident in Gujarat. She urged Australian businesses to connect with the delegation members and understand the opportunities. AIBC will be taking a delegation again to Vibrant Gujarat Summit in Jan 2017 that is being held on 10-13 January, 2017.

. Mr. Palak Sheth, Director, Planning and Development, PDPU, gave the vote of thanks.



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About Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 38 years of experience in the profession in various capacities. He was a sub-editor in Patriot and later Chief Sub-editor in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He has several published articles and reports in Patriot and HT. Published reports in The Blacktown Sun in Sydney. He had also been a tutor in journalism in the University of Western Sydney. He is currently Editor at The Indian Sub-continent Times, Sydney.

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