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India Inc was very generous in its praise for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who inaugurated the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit at a packed Mahatma Mandir in the state's capital on Friday.
Industry captains made it clear Modi was the man they trusted. While RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani referred to India's largest private firm as a "Gujarati company", his brother Anil went one up. Describing Modi as "a king among kings", he compared the chief minister with Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabbhai Patel and Dhirubhai Ambani. Anil, however, stopped short of committing any fresh investment.
The man of the moment, fresh from his third victory in the state polls, was grinning from ear to ear as audiences clapped incessantly.
But the generosity towards investment commitment was muted at least on the inaugural day, compared to earlier years. In a departure from past summits, only three firms - Reliance Industries (Rs 1,00,000 crore over three years), Essar (Rs 14,000 crore) and Jubilant Lifesciences (Rs 1,300-1,500 crore) - gave firm commitments. These projects would create close to 15,000 jobs directly and indirectly.
However, the final investment commitment figure would come only at the conclusion of the summit. Last year's edition of the summit had attracted investment proposals worth Rs 20 lakh crore.
But Modi said the summit was not just about investments. "It is about injecting positivity in the economic environment. It is about inducting togetherness in our socio-economic activities. It is about bringing global and local inclusiveness in our economic processes," he said.
The Gujarat growth model, Modi said, was the way ahead for other developing nations since the state's development model was recognised internationally and replicated by other states. He also promised creation of three million additional jobs through the state's development initiatives.
India Inc clearly agreed. Ratan Tata, former chairman of Tata Sons, talked about the group's earlier commitment to invest Rs 34,000 crore in the state, which "gives investors a sense of fulfilment".
On his part, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra reserved his praise for the people of Gujarat. "There is magic in the salt that Gujaratis put in their food. It gives them such unique entrepreneurial spirit," he added. Maruti Suzuki India Chairman R C Bhargava found Gujarat a better state to invest in than other parts of the country. "After meeting Modi, I found the reality to be far better than what people had talked about," added Bhargava, who called Gujarat a second home for Maruti