|Modi pays respects to Swami Vivekananda on his birth anniversary in
Gandhinagar on Saturday. (PTI)
Gandhinagar, Jan. 12: After the big dreams of Day One, the spotlight on the second day of the Vibrant Gujarat summit was on “small”.
Narendra Modi, who shared the stage yesterday with leaders of Indian industry, today shifted focus on the state’s small and medium sector that has traditionally formed the spine of its economy and showcased its famed entrepreneurial talent.
“Those who witnessed yesterday’s and today’s gatherings will get an idea of the economic range operating in Gujarat. We give importance to big industrialists but we give much more significance to he small industrialists,” he said.
Since 2012, when Modi hosted the fifth Vibrant jamboree, Gujarat’s small and medium enterprises (SME) had piled pressure on him to recognise their contribution and start a special session for them. A complaint heard often in the run-up to the Assembly elections was that Modi’s economic outlook was “skewed” in favour of the big guns.
“The SMEs based in the outlying districts want to scale new heights. But nobody has yet shown them a way. So they think and live small. But their children want to break out of the gridlock and the problem is about closing the gap between the way the generations think.
“The older generation of SMEs is used to working in a risk-free environment with obsolete technology. The young generation wants to take risks, experiment with ideas. Platforms like Vibrant Gujarat have the potential to bring the two generations together,” Modi said today.
Stressing that SMEs must create jobs, he urged them to go for “mass production” and “production by the masses” but added that these concepts should be underpinned on two principles: zero compromise with quality and changing the “maalik-naukar” (master-servant) equation.
He advised the SMEs to recognise that global economic integration was here to stay and, therefore, they had to start thinking of taking their businesses beyond their “villages, districts and towns” to not just the rest of India but to the global market.
“Get aggressive and offensive. I know Gujarati businessmen can do it because they have perfected the skill of selling a comb to a bald person. I can also trust them to market refrigerators in Himachal Pradesh by selling the line of climate change and melting glaciers,” he said.
Modi’s other lessons to the SMEs were to adopt Net connectivity, start online trade, patent their products and go for environment-friendly technology because “these days, nothing sells better than the word ‘organic’.”
But behind the sudden concern for the small and medium sector was another reason. The reputation of the Vibrant Gujarat summit was founded on the number of MoUs inked at each event, running into crores of rupees. Gujarat government sources, however, admitted that barely 15 per cent of the investments pledged since 2003 had been realised. In 2005, 422 projects worth Rs 16,500 crore were signed. In 2011, the figure was 75.