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Govt parrots old homilies on biz

- Minister offers little of note to NRI investors at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas meet

The Bihar government on Thursday tried to woo NRI investors with the usual promises of business friendly governance and industrial policy but the state’s representatives failed to give any concrete commitment on issues related to availability of land, power and infrastructure to boost industrial prospects.

Speaking on the concluding day of the 12th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, state industries minister Renu Kumari repeated her pet lines about how Bihar, being a agrarian economy, was adopting various measures to promote agro-based industries.

She was addressing a gathering of NRI investors, many of them of Bihari expatriates, during a session featuring some of the progressing states that included Gujarat, Bihar and Kerala.

“We have come up with an industrial policy that is probably the most investor friendly in the country. Bihar is the first state to have come up with an agriculture cabinet. But it’s not all about the state. Since 2006, when the state investment promotion board was established, we have approved 767 projects worth Rs 8,101 crore. We are only developing as an economy and secondary and tertiary sectors are yet to spread wings but the growth in the primary sector has been commendable,” said the minister.

She also hailed expat Biharis “with sharp minds who had driven the IT revolution worldwide”.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar stayed away from the meet on a day his Gujarat counterpart and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, wowed the audience with his promises and witty remarks against the Congress-led UPA government, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is being celebrated every year by the ministry of overseas Indian affairs between January 7 and 9 since 2003 to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community to the development of India and to commemorate the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to Bombay in 1915.

Renu Kumari meanwhile boasted of how Bihar had been growing at a fast rate and the impetus was on “inclusive growth that people trust”.

“We have been able to maintain law and order. Agriculture is our strength and therefore, the food processing industry would do well. We have also registered a steady rise in the number of tourists. There is an immense opportunity for investors because there is a huge local market, labour is cheap and also the government is offering lots of industrial investment incentives,” she said.

Many NRIs attending the meet had queries and suggestions related to the state. An NRI businessman from Qatar complained that a lot of people were migrating there to work in the field of education but most of them were unskilled.

The former Vice-Premier of Mauritius, Pravin Jugnauth, who is of Bihari descent, said a lot of people in his country find it difficult to trace their roots in the state. Renu Kumari assured him that the resident commissioner of Bihar in New Delhi would be assigned to assist those people.


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