The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Chief ministers choose politics over pravasis

New Delhi, Jan. 11: Politics overtook economics at the concluding day of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, organised by the ministry of external affairs along with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry for the second year running.

Reporters waited in anticipation that at the session to discuss methods for leveraging the NRIs for the purposes of investments, they would see the likes of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and the newly-elected and tonsured Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti.

Alas, they were where the political action of the BJP is… at the ongoing annual session of the BJP in Hyderabad. Andhra Pradesh chief minister, Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party, who was also scheduled to attend, decided to stay away as well.

The only chief minister who had time to dwell on the possibilities of leveraging the diaspora for states was Om Prakash Chautala, the chief minister of Haryana. A gung-ho Chautala was confident of attracting foreign investment in his state.

“Recently four American companies — Agilent, InfoUSA, Global Vantedge and Amex — preferred Gurgaon in Haryana to Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, because of Gurgaon’s superior infrastructure,” crowed Chautala.

“With its investor-friendly policies, the skyline of Gurgaon will soon start resembling that of Singapore,” he said. Perhaps he went a little overboard when he said: “Haryana has the potential to emerge as the California of India in my and your lifetime.”

Although Narendra Modi was missed, his colleagues tried to make up for his absence.

Ashok Bhatt, the minister for law, parliamentary affairs and NRI/NRG, Gujarat, said: “The growth of the state domestic product of Gujarat is 2-3 per cent more than the gross domestic product of India. We are here to invite you to come and invest in Gujarat. The rate of return will be faster than in any other place.”

“I promise that in a year’s time there will be no difference between the development of Kutch and Singapore.” Singapore seems to be the model for many.

The session on Madhya Pradesh chose to focus on the month-long Kumbh Mela that will start on April 5. Satya Prakash, commissioner and secretary, public relations, said that apart from the tourism opportunities the state provides on account of its rich cultural heritage, it has business opportunities in logistics, biotechnology, and traditional herbs.

“Madhya Pradesh, being centrally located, can become the logistics and warehousing hub of the country. The state government also has a liberal policy in allocating land to investors,” Satya Prakash said.

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