The picture was loaded with meaning. In response to the PM’s directive, the UP CM was holding a single flower, wrapped in plain paper, to welcome PM Narendra Modi to the UP Investors Summit. It was like the prefect who remembers what the principal says in the assembly, and remains primus inter pares on account of such attention to detail.
The PM of course, is the MP from Varanasi; the CM has represented Gorakhpur 5 times and the Hon HM, who was present on the occasion, is the MP from Lucknow. Between them, they are possibly the heaviest weights in the current administration. This reflects the importance of UP in the legislative, political and financial scheme of things.
UP gave the NDA 73 out of 80 seats in the LS14 & returned the verdict by possibly one of the biggest victories for the NDA anywhere, 325 / 403 in VS17. It is the second largest contributor to the country’s GDP, but is at the same time, struggling with a decades-long legacy of misrule and loot, migration and brain drain, and a history of communal clashes in its largest cities. “If UP picks up to grow 50% faster,” Shobhana Kamineni, president of the CII said at the UP Investors’ Summit, “India would add 1.5% points to its GDP, reach the 8% target easily..and become Uttam Pradesh.”
The UP Investors’ Summit, held in Lucknow on 21st and 22nd of February, 2018, was the first of its kind organised on a grand scale by the UP Govt in partnership with FICCI, whose President Rashesh Shah gave a ringing endorsement to the leadership of Mahant Adityanath, the charismatic monk who is restoring law and order in UP on war footing.
The state’s widely publicised swift justice style and social media savvy Police PR account, has infused a much needed sense of lightness & trust. Response to any distress signal from a single number 100 for police, fire and emergency services, is underpinned by procurement of about 3400 motorcycles and 990 four-wheelers and supported by Location Based Services tracking and geo mapping.
Senior officers personally met with corporate leaders to reassure them. The HM in his speech, highlighted that UP was now a part of the CISF & Bharat per se was very serious about four types of defined industrial security – Physical, Data and Infosec, Contingency Planning & finally, Cyber Security. The HM was happy to link this with the new DGP of UP Police, OP Singh, who has served the country in various capacities in the PAC, CISF, NDRF & CRPF.
While Mr. Rashesh Shah pledged continued entrepreneurial support through state wide incubators, Ms. Kamineni pledged that CII would work closely with the GoUP on job creation, Agri and Food processing, Skill Development, water management and primary education. Within one hour of opening the FICCI organised event, news started rolling in. As the PM & top ministers of his cabinet watched, India Inc. loosened its purse strings in an unprecedented show of doing Business in UP.
Of the 5000 CEOs estimated to have attended, Gautam Adani promised an investment of Rs. 35 K Cr in power, metro rail & food processing; Kumaramangalam Birla 25 K Cr in telecom, manufacturing & chemicals; Mukesh Ambani 10 K Cr over 3 years, along with promises of mobile and digital connectivity in every village in UP by year end, & CSR on the Namami Gange Project. Representing TATA Sons, N Chandra said TCS would open a campus for 30,000 people among other investments; ITC a factory, logistics hub & greenfield exploration; Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group, Anand Mahindra’s M&M, Oppo, WTC, Walmart, BSNL, HPCL, Pulsus, The Lulu Group were among the marquee names that signed MoUs worth 4.8 lac Cr on the first day, being roughly the same value as the GoUP’s budget for the year, and when the session finally closed, another 4 lac Cr was expected to roll in.
Each Minister stepped up to announce projects designed to pull some of the worst hit districts out of disappointment and despair.
- The PM announced the new Defence Industrial Corridor at Rs. 20 K Cr, covering Aligarh, Agra, Jhansi, Chitrakoot, Kanpur and Lucknow, which would generate 2.5 lac jobs. He announced two new international airports at Kushinagar and Jewar & 11 more in the near future. He also launched the Nivesh Mitra portal as a single window digital project clearance system for nearly 70 different applications.
- The CM himself stressed on Eco and Heritage Tourism, Civil Aviation and Renewable Energy as priority sectors & reminded attendees that of 100, 10 Smart Cities were chosen from UP. He said that the GoUP was looking at generating 40 lac jobs in the next three years. He promised to chase the MoUs to implementation personally.
- Railways Minister Piyush Goyal bolstered the Tourism sector further with the promise of a Heritage line to Dudhwa National Park, raising the manufacturing capacity of the Raebareilly Coach Factory to 1000 through 3000 by the end of 2020. A Rail Ancillary Park for Fatehpur & a Rail Coach Reforming factory in Jhansi will both raise the socioeconomic profile of the region.
- Prof. Akbar, the MD of IIM Lucknow promised an incubator to commercialise 100 patent pending ideas of entrepreneurs, even as the CM announced Rs. 250 Cr earmarked for startups across UP.
- Of the sunrise sectors, Pharma and Biotech generated Rs. 6970 Cr worth of investment through 34 MoUs. Anupriya Patel, the minister in charge, was seen in animated conversations with large investors through the day.
- As widely expected, Renewables invited the maximum investment of Rs. 67 K Cr through 46 MoUs through the session, including for power plants.
- The state’s much lauded One District One Product scheme (ODOP) featured in several dignitaries’ speeches as a laudable effort to encourage MSME & skilled production of hyperlocal specialities.
The Finance Minister’s session spoke about Skill India, since the informal & MSME sector that employ apprentices and semi skilled workers, is largest in UP. The President wrapped the day with an appeal to UPwallahs to welcome investment and investors such that they have an emotional investment in the state.
As told to me, the city was spruced up from head to toe to welcome the visitors. There was a buzz, a curiosity among folk in at least the 4 major cities I spoke to, and a feeling that Yogi Adityanath was upto something grand. It is indeed now up to the people of the state to grab all opportunities with both hands.
Round the clock test runs and prep went into ensuring things went off without a glitch. The most important thing for residents & keen watchers of the policy and political space, was that the news coming out of UP wasn’t one of despair, poverty or communal deaths. It was all about hope and aspirations and planning for the future and for youth.
Mahant Adityanath has a humongous task in front of him, restoring normalcy and then primacy to the state to stop migration & slide into crime & corruption. It was a call sent to him, to see if the first time Chief Minister could pull something of this scale and scope off to the satisfaction of the notoriously detailed Prime Minister.
By all accounts, not least the PM himself, it seems to have gone on pretty well.
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