Skip to main content

Gujarat: Vibrant PM’s global showcase begins even as petty thieves burgle, celebrate in Gandhinagar

By RK Misra*
A new year is a harbinger of hope. Optimism is the flavour of the season; so let’s go along.
Gandhinagar, the state capital of Gujarat, is glowing like the peach-coloured skin of an affluence soaked offspring. One of three man-made cities in India after Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar, it is decked up like never before. Gujarat’s first woman chief minister, Anandiben Patel has done in a few months what Narendra Modi could not, even in 13 years. She has given an absolute makeover to Gandhinagar.
The city has turned spanking new and could easily be mistaken for an American creation. As it stands today purely in terms of civic showmanship, it could do the country proud. How long it can remain this way in the face of our pan-spitting and street littering ways is anybody’s guess. But for the moment let’s luxuriate in likable thoughts.
The reason for this massive effort at makeover is that Gujarat’s capital, Gandhinagar, is hosting the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas, normally held in Delhi on January 7-9 and the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors’ Summit on January 11-13. January 14 happens to be the kite festival of Uttarayan, and the state would like to use this mega-event week to showcase its cultural-tourism potential to the large number of visiting guests from various parts of the country and abroad.
Besides Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, vice-president Hamid Ansari and state heads of other countries,30 fortune 500 company CEOs besides 200 others of high global profile are slated to attend. Over 5000 delegates for the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas (PBD) and 10,000 delegates for the Investors’ summit are expected. There is not a single room available in any hotel in the twin cities of Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar, and the State Real Estate builders’ body has been requested to make available 300 luxury flats lying unsold and an agency requisitioned to furnish them.
In all, a hundred chartered planes are expected at the Ahmedabad airport, but there is facility for hardly 30; the other planes will have to go to other airports in Gujarat or in neighbouring states to park. Three thousand luxury cars, the likes of BMWs and Mercedes, are on call for cab duty (daily rentals anywhere between Rs10,000 to Rs 25,000, say media reports) to ferry the top of the tops. Two hundred and fifty new jeeps for escorting convoys of VIPs, over 500 CCTVs on the airport-Gandhinagar road alone, three new helipads, a special PMO at the cost of Rs 6 crore for the PM, Harley Davidson motorcycles for the police… the list goes on and on.
An over 10,000 security contingent is in deployment and this includes representation from all conceivable national security agencies. A high-level meeting with the top brass of the three defence wings was held, and a special control room has been set up to coordinate with all three wings of the armed forces and Coast Guard, according to chief secretary DJ Pandian.
At the past Gujarat Investors’ Summits, Modi reveled with announcement of Rs one lakh crore worth of memorandums of understanding (MoUs), or more, to showcase his success. Now the official version is that there will henceforth be no MoU announcements, as the present seventh edition of the summit is donning the role of a business facilitator for other states as well.
But Uttar Pradesh has already struck a discordant note with its government claiming that chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s posters put up on the occasion in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar are being pulled down! Gujarat government has, meanwhile, let it be known unofficially that over 22,000 MoUs are likely to be signed at the summit.
According to highly reliable sources a sum of Rs 200 crore is being spent to show the best face of Gujarat. Old-time state watchers admit that even during Modi’s tenure so much resource was not splurged on sprucing up the city during previous Vibrant Gujarat Investors’ summits. The simple answer is that, previous summits showcased the state and thereby the state chief minister. Now, the two events are meant to showcase the work of a Prime Minister, and India is too vast and six months too small a timespan for it. Besides, there is hardly anything tangible and concrete to show at the national level. So Modi has to fall back on the past to project his future, and Gujarat must pick up the bill!
As the state pulls out all stops to this end, the run-up is also marked by a strategically-timed RSS conclave in Ahmedabad. A three day RSS conclave from January 2 to 4 attended by its entire top brass, besides over 25,000 activists, has just concluded last Sunday. It was here that Sangh ideologue MG Vaidya projected the not- so-subtle distinction between ‘homecoming’ (ghar vapasi) and religious conversion, terming the first as voluntary and the second as forced. The clear defiant message emanating from the meet was that the voluntary return agenda was age-old and shall continue irrespective of the murmurs.
Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not make it to the RSS conclave due to his ‘busy’ schedule, his bête noir Sanjay Joshi and sangh sevika Anandiben Patel did attend. This Sangh show of strength in Modi’s backyard with its emphasis on home-coming/religious conversion at a time when he is set to showcase his life’s biggest developmental achievement has great significance with far reaching political implications.
Interestingly, small peepholes sometimes provide big insights. Three small news items in a Sunday newspaper made for interesting reading.
The first item was how a deputy collector in Gujarat with a monthly salary of Rs 46,000 depositing Rs 49,000 every day in the bank account of his wife for three years, and according to his wife he owns properties worth over Rs 200 crore.
The second news item was a detailed account of how a national intelligence operation in the high seas off the Gujarat coast had led to the busting of a possible terror attempt from across the borders and the destruction of the fishing vessel. Some achievement this, but back home is a different story.
The third item was an account of how thieves had celebrated new year by burgling the district court in Gandhinagar and taken time out to sit within and have a celebratory eating programme before leaving.
All this when the city was teaming with cops who had turned Gandhinagar into an impregnable fortress in view of the forthcoming high profile events but could not stop petty thieves from burgling a court! Judge for yourself. Happy New Year folks!
---
*Senior Gandhinagar-based journalist

Comments

TRENDING

Women innovators on simple, revolutionary alternate solutions for water problems

By Proshakha Maitra, Mansee Bal Bhargava* The detrimental effects of uncontrolled population rise and accelerated change in the global climate have posed tremendous pressure on the water and sanitation. This calls all stakeholders, from both developed and developing nations, to improve their resilience and to instigate sustainability. It is more crucial than ever to optimise the use of the resources we have on hand since the world population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Alleged killing of another Bangladesh youth inside Indian territory: NHRC inquiry sought

By Kirity Roy* There was yet another incident of the killing of a Bangladeshi youth by the Border Security Force personnel attached with ‘Barthar’ BOP of ‘G’ Company of 75 BSF Battalion. In last five years several incidents of killings happened under this police station’s jurisdiction and the cases will get the award as “Not Guilty” as usual.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Modi model, Hindutva icon 'justified' alliance with Muslim League before Independence

By Shamsul Islam*  Our PM describes himself as ‘Hindu’ nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, MS Golwalkar (the other being VD Savarkar) and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Crusader for people’s causes, this Hollywood actor entered 'unexplored zones' in US

By Harsh Thakor*  Marlon Brando on April 3rd completes his birth centenary. He perished in 2004, on July 1, aged 80 years. Arguably in Hollywood Brando penetrated sensitivity and versatility at an unparalleled scale and discovered new horizons or explored path breaking zones in acting.

Nuclear power expansion: Is AEC's new, 'unrealistic' target fully backed by PMO?

By Shankar Sharma*  Another unrealistic and tall claim by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) has been announced: India is eyeing 100 GW nuclear power by 2047, the AEC chairman  AK Mohanty   has said. A few years ago, the dream target for the Indian nuclear establishment was 275,000 MWe of nuclear power by 2050 (as per DAE document of 2008 "A Strategy for the Growth of Electricity in India”). Now this target of 100 GW nuclear power by 2047. And as at the end of February 2024, the actual nuclear power capacity was only 7,480 MWe, which formed only 1.7% of the total power capacity in the country. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Indians witnessing 'regression to Hindutva politics' under Modi ahead of elections

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The forthcoming general election in India, scheduled from April 19, 2024, to June 1, 2024, to elect the 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha and the new Government of India, carries immense significance for the preservation of India's identity as a liberal, secular, and constitutional democracy.