Arya Sharma/ Catch News
The shadow of the recent large-scale Jat reservation violence still looms large over Haryana. But the Manohar Lal Khattar government took the bold decision to go ahead with the 'Happening Haryana Global Investors Summit' on 7-8 March in Gurgaon.
The event will, however, be without any glitz. The government has decided to cut the programme short by dropping the Pravasi Haryana Divas, slated for 9 March. It has been pushed ahead to state's golden jubilee celebrations, starting 1 November this year.
Also, celebratory events like a golf session and a cultural evening at the Kingdom of Dreams have been called off.
Haryana suffered a spell of violence and arson when members of the Jat community took to the streets, demanding reservation in educational institutions and jobs. This led to uncertainty over the event, on which the state government had been working for several months.
As a precursor to the event Khattar and his industries minister, Capt Abhimanyu, led official delegations to Japan and China, besides organising road shows in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.
The BJP government in the state wants to showcase Haryana as an industrial investment destination. The event is on the lines of the ones being held annually in Gujarat and, more recently, in Punjab.
Observers point out that such summits are inspired by the Vibrant Gujarat summits started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he held the office of the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The summits organised by Modi had helped him rebuild his image and that of Gujarat after the beating that it took in the wake of the 2002 communal riots in the state.
The summits saw a large number of potential foreign and domestic investors turning up to sign MoUs worth thousands of crores, that were later flaunted by Modi and his party in subsequent elections. It's a different matter that there are questions over how many of these MoUs actually materialised on the ground.
Haryana is expected to witness a similar signing of MoUs during the summit.
Khattar claims that 12 countries will participate in the first 'Happening Haryana Global Investors' Summit-2016', and hopes it will be a historic event. He says entrepreneurs have assured him of their keenness in investing in the state.
The event is being organised by the state government, in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Sources said a prominent Mumbai-based advertising firm has been roped in to ensure that it gets proper publicity.
Khattar said the countries that would be represented during the summit include China, Czech Republic, Japan, Republic of Malawi, Mauritius, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Republic of Peru, Republic of Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom and the Tunisian Republic.
Abhimanyu disclosed that there would be large-scale participation from the Union government. He said more than 800 entrepreneurs from India and other countries would participate in the summit on the first day. The participants during the event will also include representatives of 140 foreign companies, along with ambassadors and high commissioners of different countries.
The minister has claimed that well-known industrialists such as China's Wanda Group have decided to invest in Haryana, and despite the recent incidents in the state, Japan has proposed to become a partner country in the event.
Saying that even the people wanted to ensure the safety of industries - thus, when the law and order situation in the state was disturbed, people provided protection to industries and drove away protestors.
Abhimanyu said there would be special emphasis on start-ups for the youth, and start-up boot camps have been organised in different colleges and universities in the state. He has expressed confidence that the investment target would be achieved.
The Haryana government has promised 24-hour power supply to industry, even though it neither has any hydel project nor coal mines to run thermal power plants.
Over the last few months, the state government has been sending strong feelers to industry on its sincerity towards promoting entrepreneurs in the state.
Khattar had recently announced that the government is moving towards ushering in labour reforms.
The Khattar government had also come out with an industrial policy last year spelling incentives for the industry.
According to Abhimanyu, Haryana has implemented the 'Ease of Doing Business' programme launched by Modi. He said the work on the long-pending Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway has been restarted and the Manesar-Palwal stretch is nearly complete. The Kundli-Manesar stretch would be completed within the next 400 days, he added.
To facilitate investments, the state government has proposed amendments to further liberalise the Estate Management Procedures-2015 (EMP-2015) of the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC). The minister said the EMP-2015 is in line with the liberal approach of the Enterprises Promotion Policy-2015. The EMP-2015 contains guidelines for management of industrial estates, prescribing the terms and conditions of allotment, time extension, transfer and leasing of plots and all other related processes and procedures to be followed by the corporation and allottees of plots or sheds.
Observers say that by going ahead with the event despite the recent violence, the state government is trying to re-build its image and send across the message that Haryana might be down but not out as an investment destination.
"Had they decided to cancel the event, it would have sent across the wrong signal. They are trying to salvage whatever they can in the present scenario," said an observer.
But at the same time, it is being assumed that Khattar and Abhimanyu will have to answer some tough questions during the summit. It is being pointed that the aim of the summit was to bring investment to Haryana as a whole, and not only to Gurgaon, Ballabhgarh and Faridabad. Industry that wants to come to these places would have come otherwise too.
The question remains: how would the government convince investors to come to the state's heartland, including districts like Rohtak, Jind, Jhajjar etc., which saw massive violence recently?
The government will also have to answer on the frequent labour unrest that has been reported, particularly from Manesar, over the last few years.
Opposition parties are already attacking the government for going ahead with the event. "Haryana has indeed become 'happening' recently, but for all the wrong reasons. The event is nothing but propaganda. Who would want to invest here after what has happened? Even the existing entrepreneurs are threatening to migrate elsewhere. The government should first ensure safety of these people before calling in fresh investors," said Tarun Bhandari of the Congress.
State unit president of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), Dr Ashok Arora, added: "It is a useless exercise till there is proper atmosphere in the state. The government should first work towards promoting brotherhood between various communities in the state. It must make people feel secure first."
But the government remains unfazed, and claims that despite the fact that there was turmoil, there is no negative sentiment as far as investment climate is concerned.
Edited by Shreyas Sharma
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