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Mumbai GIFTs It Off

Mumbai GIFTs It Off

The country’s financial capital loses out to PM’s Gandhinagar brainchild

Mumbai GIFTs It Off Reuters (From Outlook 08 June 2015)

Big Man’s Baby

  • GIFT, Modi’s dream project for Gujarat, will be ready by 2016.
  • Mumbai has lost its sheen as a business hub because of its shoddy infrastructure, slow bureaucratic processes
  • The Bandra-Kurla complex has come a cropper owing to space shortage
  • Maharashtra is now looking at developing the Thane-Belapur corridor
  • But this will take time. Mumbai may have missed the big business bus.

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In late April, Maharahstra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was in Israel, seeking cooperation from Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai for creating smart cities. But Fadnavis’s appeal was in the looming shadow of another city-related battle, a losing one at that: holding on to International Financial Centre (IFC) status for Mumbai. It all began eight years ago, in June 2007—when being a chief minister must have been far from Fadnavis’s mind. As chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi had then unveiled plans for the Gujarat International Finance Tec-city (GIFT), to be located outside Gandhinagar, and projected it to become the world’s biggest IFC. At that time, Modi was of course throwing a direct challenge to then Union finance minister P. Chidambaram, who had just two months ago, April 2007, announced plans to pitch Mumbai as an IFC. Now, with Modi as prime minister, and the GIFT project powering ahead to a scheduled completion in 2016­—the first phase is nearly done—the plans for Mumbai are clearly under stress. But with its firm position as the country’s leading financial and commercial hub—so long uncontested—being challenged by other states seeking to create business hubs, it had to do something to remain a magnet for domestic and foreign investment.

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