Aggressively pushing “Make in Maharashtra” in China, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday sought investments and expertise in mega infrastructure projects on waterfronts, high-speed trains, metros and coastal roads. He also sought China’s cooperation in smart city projects in the state, which accounts for 30 per cent of India’s exports and 15 per cent of the GDP making it an economic powerhouse, and which has the highest urban population in India.
Stressing that there were ample opportunities to be tapped for mutual benefit, he cited the example of Mumbai and Shanghai benefiting from each other.
He said, “While both nations have over 100 companies operating in each other’s countries, the cumulative FDI is not more than USD 500 million. I believe there are untapped investment opportunities which both sides will have to mutually pursue for greater cooperation and economic prosperity.” Whether it is IT, bauxite, iron ore or infrastructure and human resources, Maharashtra is the destination for the next decade, he said.
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Fadnavis addressed the Forum of Leaders of the Region of India and China in Beijing where he outlined the socio-economic reforms undertaken by the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also dwelt at length on why China should invest more in Maharashtra.
An agreement to treat Aurangabad and Dunhuang city in Gansu province as sister cities to promote cultural tourism was signed between the chief minister and his counterpart.
Fadnavis also stressed that Mumbai and Shanghai were looking at each other for mutual economic benefits. “There is a lot of give and take that can help in development of these two cities which are symbols of economic prosperity in our respective countries,” he said.
He alluded to ties that had been existing between the two civilisations since the ancient times. He also mentioned a respected Maharastrian name in China, doctor Dwarkanath Kotnis, who served the people of China and made it his home. “Doctor Dwarkanath Kotnis, who hailed from Solapur (Maharashtra), had come to China and selflessly served the people. In gratitude, the people of China built his memorial at Shijiazhuang”. He announced that a Chinese Language cultural study centre will be established in Maharashtra in memory of Prof Jixian Lin who translated the Ramayana into Chinese language.
China has shown greater interest in partnering infrastructure-related projects in Maharashtra.
The chief minister said,””I have decided to make a special visit to Qingdao province to learn and understand from China advanced infrastructure development in coastal areas””
The sister cities agreement between Aurangabad and Dun Huang is to promote them as tourist centres. He said, “These two cities have deep cultural similarities housing the oldest Buddhist caves.”
Fadnavis said,“The visit to China is special in terms of promoting economic interest through bilateral trade and relations, and reviving ancient bonds based on culture and trade.”
“To meet the challenges of rapid urbanisation in rural India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled his vision of making cities smarter. Maharashtra, that houses the maximum urban population in India has to immensely contribute to smart cities project. We would look forward to Chinese expertise and investment in this smart cities project,” he added.
‘Human resources our strength’
Alluding to the fact that every third person in the world is either Chinese or Indian, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “Human resources is our strength which we can capitalise on. Our prime minister believes in co-operative federalism and development for all.” He thanked China’s premier Li Keqiiang and Modi for evolving the innovative Forum of Leaders of the Region of India and China.