Dr. M pushes for OCI investment in Kashmir

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Dr. M (Bhupendra Kumar Modi). Photo: smartgroup.com

Dr. M (Bhupendra Kumar Modi), a renowned social entrepreneur, philanthropist, author and the chairman of Smart Group, and the Singapore-based India business conglomerate, Spice Global, and who serves as the Honorary President of the World Federation of United Nations Organizations (a UN affiliated NGO), is on a massive drive to boost investment in Kashmir from Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs).

Dr. M, a Singapore citizen, was born in 1949 to the visionary industrialist Gujarmal Modi and Dayawati Modi in Modinagar, Gujarat. He completed his primary schooling from the Scindia School, Gwalior; graduated with a degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-BHU) and received an MBA from the University of Southern California. He has been awarded a Ph.D. in financial management and Doctor of Letters in Industrial Management, according to Wikipedia.

Modi started his career in Modi Steel, one of the prime units of his family business, Modi Group. In 1975, as head of Modi Rubber, he made the first Indo-International technical collaboration in the tyre industry with Continental (Germany).

He laid the foundation for his business empire by setting up Graphics India which became the sole distributor of Rank Xerox copiers in India and formed Modi Xerox as a joint-venture with Xerox. In 1987, he formed a joint-venture with Olivetti (Italy), Modi Olivetti which became the first Indian joint venture to manufacture advanced PCs and floppy disks. He entered into a joint venture with Alcatel (France), Alcatel Modi Network Systems in 1992 which was the first Indian private sector company to manufacture telecom equipment and export digital switching systems. It was also the first in setting up a GSM network in India.

In 1993, Dr. M’s company Modi Telstra became the first company to launch cellular services in India which received the first Telecom Engineering Commission Certification of Quality. The first ever mobile call in India was placed on the Modi Telstra network by the then Chief Minister of Kolkata, Jyoti Basu to Sukh Ram, the then Union communications minister, in July 1995. Later, he formed Axiata Spice Communications, a joint-venture with Axiata Group Network which went on to become the leading telecom operator in Northern and Southern India.

In 1994, he entered into a joint-venture with International Paper, Plus Paper FoodPac, which pioneered the manufacture of eco-friendly paper containers for the foodservice industry.

In 2000, Modi established Cellebrum (now Spice Digital) as the first Indian mobile value-added services company for telecom operators and then in 2004, he founded Spice Hotspot (now Spice Retail) which was the first Indian mobile retail chain. In 2009, he formed Si2i, a listed company in the Singapore Exchange, by acquiring a major stake in the i2i and in 2013, he launched Smart GMMH a healthcare ecosystem which includes medical and independent living facilities, hospitals, medical offices and life sciences & research center.

He founded ModiCiti in 2015, which is a private smart city situated near Moradabad. In 2016, his company Smart Group tied-up with the Hong Kong-based BYD auto industry company to build the electric vehicle manufacturing unit at Modiciti.

In January 2013, he founded the Global Citizen Forum (GCF) which works towards creating a sustainable and integrated world community in an ever-changing world. GCF periodically organizes events across the globe that are attended by a wide-ranging audience from business leaders and head of states to ordinary citizens.

He has also delved into the world of films. He has co-produced the Hindi films ‘2010, No Problem’, and ‘OMG – Oh My God!’. He also produced the TV series ‘Buddha’.

He has been given many honors, including in 2013 the “Ambassador of Peace” award conferred by the Universal Peace Foundation and was appointed as the coordinator for the Indian subcontinent for the millennium world peace summit by the United Nations.

In 2014, the US House of Representatives issued a proclamation in appreciation of his efforts to promote deeper understanding between the countries and congratulated him on his innovations and humanitarian efforts worldwide.

In 2015, he received the Lifetime Achievement Luminary Award by Channel NewsAsia, Singapore. He has also got the ‘Outstanding Telecom & Informatics Entrepreneurship Award’ and ‘British-Japan Friendship Award’. For his incessant efforts to promote world peace and harmony, Dr. M was conferred with the British-Japan Friendship Award for World Peace. He is also the recipient of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce Annual Award.

Dr. M has led the OCI investment in India for decades.

In May of this year, he led an initiative in Delhi to boost investment in Kashmir from OCIs. Through ‘Reviving Kashmir – Leading a positive resolution to a global issue’, he has sought to unite global Indians to rebuild the economy of Kashmir using tourism as a tool for prosperity and development.

Dr. M’s initiatives are in line with the ‘New India’ mission led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi where policies have been modified to allow FDI in tourism, hospitality and an expansion of ‘Make in India,’ according to a press release.

The Modi government has adopted a multilateral approach towards peace in Kashmir highlighting the region’s traditional hospitality and cultural values to create large scale job opportunities. The government also has a zero tolerance policy towards Kashmir, coupled with their anti-corruption and ease of doing business efforts that are being implemented pan-India.

According to Modi, the promise of lasting peace would attract global investors to this ‘Heaven on Earth’, as Kashmir is known as, says the press release.

Dr. M has met with leading land bank owners and lawyers in Kashmir regarding joint investment or partnership opportunities between OCI and local residents/landowners. He has proposed to reinvigorate tourism in Kashmir by development of 100 global hotels and resorts.

According to his proposal, local residents will be the asset partners and OCIs to be capital partners, and investment to be conducted within the ambit of the current legal framework of Jammu & Kashmir.

Any non-resident can take ‘Immovable Property’ on lease in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, in pursuance to the “Jammu & Kashmir Transfer of Property Act, 1977” and rules made there under. The immovable properties in the state, have been leased out for a period of 99 years and can be subsequently further renewed.

J&K was to get a new tourism policy that would lay a development roadmap till 2030 and is awaited, with a projected INR 30,000 crore investment from private sector players in the next decade. The draft policy was committed to a public-private partnership in hospitality. It acknowledged the immediate requirement for standard and competitive accommodation facilities and the need to increase the number of average hotel beds per thousand in J&K.

Land Banks will be developed to offer land identified for construction of 5 star hotels to private sector at market price/lease/joint venture within the identified circuits. All Nazool Land under unauthorized occupation in Srinagar/ Jammu Municipal Corporations and vacant State lands at other tourist destinations be considered for transferring to Tourism Department or to entrepreneurs in hospitality business for such infrastructure creation on the terms and conditions devised by the revenue department and Housing and Urban Development Department, according to the press release.

The department will focus on development of rural tourist villages to showcase the rural life, art, culture and heritage at rural locations. A total of 50 villages have been identified under this scheme where the focus will be on home stay facilities for tourists, according to the press release.

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