Financial Services Roundtable on 10th Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2022

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Financial Roundtable relating to 10th Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit held in New York Dec. 1, 2021. Photo: ITV Gold

A Financial Services Round Table presentation of Gujarat International Finance Tec (GIFT) City was held at the Indian Consulate in New York December 1st.  Attended by more than 45 Financial Services players from various segments, the Round Table involved presentations, talks and questions and answers. Part of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit Delegation which is in New York promoting the summit to be held in Gujarat on January 10, 2022, the Financial Services Delegation had earlier visited an Indian Diaspora event in New Jersey attended by more than 225 participants who were desirous of understanding the upcoming summit and the opportunities that the Indian state of Gujarat offers to entrepreneurs.

According to Dipesh Shah, Head of IFSC, GIFT City, there was a huge interest from the participants to know about the GIFT City Project which is setting up India’s first International Financial Services Center. “This is unique because a lot of global investors always look at the finance centers to participate in India,” Shah said to ITV Gold, adding that the role of GIFT City was very well appreciated. “We have seen a great amount of interest from the Fund Industry, from the Banking Industry and various Financial Services players. We continue to see a larger interest from new entities and new products which can be brought into the GIFT City,” Shah said.

“Today’s summit ended on a positive note with inviting the participants to the upcoming January 2022 Vibrant Gujarat Summit. There was a huge interest to come to Gujarat and experience the International Financial Services at GIFT City in Gujarat,” Shah added.

Malachy Nugent, president of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, speaking at the Financial Roundtable held in New York Dec. 1, 2021, relating to the 10th Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit to be held in India Jan. 10-12, 2022. Photo: ITV Gold
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Speaking to the gathering, Malachy Nugent, President at the U.S. India Strategic Partnership Forum (ISPF) said, “We are seeing in India the economy is really picking up. It is going to grow 8 to 9 per cent this year and probably 8 and a half percent next year,” he said. “And we think that is a sign of the continued enthusiasm, continued optimism that business has for investing in India,” he added. Referring to the 82 billion dollar foreign investment in India last year mentioned by the Consul General, Nugent said India was one of the few countries in the world with positive investments. Nugent also said the round table gave a lot of information about GIFT City.

Nugent introduced ISPF, as a company based in the United States with headquarters in Washington, D.C. and offices in four other cities in United States including the one in New York, and overseas offices in Delhi and Mumbai. “We are a strong partner with all of this, with the Government of India, with the Consulate, with the Embassy in Washington DC and with all of you as you look forward to investing in GIFT City,” he said.

Answering a participant’s concern about making use of the local human capital, Shah said the delegation had met many people at both the events they had attended and found that a large percentage of the people it met were from Gujarat. “The talent was always there in Gujarat. But, the opportunities earlier were more into trading and business,” he said. He then gave an example of large Institutions from Bangalore who he said source their talent from Baroda M.S. University, with such talent from Gujarat working all over India.

“Recently the Bank of America opened new operations in Gandhinagar and 80% of the talent is from Gujarat, and only 20% came from other cities,” Shah said. He said for GIFT City, the talent source will be Gujarat itself, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh. “Finding local talent has not been very challenging as of date,” he said. “But as we move forward, there would be much more requirement for sources coming in. Fortunately Gujarat has created the knowledge corridor. We are guided by Indian Institute of Technology  (IIT), Gandhinagar. We have other universities, we have Indian Institute of Management (IIM). There is a lot of talent,” Shah said.

Adding to Shah’s comments, J.P. Gupta, Secretary, Finance, Government of Gujarat said, “It has been said that in the IT industry Gujarat has not been on the Forefront. Yes, IT in India was in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Noida earlier,” he said. “The typical Gujarati spirit was that of doing business, not so much in the service industry. In the initial stages there was a dearth of finding such people,” Gupta said.

Giving an example in support of his answer, he said, “When DCS opened its venture right in Gandhinagar, there were more than 6,000 people working there. In Gandhinagar there are more than 20,000 people who are working in the technology Centers”. He also gave example of the Chartered Accountant and Company Secretaries. “Out of 10 people, 4 people (in that sector) are from Gujarat,” Gupta said. “(The) Financial Sector as well as Legal Sector, the biggest emerging sectors where Gujarat is at the forefront, providing skilled manpower,” he further said.

“Manpower availability, particularly at the highest skill level, will no more be an issue,” Gupta said. To industries which feel that GIFT City is still lacking in these particular areas, he said they were constantly working at those levels.  “If such manpower needs to be trained, we have created universities. If you were to walk through GIFT City, you have to pass through the Knowledge Corridor where 5 universities have been created in the last 10 years,” he said, and added, “We understand manpower is at the critical center of any financial management, and we are at it,”.

Participant Vaibhav Parikh of Nishith Dental Association told ITV Gold that he found the session very interesting. “We have been working with GIFT City & GIFT City regulators for some time now. It’s always good to know new development from them of what has recently happened,” he said. “Learning about them coming with the structure where India will have their own spec in GIFT City, which is very interesting,” Parikh said.

Sundeep Sikka, CEO, Nippon India Mutual Fund, also a participant at the round table, said that there were people from Banking, Broking, and various other sectors. “The best thing that came out today was that India as an investment opportunity continues to be exciting,” he said. Mentioning that the access into India will be going through the GIFT City,” he said, “It was  heartening to see the kind of questions that came”. “It is clear that India is moving towards a $5 trillion economy and it is only a matter of time. The kind of response we have seen in New York is very encouraging,” Sikka said.

 Kapil Rathi, Founder and CEO of Cross Tower,  was also one of the participants at the event. He said that Cross Tower, was a digital asset exchange with a capital market focus. “We are joining the GIFT City delegation learning about different type of programs that GIFT City has been rolling out for organizations like them.

“I’m really intrigued by some of the regulatory development that GIFT City is bringing. Especially very excited that there is a single regulator in the block chain and digital assets space,” he said. Explaining that while there is a lot of regulatory uncertainty, it is important to have a regulator. “(Such a regulator) can provide some clarity in addition to some of the infrastructure to build a digital asset platform,” Rathi said. “ We are a block chain company and we are looking to expand aggressively in India. We are currently based out of Gurgaon. This particular presentation has helped us learn a lot of GIFT City Program and it is something that we are actively considering to work with the government officials and regulators,” he said.

Participant Kristin Bogianno, Co-Founder and President of Cross Tower, said that she found the presentation very informative, giving an overview of the efforts of GIFT City to attract foreign investors. “It is really putting it in an incredible framework that goes across many different industries, Asset Management, and Capital Markets. It was really well done today,” she said.

According to their official website, http://www.giftgujarat.in/, GIFT City is an integrated development on 886 acres of land, including office spaces, residential apartments, schools, hospital, hotels, clubs, retail shopping outlets and other recreational facilities, making it a complete independent community. Located on the banks of Sabarmati River, the city connects the cities of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar.

(Based on ITV Gold video footage)

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