Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Surat on Sunday that India will be among the top three economies in the world in his third term.
He inaugurated the sprawling Surat Diamond Bourse, which he said was the “symbol of strength and determination of new India”.
Addressing a gathering on the occasion, Modi said the Surat diamond industry is giving jobs to eight lakh people, and another 1.5 lakh jobs will be added due to the new bourse, the world’s largest and most modern centre for the international diamond and jewellery business.
The Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB) building, the world’s largest office complex, with over 67 lakh square feet of floor area, is located at Khajod village near Surat city.
“One more diamond is added to Surat’s grandeur. The diamond is not small, but the world’s best. Even the biggest buildings in the world pale before the glint of this diamond. Whenever one talks about this diamond bourse in the world, Surat and India will be mentioned,” the Prime Minister said.
The Surat Diamond Bourse shows the capability of Indian design, designers, material and concept. “This building is the symbol of new strength and determination of new India,” he said.
“You all know that India has risen to become the fifth-biggest economic power in the world from 10th in the last 10 years. Now, Modi has given his guarantee that in his third innings, India will be among the world’s top three economies,” he said.
“The government has also set targets for the next 25 years. We are working on the target of becoming a $5-10 trillion economy as well as taking exports to a record high,” he said.
Asserting that Surat and its diamond industry have increased manifold, he said the city should set a target to increase its contribution to the country’s exports, which is both a “challenge and an opportunity for the diamonds and gems and jewellery sector”.
India leads in the export of diamonds, including silver cut and laboratory-grown diamonds, but the country’s contribution in world exports of gems and jewellery is just 3.5 per cent, he said.
“If Surat decides, then very soon we can figure in double digits in gems and jewellery exports. And I give a guarantee that the government stands with you in all your efforts,” he said.
The Centre has already selected the sector as a focus area for export promotion and is taking efforts to encourage patented design, diversification of export products, search for better technology in collaboration with other countries and encouraging lab-grown and green diamonds.
The world is inclined towards India and the country’s reputation is high and being talked about all over today, he said.
“Made in India has become a strong brand. Your business and jewellery sector will get the benefit of this. So I urge you to take a pledge and fulfil it,” he added.
Surat’s modern infrastructure is being enhanced to increase the capacity of businesses by way of an international airport, metro rail service, the Hazira Port, LNG terminal and multi cargo port, among others, the Prime Minister said.
Surat is part of the bullet train network and work is progressing on the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, which will also strengthen the area’s connectivity with northern and eastern India, he said.
The Delhi-Mumbai Expressway will provide new opportunities for Surat’s businesses, he said, adding that “it is in a way the only city with such modern connectivity”. City businesses should take advantage of all these aspects, he added.
The PM said “Modi’s guarantee” is being talked about a lot these days and more due to the recent assembly polls.
“But the people of Surat have known about Modi’s guarantees for a long time. The hard-working people of Surat have seen Modi’s guarantees turn into reality. And this Surat Diamond Bourse is an example of it,” he said.
The SDB will be a global centre for trading of both rough and polished diamonds as well as jewellery, as per an official statement.
It will comprise a state-of-the-art ‘Customs Clearance House’ for import and export, a jewellery mall for retail jewellery business and facility of international banking and safe vaults, it said.
The SDB is part of the Diamond Research and Mercantile (DREAM) City. With 67 lakh square feet of floor space, the SDB is now the world’s largest office building, having nearly 4,500 diamond trading offices, a release said.
The mega structure, built on a plot of 35.54 acres inside the DREAM City, has nine towers of 15 floors, with office spaces ranging from 300 to 1 lakh square feet.
Prime Minister Modi said the new terminal building of Surat airport was inaugurated on Sunday and Surat airport has also got the status of international airport, fulfilling a demand of several years of the people of the city.
With Surat airport, Gujarat now has three international airports, Modi said, adding that apart from the diamond trade, this will benefit the textile, tourism, education and several other sectors.
Modi said he has been closely associated with Surat city, which has taught him a lot, including how one can face the biggest challenges with collective effort.
He said Surat has seen several ups and downs in the past, including plague and flood.
“Suratis faced all the challenges together. I have seen those periods closely when Surat’s spirit was challenged and negativity of different kinds was spread. But I was confident that Surat will not only emerge from the crisis, but will also make a place for itself in the world with new strength,” he said.
Today, Surat is among the top 10 fastest growing cities in the world, he said.
The people of Surat have turned it into a diamond city with all their might, and it has become a bridge city.
“For lakhs of young people, Surat today is a dream city. The city is also growing in information technology, and getting a huge building in the form of a diamond bourse is a historic event,” Modi said.