Even as some of the world’s most influential leaders spoke at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit here, it was Bhutan’s Prime Minister who stole the limelight and the maximum applause from the audience.
Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, won both cheers and clapping from the crowd at the Mahatma Mandir hall with his witty remarks: Calling Bhutan one of the world’s smallest countries, sandwiched between two of the world’s biggest powers India and China.
Directly after the function, he was mobbed by many, even as one businessman was heard saying in jest, “This has become a Vibrant Bhutan function.”
Mr. Tobgay said referring top Indian industrialists RIL chief Mukesh Ambani, power baron Gautam Adani and Adi Godrej “Forget competing with other countries, I know that the GDP of my country is less than the personal wealth of many of you in the room”
At $1.88 billion, Bhutan’s GDP is just a fraction of their assets, with Mr. Ambani’s personal wealth estimated at $22 billion, Mr. Adani’s at $7.1 billion, and Mr. Godrej’s at $3.8 billion.
Mr. Tobgay said he valued Bhutan’s “gross national happiness” far higher than its GDP, and invited the gathering to invest there.
Mr. Tobgay said: Bhutan is open for business,but only for clean, green and sustainable businesses, like hydropower, organic agriculture, etc.
He said the country’s forests covered 72 per cent of the area, it was dependent on hydropower, which accounted for 40 per cent of Bhutan’s earnings and the government’s ‘carbon-neutral’ policies ensured a “pollution-free” atmosphere for investors.
Mr. Tobgay said: "We also have open access to free markets,” indicating India, which drew a laugh from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr. Tobgay explained that he had planned to visit the Buddhist sites in Varanasi and Bodhgaya in January, but when PM Modi invited him to the Vibrant Gujarat Summit he decided to “take an economic pilgrimage ahead of his spiritual pilgrimage” and visit Gujarat first