R. N. Bhaskar has written a three-part article in DNA about the decline of Maharashtra. This particularly caught my eye because I just noticed that in the CMIE Capex data, Maharashtra is at rank 10 amongst the 20 large states when ranked by the value of projects `under implementation' expressed on a per capita basis. I was very surprised when Maharashtra came out at the median and not around the top. The top five are Haryana, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Uttarakhand.
I have long noticed the theme of `finance follows trade'. Where international trade blossoms, there is a natural consumption of international financial services. Bhaskar rightly points out the edge that has developed with Gujarat in ports. He writes about the remarkable Mundra port. I have long been struck by the fact that Gujarat has roughly half of India's ports. Putting together the picture on roads, ports, and the possible freight corridor, this could give Gujarat a very good position on international trade.
So could Gujarat make a play for doing international financial services? The MIFC report is not deeply bound to Bombay: it focuses on getting the framework of financial and monetary policy in order, so that India can produce IFS. While Bombay has a natural edge, it doesn't have to be the case that an IFC takes root in Bombay. After all, only a few hundred years ago, Surat was a big commercial centre and Bombay was a barren island. :-) Bhaskar talks about the work that is going on at the outskirts of Ahmedabad to will a finance cluster named `GIFT' into existence. GIFT has a new website. Update: Some people in government seem to think similarly about the lack of binding to `M' in the MIFC report.