India’s Free-Market Oasis Aims to Undertake Global Financial Hubs

India’s Free-Market Oasis Aims to Undertake Global Financial Hubs

India’s free-market oasis, Gujarat International Finance ­Tec-­City or GIFT City in Gujarat is ready to face global financial hubs such as Singapore and Dubai.

The financial hub occupies 886 acres between Gujarat’s capital, Gandhinagar, and its biggest city Ahmedabad. It has the presence of companies such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and HSBC Holdings Plc with a combined employee base of 20,000. Being located in the city brings the companies exemption from many rules and taxes that hinder business and trading in the rest of the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi began planning the hub in 2008, when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. His ascension to the top post in 2014 allowed him to give the project more policy help and a higher profile.

GIFT City is an experiment in free markets. The goal is to create a welcoming place where India-centric trading that’s moved to Dubai, Mauritius or Singapore can return to the country. Here, companies can escape India’s rules and bureaucracy, as this is an attempt to lure billions of dollars back to onshore markets.

The free-market hub is the first in India to offer district cooling, an energy-efficient air conditioning system, and central waste, water and electricity management. Its other attractions include beautiful streets and boulevards and pristine sports centres, and recent additions such as a school and a hospital. Employees working in the hub have electric buses to take them home, while nearby cities have amenities such as cinemas and fast-food restaurants.