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The BBC's Sanjeev Srivastava in Jaipur
"A celebration of one of India's most colourful and culturally rich states"
 real 56k

Monday, 25 September, 2000, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Festive celebrations in Rajasthan
Jaipur market
Jaipur: Focus for Rajasthan's jubilee celebrations
By Sanjeev Srivastava in Jaipur

Some 600 prominent Rajasthanis from all over the world gathered this weekend in Jaipur to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the state.

They also discussed the future development of Rajasthan which, though culturally rich, is one of India's poorest states.


What is the difference between India and Pakistan? We are one people, one nation

Pakistani folk singer Reshma

One of Rajasthan's main exports has been people

Communities such as the Marwaris have made a remarkable contribution to commerce and industry in India.

The Pakistani folk singer, Reshma, was one of the star attractions of the festivities in Jaipur.

Born in the town of Bikaner, near the India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan, her family crossed over at the time of partition.

The tension between the neighbours ensured she could never visit the place of her birth.

Reshma is happy she could make it this time following an invitation from the Rajasthan government.


"What is the difference between India and Pakistan? We're one people, one nation. There is no difference between the artists, nor the common man," she said.

"I feel that these people are my brothers and sisters. There is no difference between Pakistan and here. One people, one nation, we have come here with much love and respect," she added.

The other Pakistani artist who made it to his native state was Mehdi Hasan, the singer many critics credit with the most melodious voice in the sub-continent.

Home-coming

For many others, settled abroad for several decades, the visit was also a sentimental one.

One of the richest Indians in the world, UK-based businessman Laxmi Niwas Mittal, last came to his home state 45 years ago.

He was pleased to be back.

"I'm very excited that I am back here.... It's a great opportunity to meet and create a new bond with Rajasthanis all over the world.

"If we can do something for this state, I think it will be a great achievement for this conclave."

The Amber Fort, Jaipur
Old forts, but there's more to Rajasthan
Mr Mittal was not the only top industrialist to have responded to the Rajasthan Government's invitation.

The guest-list read like the Who's Who of the Indian corporate world, not surprising since the Marwari community has long dominated commercial activity in the country.

But with most Marwaris settling outside the state, their business skills have not really helped Rajasthan out of its poverty.

Seeking investment

The convenor of the Rajasthan golden jubilee celebrations committee, Nawal Kishore Sharma, says some benefits will definitely result from such conferences.

Laser shows were organised to impress visiting potential investors that Rajasthan is not just a state of old forts, but ready to service their requirements in areas of hi-tech as well.

But not many investors are willing to bite the bullet in a hurry.

Rahul Bajaj is one of India's best-known industrialists. His family comes from Rajasthan.

Rajasthani women
'Basic economics - you work we compete'

However, Mr Bajaj does business in the western state of Maharashtra.

"We have to see in which industries Rajasthan has a comparative advantage. It's pure basic simple economics. You work and we compete.

"Today every state in India is competing for investment. In such a situation, I don't believe states should compete on the basis of fiscal incentives. That doesn't get anywhere. You must provide the right environment."

According to analysts the message is clear. As a social event, the conference was a huge success.

But if the authorities wish to translate this goodwill into hard-nosed investments for Rajasthan, they will have to compete with other Indian states in providing infrastructure facilities and other business incentives.

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See also:

22 Nov 99 | South Asia
In Pictures: Camel trade in the desert
21 Jul 00 | South Asia
'Tourist police' for Rajasthan
16 May 00 | South Asia
Rehabilitation in Rajasthan
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