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Gujarat inspired the creation of Invest India. Find out how

Gujarat inspired the creation of Invest India. Find out how

When ex-World Bank and Citi executive Deepak Bagla took over as MD and CEO of Invest India in February 2015, he had to have team meetings at a coffee shop near Delhi's Bengali Market. Back then, there was no such thing as proper office.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The origins of Invest India may be traced back to the state of Gujarat. Between 2001 and 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister, the fourth largest state in terms of state GDP established an investment promotion agency (IPA) named the Industrial Extension Bureau (iNDEXTb), which monitored investment projects online.

When Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, he began the process of developing a world-class IPA.

In fact, Invest India was founded in 2009 as a 49:51 partnership between the government and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). It operated as a query-processing cell for the first seven years. There was a part-time person assigned by FICCI at that time who had to juggle a lot of other tasks. In fact, not much happened, as the role of Invest India was not well defined. "There was a small room within FICCI with not enough space to have meetings with investors," says a person in the know.

When professional CEO Bagla landed in February 2015, that was the time when state governments were also brought in as equity partners, with both the centre and states holding 49 per cent. "It’s a very strong statement about India's federalism," believes Bagla. Soon, the concept of Invest India began to take shape. The team under Bagla, which finally got a home at Vigyan Bhawan in January 2017, started creating new concept notes, brought new ways of creating research reports, showed foreigners where the opportunities are, etc.

Bagla says that the private sector character of the agency exposes you to the buy-side and sell-side. For example, from an investor's perspective, the government would not be able to immediately see the nitty-gritty of how the investor's mind is working and what the investor is looking for. "When we have an entire team here with a private sector background, they know exactly how investors are thinking," explains Bagla, who also has direct access to senior government officials.

With over 411 employees, the majority of whom are young women, Invest India addresses every minute detail of investment. For decades, India lacked an IPA. The top 20 FDI destination countries have always had a very strong IPA.

"India did not have an IPA despite the complexity of having to navigate several agencies across central and state governments to establish businesses. To change red tape into red carpet, to handhold investors to ease the investor journey, to facilitate investment and to be a one-stop shop, Invest India has done an excellent job towards the Hon’ble PM’s vision of making India the most preferred investment destination in the world," says AK Sharma, Energy Minister in Uttar Pradesh Govt. Sharma had earlier worked very closely with Modi in the chief minister’s office.

Even though Invest India has one of the smallest budgets among the top 20 IPAs in the world, the agency is doing big things. With an average age of 29, similar to India, Bagla and his enthusiastic young squad aren't grumbling.