As India celebrated the National Start-up Day on 16th January 2022, no better reason to discuss the inspirer of many start-ups Elon Musk’s opinion about India and how leaders from various Indian states are trying to woo him in response overlooking their poor records in the past when these states had to deal with industrialists. Elon Musk was recently asked by one of his followers on Twitter as to when is his company Tesla launching its vehicle in India. In response to this, Musk has tweeted that “Still working through a lot of challenges with the government.”
Still working through a lot of challenges with the government— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 12, 2022
In July 2021, OpIndia had reported that Musk was seeking temporary relief in import tariffs. Earlier in April 2021, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had said that American electric car major Tesla has a golden opportunity to set up its manufacturing facility in India given the country’s thrust on e-vehicles. However, Indian government has been urging to manufacture cars in India and discourage imports by relatively high import duty to encourage the make-in-India initiative.
Essentially, when Musk said he has a lot of challenges to work through with the government, it was most likely related to import duty, something which only the central government can take a call on.
Soon after Musk shared this tweet, incandescent Indian leaders from various states came forward to woo him with what they probably think as an offer he cannot deny. These leaders include Navjyot Singh Sidhu (Congress) from Punjab, Mohammed Ghulam Rabbani(TMC) from West Bengal, Jayant Patil (NCP) from Maharashtra, and KTR Rao (TRS) of Telangana.
Sidhu invites Musk to Punjab
President of Punjab State Congress, cricketer turned politician Navjyot Singh Sidhu invited Elon Musk to Punjab. He tweeted that “I invite Elon Musk to Punjab. Punjab Model will create Ludhiana as a hub for the Electric Vehicles & Battery industry with time-bound single window clearance for investment that brings new technology to Punjab, create green jobs, walking path of environment preservation & sustainable development.”
I invite @elonmusk, Punjab Model will create Ludhiana as hub for Electric Vehicles & Battery industry with time bound single window clearance for investment that brings new technology to Punjab, create green jobs, walking path of environment preservation & sustainable development https://t.co/kXDMhcdVi6— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) January 16, 2022
But is Punjab indeed a safe place for industrialists? Forget Elon Musk, is it even safe for any Indian industry given that in the recent past, amidst the agitation against historic farm laws, ‘protesting farmers’ in Punjab were seen stealing generators connected to Reliance Jio telecom towers, and ‘donating’ it to a Gurudwara. The ‘protestors’ were targeting Reliance Jio towers because Congress politicians have been spreading rumors and misinformation that “Ambani and Adani are about to exploit farmers”.
The Great ‘Vasooli’ offer
Similarly, Jayant Patil, NCP leader from Maharashtra, has tweeted that “Elon Musk, Maharashtra is one of the most progressive states in India. We will provide you with all the necessary help from Maharashtra for you to get established in India. We invite you to establish your manufacturing plant in Maharashtra.” Jayant Patil is a seven-time MLA from Islampur in Maharashtra. He is one of the senior-most cabinet ministers in Uddhav Thackrey’s government in Maharashtra.
.@elonmusk, Maharashtra is one of the most progressive states in India. We will provide you all the necessary help from Maharashtra for you to get established in India. We invite you to establish your manufacturing plant in Maharashtra. https://t.co/w8sSZTpUpb— Jayant Patil- जयंत पाटील (@Jayant_R_Patil) January 16, 2022
Another NCP leader Rohit Pawar, too, invited Tesla to Maharashtra.
Since @Tesla is facing so many difficulties in establishing a manufacturing plant in other states of India. We as Maharashtra Govt. should help #Tesla bring this technology to our state. I'm sure for benefit of Maharashtra, you will look into it.@CMOMaharashtra @AUThackeray https://t.co/yP0jtwR6VB— Rohit Pawar (@RRPSpeaks) January 16, 2022
Seemingly they both seem to have forgotten that it was in the very capital of the state that the biggest industrialist of the country was unsafe. The Antilia bomb case had revealed that Mumbai Police itself was involved in planting explosives near the residence of Mukesh Ambani. After this, Sachin Vaze had revealed how the then-home minister of Maharashtra, Anil Deshmukh of the NCP was involved in the extortion racket where he deployed various police officers to complete the monthly collection targets of 100 Cr from the various bar and restaurant owners in Mumbai.
Maharashtra houses the economic capital of the country yet the biggest industry owner was under life threat from the police itself.
West Bengal, ‘No’ to Tata, ‘Yes’ to Tesla
Mohammed Ghulam Rabbani is a TMC leader from West Bengal. He is the minister in charge of the minority affairs and madrasah education ministry in the West Bengal state government. He has tweeted that “Drop here, we in West Bengal have the best infra & our leader Mamata Banerjee has got the vision. Bengal means Business …”
Mamata Banerjee’s vision is well known. It was only her who led the historic Singur protest. Tata Motors was about to set a factory in Singur to produce its iconic Tata Nano car. Owing to these protests led by Mamata Banerjee, Ratan Tata was forced to leave this option. the Tata Nano plant was moved out of Singur to Gujarat’s Sanand. Years later, however, locals who took part in the protests, expressed regret regarding the same. If at all Elon Musk comes to West Bengal he must make sure that there is no protest to his factory.
The woman who drove away Indian conglomerate out of her state is now wooing a foreigner.
The Telangana offer
KTR Rao is the working president of TRS. He is also the minister for municipal administration, urban development, industries and commerce, and information technology and communication in the state government. He has tweeted that “Hey Elon, I am the Industry & Commerce Minister of Telangana state in India Will be happy to partner Tesla in working through the challenges to set shop in India/Telangana Our state is a champion in sustainability initiatives & a top-notch business destination in India”
Hey Elon, I am the Industry & Commerce Minister of Telangana state in India— KTR (@KTRTRS) January 14, 2022
Will be happy to partner Tesla in working through the challenges to set shop in India/Telangana
Our state is a champion in sustainability initiatives & a top notch business destination in India https://t.co/hVpMZyjEIr
Telangana under TRS rule has not made any remarkable development in the industrial sector. Whatever corporates it has attracted so far is the outcome of the IT growth in Hyderabad. This too is often attributed to the earlier governments especially that of Chandrababu Naidu when he used to be the chief minister of the undivided Andhra Pradesh. A Twitter user has written in his post as a reply to the Telangana Minister’s offer that “They did not bring any major manufacturer to state since 2014. Not even one. The only place where there is development is IT, which is the legacy of previous Govts. They even ruined public transport in the state. This guy gives build-up on Twitter but nothing really happens on the ground.” Certainly not even eligible to invite Tesla.
They did not bring any major manufacturer to state since 2014. Not even one. Only place where there is development is IT, which is legacy of previous Govts.They even ruined public transport in state.— Red Viper (@imabhi2501) January 15, 2022
This guy gives build up on twitter but nothing really happens on ground.
Amusingly, the states which invited Tesla are currently run by parties which are in opposition at Centre and least likely to have any bearing on the actual issue of import duties and such which Tesla is facing while coming to India.