Groovy days

It's official then — we have a groovy CM. Not only did a vastly sleeker CM Devendra Fadnavis sprint up the stage to deliver his speech at the Make In India inaugural event at the NSCI on Saturday, but he sounded positively zippy when he used phrases like 'hassle free', and spoke about Maharashtra as a 'happening state'.

If this departure from the tired, old government spectacles of the past, was not enough to demonstrate how things had changed so dramatically, there was Amitabh Kant's mind blowing light and sound extravaganza, that broke every stereotype (Kathakali dancers with roller skaters).

Stefan Lofven. Pic/AFP, Devendra Fadnavis, Juha Sipila. Pic/AFP
Stefan Lofven. Pic/AFP, Devendra Fadnavis, Juha Sipila. Pic/AFP

Against the backdrop of 3D-like gigantic screens, wailing electric guitars and MII's iconic roaring lion, the Prime Ministers of Finland and Sweden, Juha Sipila and Stefan Lofven, international and national corporate tigers including Safra Catz, the global co-CEO of Oracle, pledged their support to India's ascension.

But for all the dazzling arrangements – one tiny human error did not pass unnoticed. At the start of his exuberant speech on India's chances at pole position, PM Lofven inadvertently held up a mirror to it's great rivalry with China.

"The world's eyes are on China," he said before realising his mistake and immediately correcting it to "were on China but now on India." But the error hung in the air, until, with perhaps a demonstration of its newfound confidence the audience laughed good-naturedly and applauded him just the same.

D for development and dhokla
The other thing that's official is for world statesmen to talk business. We recall being in the audience a few years ago, when Bill Gates had taken to the stage to address India's corporate aristocracy at the Trident hotel.

Narendra Modi. Pic/PTI, Ratan Tata, Kumar Mangalam Birla
Narendra Modi. Pic/PTI, Ratan Tata, Kumar Mangalam Birla

Expecting the world's richest man and leading philanthropist to lecture them on subjects like world peace and politics, the crowd hadn't known how to react, when Gates pulled out his company's latest product, and with the earnestness of a newbie salesman in Noida began to enumerate its features.

(That it was a tablet, only goes to prove that every idea of a top bizman isn't always successful.) Be that as it may, though PM Narendra Modi did not sell a gadget, he took a leaf out of Gate's book, and certainly did sell the idea of a biz-ready India. "Come, make India your workplace. This is the best time ever to be in India, and it's even better to Make in India," he said.

But it was when he leaned forward in an avuncular manner, talking directly to the front of the hall where the likes of Ratan Tata and Kumar Mangalam Birla sat, that Modi showed just how much things have changed from the days of socialistic jargon.

"To captains of industries, I want to say, "Don't wait, don't relax. Seize the opportunity and invest,"" he said in the manner of a friendly stock broker advising on a blue chip scrip.

So evident was this Gujarati business ethos, that when at the end of his speech the PM said that to the three D's fuelling India's growth (democracy, demography and demand), he was adding one more – the man behind us said "D for Dhokla?" But of course that was not it. "De-regulation," is what the PM had meant.

Tracking the Super Girl
It is every hack's aspiration to be on the inside curve of a big scoop, or be the first to break a story, and whereas others might have to their credit the discovery of new stars or the fall of governments - let it be known, that to us goes the credit of discovering 'Helmet Girl', that wondrous creature, who zips around Bandra doing every day things with a nifty contraption on her head.

Shilpa Shetty with Lisa Sadanah
Shilpa Shetty with Lisa Sadanah

And so, more in the line of Helmet Girl aka Lisa Sadanah's activities: she showed up at Arpita Khan's baby shower over the weekend (with helmet on head) and was seen chatting nonchalantly with Dabboo Ratnani, Sohail Khan and the very glam Shilpa Shetty amongst others. And for those curious about this post modern super girl's special powers, well "It's to make people smile."

Reception for a prince
As predicted, the reception for the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, held on Friday night at the Taj, saw an impressive turnout.

The prince with Riteish DeshmukhThe prince with Riteish Deshmukh

World leaders like the premiers of Finland and Sweden, politicians like CM Devendra Fadnavis and Shaina NC, captains of industry like Cyrus Poonawalla, Rahul Bajaj and Naresh Goyal, Bollywood stars like Salman Khan and Sushmita Sen, media mavens like Shekhar Gupta and Shobhaa De, along with a delicious serving of city socialites and a large swathe of leading UAE nationals, awaited their moment with the prince.

Sushmita Sen and Salman Khan also attended the eventSushmita Sen and Salman Khan also attended the event

"It's taking a long time for people to get their turn," one of the hostesses said, adding, "The Prince is spending time with everyone he's introduced to." But instead of the usual queuing up at state banquets, the evening mercifully had a less ponderous air.

"The Prince has asked everyone to form pleasant circles and enjoy the evening until he gets to them," said the hostess. And from all appearances, that's exactly what the guests in the cool and refreshing sea breeze.

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