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India's coastal state of Goa gearing up for BRICS summit

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-10-14 20:55

GOA, India - On the western coast of India off the Arabian Sea, Goa, the smallest Indian state by area, is in a jubilant mood to receive leaders from some of the world's biggest emerging countries.

Heads of state and government of five BRICS nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- are scheduled to spend the weekend here for their eighth annual gathering, after India assumed chair of the bloc early this year. The state will also host leaders of neighboring Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand for a BRICS-BIMSTEC outreach summit.

During the upcoming BRICS Summit, themed Building Responsive, Inclusive & Collective Solutions, leaders are expected to exchange in-depth views on BRICS cooperation and other global and regional issues.

The summit, which kicks off on Saturday, is the first meeting for leaders of BRICS countries after the BRICS Leaders' Informal Meeting held on the sidelines of G20 Summit in September in China's eastern city of Hangzhou, when Chinese President Xi Jinping said that BRICS members should enhance coordination to make emerging-market economies and developing countries play a bigger role in international affairs.

China is a staunch supporter and active participant of BRICS cooperation, said China's Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong during a media briefing earlier this week, adding that China believes that the Goa summit will be a complete success.

Such expectations also run high in Goa, as government officials, business leaders and the local community all gear up to play host to the high-profile event.

Chief minister of the state Laxmikant Parsekar told local media on Thursday that Goa would meet the challenge of hosting the summit with success.

"Despite heavy rain during the days preceding the summit, we were able to complete all the works in time," a visibly pleased Parsekar said after a reconnaissance mission two days ahead of the summit, according to local newspaper the Times of India.

A makeover has taken place in the state. The route connecting delegate-housing hotels and the airport has been spruced up, and colorful flowers and plants newly-planted along the roads.

The airport, streets and other public places are adorning the colors and hues of the five BRICS nations, while billboards and posters with the smiling faces of BRICS leaders and welcome signs in five languages are plastered across the state.

"A lot of OFC (optical fiber cable) cables are being laid. Mobile (phone network) connectivity is being improved... Illumination is being improved... A lot of such activities are happening," administration chief of South Goa district, Swapnil M Naik, told Xinhua in an earlier interview.

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up. A heavy police presence can be seen in areas around the venue for the summit. Multi-tiered security has been planned for the meeting venue in South Goa, and mock drills have been conducted, according to local media reports.

The Goan chief minister also said the BRICS summit would prove to be a good opportunity for the state to project itself. "Goa will go across the world," he said.

Asked what benefits Goa would accrue from the summit, Parsekar said he was looking at the benefits from the "investment point of view." He hoped that investments would flow into the state in sectors like IT, electronics and pharmaceuticals, thereby projecting Goa as an investment destination.

Damodar Kochkar, president of Verna Industrial Estate, the biggest industrial zone in Goa, is also hoping that Goa will catch the eye of foreign investors.

Many industries from BRICS nations will come, he said hopefully.

Meanwhile, local residents are seeing the summit as a chance to promote local tourism. With its serene beaches along a coastline stretching up to 125 km and laid-back pace of life, Goa is already quite a recipe for tourists home and abroad, but locals are looking to the summit for a further boost.

Proudly introducing Goa's tourist attractions, a local rental car driver who identified himself as Florian said he expected the media coverage of the summit to bring in more tourists, including those from China.

"When there are more tourists coming, there will be more business for me," he said with a grin.

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