“A new diamond has been added to the magnificence of Surat city” said Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 17, 2023 as he inaugurated the brilliantly designed Diamond Bourse in Surat, adding to the charm of the city and the pride of Indian citizens. The Prime Minister lauded the Surat Diamond Bourse, attributing its success to the inclusive leadership of Shri Vallabhbhai Lakhani and Shri Laljibhai Patel. He commended the entire team and envisioned the Bourse as a significant representation of India’s prowess in global diamond trading. Emphasizing its importance, the he highlighted the Bourse’s role in showcasing India’s innovative design, materials, and concepts, hailing it as a testament to New India’s capabilities and resolve.
Spanning a massive 6.7 million square feet, the Surat Diamond Bourse stands as the world’s largest office complex, surpassing even the Pentagon. Constructed at a cost of Rs 3,000 crores and designed by Manit Rastogi of Morphogenesis after winning an international design competition, this architectural marvel comprises nine interconnected buildings. Linked by a 24-feet-wide central corridor, each building stands at 15 stories tall, alongside a ground floor. The hub accommodates 4,500 diamond trading offices sprawled across 35.54 acres, providing space for 67,000 professionals, including cutters, polishers, and traders. Moreover, the Bourse offers offices ranging from 300 to 75,000 square feet and boasts a vast 2 million square feet of parking space in its basement. To ensure a secure environment, the facility is equipped with stringent security measures, including highly secured entry and exit checkpoints, CCTV surveillance, control rooms, public announcement systems, and under car scanners at entry gates. It creates a safe environment for the Indian businessman and puts us in the forefront of infrastructure in this industry.
During his visit, the Prime Minister marvelled at the architectural features, particularly highlighting the Green Building as a potential global benchmark for environmental enthusiasts. He commended the overall design, suggesting its potential as an educational resource for aspiring architects and engineers. Additionally, he praised the Panchtatva Garden, acknowledging its potential as a model for landscaping education.
The word “Panchtatva” holds utmost importance. Every office within the Surat Diamond Bourse enjoys a view overlooking the expansive landscape courts, meticulously crafted around the fundamental principle of “Panchtatva,” representing the five elements: air, water, fire, earth, and sky. Each element is thoughtfully incorporated, offering occupants and visitors an immersive experience. Air is reflected in the circulation and flow of the space, while water is manifested through soothing water features or reflective surfaces. Fire elements are subtly represented through warm and vibrant hues or carefully placed lighting, while earth elements could include natural textures and materials. The sky, symbolising vastness and openness, is expressed through open-air spaces or expansive views. The thoughtful integration of these elemental concepts within the landscape courts adds depth and meaning to the architectural grandeur of the Surat Diamond Bourse.
In addition to the Bourse, the Prime Minister mentioned the inauguration of a new terminal at Surat Airport, elevating its status to an international airport. He announced new flight connections, highlighting the city’s growing global connectivity. The Prime Minister expressed confidence in Surat’s progress, noting its rise among the world’s top 10 growing cities. Economically, Surat has emerged as a powerhouse, particularly in the fields of trade and commerce. The city’s strategic location, well-developed transportation networks, and business-friendly policies have attracted investments, fostering a thriving business ecosystem. Surat has become a hub for industries such as textiles, diamonds, and petrochemicals, playing a pivotal role in the country’s economic growth. Surat’s social fabric has also seen positive transformations. The city’s commitment to education, healthcare, and social welfare has contributed to an inclusive and progressive society. Educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and cultural amenities have flourished, nurturing a well-rounded community. The PM praised Surat for its remarkable street food, cleanliness, and advancements in skill development. Highlighting the city’s transformation from the Sun City to the Diamond City, Silk City, and Bridge City, he attributed this evolution to the relentless dedication of its people. Surat, he noted, has become the aspiration of countless young individuals. Acknowledging Surat’s strides in the IT sector, the Prime Minister termed the city’s acquisition of the magnificent Diamond Bourse as a historic achievement for a modern city like Surat.
The Prime Minister assured that the people of Surat have long been aware of his commitment. He cited the Surat Diamond Bourse as a testament to this promise, reflecting on past interactions during the 2014 World Diamond Conference where initiatives for the diamond industry were initiated, culminating in the establishment of the grand Surat Diamond Bourse. Regarding Surat’s capabilities, the Prime Minister highlighted India’s economic ascent from 10th to 5th place globally. He pledged, in his usual aspirational and playful manner, that India, under his leadership in the “third innings”, would endeavour to rank among the top three economies in the world. Sharing the government’s ambitious roadmap for the next 25 years, he outlined goals to achieve a $5 trillion and subsequently a $10 trillion economy.
The Prime Minister emphasised India’s diamond industry as pivotal for boosting exports and urged Surat’s leaders to enhance its contribution. While India leads in jewellery, cut diamonds, and lab-grown diamonds, its overall share in global gems and jewellery exports remains at 3.5 percent. PM Modi believes Surat’s initiatives could potentially double this share. He reiterated government backing and proposed strategies: focusing on export promotion, supporting patented designs, diversifying products, fostering tech collaborations, and promoting eco-friendly lab-grown diamonds. Plans for budgetary provisions for green diamonds were also mentioned.
The Prime Minister conveyed optimism about the industry’s prospects, highlighting India’s favourable global image and the burgeoning recognition of the ‘Make in India’ initiative. He anticipated substantial advantages for the diamond sector stemming from this optimistic global perception. In particular, he envisaged increased investor confidence, enhanced market access, and a boost in international collaborations for the diamond industry, fuelled by the positive perception of India’s manufacturing capabilities. This optimistic outlook is expected to attract greater attention and trust from global stakeholders, paving the way for expanded opportunities, technology transfers, and heightened competitiveness within the diamond trade.
PM Narendra Modi said, “If Surat moves forward, Gujarat will move forward. If Gujarat moves forward then the country will move forward.” Surat’s remarkable trajectory to becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing cities is a testament to its adaptability, economic vibrancy, and forward-thinking leadership. The fusion of tradition and innovation, embodied in the Surat Diamond Bourse and the “Panchtatva” principles, showcases the city’s commitment to sustainable and holistic development. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recognition and aspirations for Surat underscore its pivotal role in India’s global economic ambitions. As Surat continues to evolve, it stands not just as a regional success story but as a beacon of progress, contributing to the larger narrative of India’s rise on the international stage.
Ananya Agarwal is a Research Intern with Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation. Views expressed are her own.