Delving into India’s Premier Smart City Project: GIFT CITY


Delving into India’s Premier Smart City Project: GIFT CITY


Have you ever heard the term “GIFT City“?

“GIFT CITY” (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City) is India’s inaugural smart city project, jointly proposed in 2007 by the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi , and the government, with development commencing in 2012.

By 2020, the project had garnered global recognition, securing the 10th position in the Global Financial Centers Index within the financial sector.

In reality, GIFT CITY has become the headquarters for global IT corporations such as Google and IBM , in addition to 23 multinational banks including HSBC , JPMorgan Chase & Co. , and Barclays. Furthermore, major Japanese financial institutions like MUFG, SMBC Group, and Mizuho have announced their entry, thereby enhancing its presence in the international business arena.

Despite the growing attention towards GIFT CITY, from outside of India, it remains shrouded in some opacity. To gain deeper insights into its current state, we have conducted an interview with Mr. Bhaskar, the Deputy General Manager of GIFT CITY’s Marketing Department.

Mr. Bhaskar (left)

Overview & Vision

The conception of GIFT CITY began in 2007, spearheaded by the then Chief Minister, Narendra Modi (now the Prime Minister). The plan dedicates 260 acres (approximately 1 million square meters) out of 900 acres (approximately 3.64 million square meters) for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for financial offshore transactions, aiming to attract financial and IT companies and transform it into an international financial hub akin to London, New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Mr. Bhaskar states, “The grandest vision that GIFT CITY harbors is the establishment of an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in India.” “This is aimed at reclaiming the business that had previously flowed to foreign markets. This project is not confined to Gujarat but is a national project that continues from Modi’s tenure as Chief Minister.”

Incentive Schemes (IFSC)

As India’s first IFSC, the SEZ of GIFT CITY enables resident companies to function in accordance with international regulations and compete globally. This unique characteristic positions GIFT CITY as a hub for cross-border financial services, offering opportunities in foreign exchange, securities, and commodities trading. Specifically, it facilitates foreign capital fundraising and asset management, with the India INX, established in January 2017, allowing for 22-hour trading of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and commodities daily.

Mr. Bhaskar further emphasizes, “Compared to other international financial centers, GIFT CITY offers an overwhelmingly competitive environment in terms of operational cost reduction and tax incentives.”

Echoing Mr. Bhaskar’s statements, the Indian government has also been rolling out various promotional measures annually for the IFSC, highlighting the heightened expectations for GIFT CITY, the sole smart city project within the country.

For instance, the 2021 national budget includes proposals for special tax incentives for entities based in the IFSC and favorable measures for aircraft leasing businesses, aiming to stimulate activities like ship leasing, lending, offshore fund management, and offshore banking within the GIFT IFSC.

Moreover, the 2022 budget proposal introduces several tax exemption measures, including:

1.Tax-free treatment for non-residents on gains from offshore derivative instruments or over-the-counter derivatives traded through Offshore Banking Units (OBUs) in the IFSC.

2.Tax exemptions under certain conditions for income from royalties and interest earned by non-residents leasing ships to units in the IFSC.

3.Tax-free treatment for income generated abroad by portfolio management services operated by specified managers in OBU accounts.

4.Tax exemptions for Category I and II Alternative Investment Funds in the IFSC issuing shares above fair market value in venture capital undertakings.

Incentive Schemes (IT/ITeS)

Beyond the IFSC, GIFT CITY also aims to be a leading IT city, particularly aspiring to become the premier fintech hub globally.

On February 8, 2022, the Gujarat government announced the “IT/ITeS Policy (2022-27),” aiming to position Gujarat among the top 5 Indian states in the IT/ITeS industry by March 31, 2027, by enhancing world-class IT infrastructure, data centers, and innovation centers for advanced technologies. This declaration aims to establish Gujarat as a leading state in India for this sector. Moreover, the policy aims to increase the state’s IT/ITeS export value from INR 30 billion (approximately 45 billion JPY) in 2018 to INR 250 billion and create 100,000 new IT-related jobs within the state.

This policy outlines attractive propositions for domestic and international leading IT companies, including the development of cutting-edge IT infrastructure, investment in IT talent development, and an expanded incentive scheme including grants.

Infrastructure Development

GIFT City provides a plug-and-play infrastructure for businesses seeking unparalleled accelerated growth. Mr. Bhaskar remarks, “GIFT CITY is designed to encapsulate every element requisite for a cutting-edge smart city.” Utilizing advanced technology, it provides “high-speed, low-latency networks,” “stable supplies of electricity and gas,” and “sustainability-conscious district cooling systems,” among others.

Mr. Bhaskar particularly highlights the focus on sustainability, noting, “The operation of all buildings within GIFT CITY through a centralized cooling system, coupled with the introduction of an automated waste collection system, has successfully minimized environmental impacts while reducing building operational costs by 30%. This achievement is noteworthy compared to other smart city projects.”

Furthermore, GIFT City is implemented on the walk-to-work concept, providing social facilities such as schools, clubs, parks etc., enhancing the quality of life for its residents. The uninterrupted infrastructure and 24/7 top-of-the-line security surveillance measures make GIFT CITY safe and secure for the families staying. This vision will unfold through numerous infrastructure projects slated for the future. “From 2012 to 2020, 15 commercial towers have become operational, with an additional 30 new projects planned. This will result in the completion of 5,000 residential units over the next three and a half years, accelerating the development of GIFT CITY,” Mr. Bhaskar explains.

Additionally, the metro development projects linking Ahmedabad, the state’s largest city, and Gandhinagar, where GIFT CITY is located, which were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are scheduled to be operational by 2024.

Message from Mr. Bhaskar

In conclusion, Mr. Bhaskar conveys,”GIFT CITY is a project that is creating history. We invite you to come and experience this growth. We look forward to everyone understanding this new ecosystem at India’s gateway and growing together with us,” sending a message to investors and businesses worldwide.


A mere 15-minute Uber ride from Ahmedabad transports you to GIFT CITY, where the well-developed roads and buildings make one wonder, “Is this truly India?” Yet, it also subtly reminds one of its very beginning stage, aspiring to mirror the stature of established IFSCs like Singapore and London.

As highlighted in this article, GIFT CITY is striving to become a global forefront in IFSC and fintech innovation, already hosting a constellation of global IT and financial titans. However, it has a lot of challenges, notably regulatory and operational hurdles unique to India. Despite these, the international community’s interest in this monumental smart city project within India’s burgeoning landscape remains steadfast and ever-brightening.

For those intrigued by the narrative of GIFT CITY and India’s expanding business and investment horizons, delving deeper into this dynamic ecosystem might just unveil untapped opportunities awaiting your discovery.

Should this article spark an interest in GIFT CITY, we warmly invite your comments and messages, opening a dialogue to explore this architectural and economic marvel further.

Also, you can check GIFT CITY ‘s latest news here ->

Special Thanks, Bhaskar Sagar , Nisarg Acharya ,Bhoomika Vyas

【About ICMG Group

ICMG Group has been leading co-creative innovation not only in Japan but also in Southeast Asia and US together with various stakeholders such as leading Japanese big corporations, startups, and government agencies. ICMG Group has also carried out renewable energy investment projects in Southeast Asia with Tokyo Electric Power Company and Chubu Electric Power Co, formed a strategic partnership in Singapore with UNDP to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and launched the sustainable city initiative project in Japan with Aichi Prefectural Government. ICMG Co-Creation Fund aims to create a sustainable society by providing growth capital and strong partner network of leading Japanese corporations to startups that solve social issues.



【About ICMG Co-Creation Fund

ICMG Co-Creation Fund was launched in May 2021 and is being managed by ICMG Partners as the General Partner. The Limited Partners are Japan Airport Terminal, which operates Haneda Airport Terminal Building and its group company Haneda Future Research Institute(LP investment from Japan Airport Terminal), and Kiraboshi Bank, which aims to become “a comprehensive service provider with strong financial capabilities”. The fund aims to build an ecosystem that leads a sustainable future by encouraging co-creation between startups that solve social issues beyond industries and Japanese large companies. In addition to providing startups with speedy growth capital, we also aim to provide growth support by offering collaboration opportunities with ICMG Group’s network of Japanese large companies.


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Gen Funahashi

舩橋 元

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