Hyderabad: If there was an award in India for a political leader for being agile and hyper-alert to opportunities of development, investment and creation of job, one must hand it out without much doubt to Telangana state IT and industries minister K.T. Rama Rao.
With a single tweet, he threw a hustling bait at the world’s richest entrepreneur, maverick visionary of intra-planetary scale and unimpeachably the globe’s most disruptive tech entrepreneur – Elon Musk.
South Africa-born Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, and Tesla, Inc., besides the brain behind The Boring Company (hyperloop construction company), Neuralink and OpenAI, is worth around US $304 billion. He is known most famously for being auto-didactic. Like the mythological character of Mahabharata, Ekalavya, Musk picks up enormous knowledge on subjects by reading books.
Musk, who tweets from @elonmusk, has over 70.3 million followers and is known to share space-related news to fun memes and taking humorous pot-shots at Web3, cryptos, NFTs, cats, and most things under the sun, and beyond.
Surprisingly, for a man gearing intrepidly to go to Mars, he has remained skeptical about launching Tesla cars in India or entering our market. On January 12, in a reply to a tweet by Pune-based engineer Pranay Pathole @PPathole on when would Tesla enter the Indian market, Elon expressed reluctance and possible issues.
Pranay: Yo @elonmusk any further update as to when Tesla's will launch in India? They're pretty awesome and deserve to be in every corner of the world! (sic). Elon Musk replied the next day, tagging @PPathole and @Tesla – “Still working through a lot of challenges with the government” (sic).
It was enough of an opening for the eagle-eyed Rama Rao @KTRTRS to pitch his moonshot hustle. The next day, Rama Rao tweeted – “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” (sic).
As Rama Rao elaborated on Telangana’s achievements, he wrote, “Our state is a champion in sustainability initiatives & a top notch business destination in India” (sic). The tweet was retweeted 6,925 times, had over 37.1K and had over 1,220 quote tweets; with several celebrities, film stars, techies and journalists. Rama Rao then re-tweeted an older tweet of his, from over six years ago, where he first drove a Tesla and congratulated Musk for his innovation.
Politically, this moonshot hustle puts Rama Rao on par with two great past efforts – the then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu pitching Hyderabad to Bill Gates to consider it for setting up of a development centre outside the USA and the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi inviting Ratan Tata to set up a Tata Motors establishment to manufacture the Nano, once the project ran into trouble in West Bengal.
The Rama Rao-Musk pitch puts the TRS leader in a rare triad along with Naidu and Modi; the two of them having achieved enormous political success – with Naidu becoming the Chief Minister thrice and Modi, besides becoming Gujarat Chief Minister thrice rising to become the Prime Minister.
Naidu had used the same proactive skills in getting several projects to Hyderabad, most notably the Indian School of Business and the IIIT, while Modi got several major industrial houses interested in Gujarat with his marketing genius and understanding of business.
Interestingly, Rama Rao is not only the youngest here but also not yet a Chief Minister, despite sporadic talk of his taking charge of the post. He has not only built a strong space and aeronautical hub in the city but also strengthened the software and pharma sectors, besides giving a huge boost to the start-up ecosystem. The TS-iPASS is rated by the industry as one of the best policies in India.
A few months ago, he used a page out of the Modi-Naidu playbook to lay the red carpet for Kitex, which was furious with the Kerala government policies and harassment and pulled an over Rs 1,000 crore investment into Telangana in textiles.
Can Rama Rao succeed in getting Tesla and Musk to Hyderabad? Will Musk take note and reply? Hyderabad awaits. And if Rama Rao’s gambit succeeds, he can enjoy a smile, given the political results reaped by the other visionary hustlers before him....