Bengal – From Leftism To Just Right For Business
sheer irony that West Bengal till today is haunted by its
past. The state, which has produced the finest of talents,
be it in art and culture, science and technology or any other
fields, is still regarded as a place where things move at
a snails pace, where militant trade-unionism still rules
the day, where power cuts are common and where the people
flaunt civic rules with impunity at the smallest pretext.
But things have changed and that too for the better. West
Bengal or for that matter Kolkata, the state capital, are
very different from what they used to be. Gone are the days
when red flags used to dot the citys skyline. The State
now boasts of excess power. Power cuts are a thing of the
past and the civic amenities too have improved a lot in the
infrastructure has improved considerably, be it roads, bridges,
housing facilities or transport. Several new bridges and flyovers
are coming up in the city facilitating easy and better connectivity.
Housing, a major problem of the last century has been solved
by developing Salt Lake, the satellite township. New
Town at Rajarhat on the outskirts of the city and other
housing projects being developed by the Bengal Ambuja, Bengal
Peerless etc along the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass would further
reduce the difficulties of the urban populace.
But despite such progress, perception about the state
still remains a major hurdle for fresh initiatives here. While
part of the blame can be put down to history, lack of information
about the state often adds to this negative image. But recently,
the state government has initiated several measures which
should help it in shedding this stigma.
The state, which witnessed industrial unrest in the 70s
and 80s, has seen a flurry of industrial activities
especially in the field of information technology (IT) and
electronics. Prominent entrants are PricewaterhouseCoopers
(PwC), Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Cognizant Technology
Solutions (CTS), Computer Associates, The Chatterjee Group
(TCG), SkyTech Solutions (a TCG-United Airlines joint venture),
SchlumbergerSema, Siemens, Agilent Technologies, ITC Infotech,
RS Software and many others. Most of them operate from the
state-of-the-art Salt Lake Electronics Complex in the city.
Recently, domestic IT majors Wipro Limited and Infosys too
have evinced keen interest in setting up their software development
facilities in the city. Wipro would soon be operating from
International, the white goods major, would also be setting
up their manufacturing unit in the state. Philips India is
expanding its production facilities at Kolkata.
Buoyed by these industrial activities the state government
is going all out to woo private investors to set up shop in
the state. It has roped in international consultants McKinsey
& Co. to chalk out the future roadmap for the state.
Sectors like IT, electronics, food processing, infrastructure,
leather and leather goods and knowledge-based industries have
been accorded the top-most priority by the state government.
Apart from IT and electronics, several major industrial projects
have been commissioned in the state, which includes the Rs
5,170-crore Haldia Petrochemicals project, the Rs 1,600 crore-Mitsubishi
Chemicals PTA plant at Haldia and several projects at Durgapur
and in and around Kolkata.
The state government has set up a Gems & Jewellery Park
and a Toy Park at Salt Lake to facilitate the growth of these
The fully-equipped state-of-the-art Leather Complex at Bantala,
on the outskirts of the city when fully operational would
be a dream come true for leather goods manufacturers and exporters
of the state. The project is being promoted by ML Dalmiya
& Co. The government has also set up a Food Park at Dankuni
for food processing units to set up their facilities.
on to perception about the state and its performance, it would
be worth mentioning here that a recent report prepared by
the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), has ranked
West Bengal second in terms of investment projects commissioned/completed
in the financial year 2000-2001. And not only that, it has
the state 5th in projects commissioned/completed in the last
three fiscal years (1998-99 to 2000-01). This negates the
scepticism that things move at a snails pace in West
It must be mentioned here that most of the IT players operating
from the state have repeatedly stated that they have never
faced any sort of labour unrest in any of their units.
IT-preneuers are of the opinion that the state houses a pool
of trained manpower and all the requisites to emerge as an
IT destination of the country. Kolkata, they feel, has tremendous
potential for growth in the IT Enabled Services (ITES) industry.
Not only industrial infrastructure, social infrastructure
too has improved over the years. The city boasts of international
standard clubs, world-class golf courses, several well-equipped
corporate hospitals and medical care units, entertainment
facilities, shopping malls, luxury hotels and nightclubs.
Nicco Park, Science City, Nandan are the latest hotspots of
the city. Kolkata registers one of the lowest crime rates
in the country.
The only thing the state lacks in is proper dissemination
of information, which the government is addressing seriously.
latest initiatives by the state government have opened up
new vistas of opportunities for those making a beeline to
invest in West Bengal. It is now for the private entrepreneurs
to reap the benefits of these initiatives. We hope that in
the years to come, the state is poised to become a heaven
for the private investors.