Friday, September 18, 2009

Buddha saves Bengal's IT dream?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

On the eve of the biggest festival in West Bengal there is something for the entire state to cheer about. There is some ray of hope for the almost scrapped IT projects involving giants Infosys and Wipro. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has offered both the firms 45 acres of land each in Rajathat for their development centre. This after the State Government was unable to hand over the promised 100 acres of land to the IT majors as a fallout of the Vedic Village carnage. The situation had been so bad that the state IT Minister Debesh Das had sent regret letters to both firms.

After the misadventure of the Tata Nano project in Singur this was seen as another blow to the state's re-industrialisation process. This was a huge setback for Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who hasn't left any stone unturned for the last nine years to revive the state's economy. He has had to fight against fringe elements within his own party as well as the opposition. No body doubts the man's intent to make the state of West Bengal an industrialised state and regain past glory which it has lost post independence particularly the last three decades of since the Left came to power.

It is quite a funny situation as many IT investors want to set up development an delivery centres in the state despite many road blocks. The stepping of bodies like NASSCOM into the issue shows the huge potential that lies in the state with regards to the Information Technology sector. A major advantage for the IT and BPO firms operating in Kolkata is the cost. Due to the low operational cost and relatively cheaper labour in comparison to a Bangalore, Hyderabad or Pune, Kolkata is a city with huge potential for the IT and BPO business.

After the debacle in the Lok Sabha polls the Left has been trying hard to put up a pro-people and pro-industry image. The opposition which has been scoring victories one after another in the state had jumped in to cash on the chaos. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee taking personal interest to prevent these projects from slipping out of the hands of the state which is starving for investment. The post Tata Nano period hasn't been easy for the state with many potential investors having pulled back from their proposed investments in the state.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee understands that these two projects are not just the about the 16000 odd jobs that they would create but the entire Brand Bengal is at stake with these projects. But no project in Bengal is finished till it is completely finished as we have seen in the case of Tata Nano. For now all of us can just hope and pray that both the IT majors accept the Government's offer and there are no further roadblocks to the project. It is a better start to the puja season this time around after Tata pull out of the eve of last year's puja.


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