Saturday, September 12, 2009

Can Pranab da save Bengal's IT dream?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

If it was Tata Nano's pull out from Singur last year before the Durga Puja, it is the West Bengal government's inability to give land to IT majors Infosys and Wipro that has left the people shocked this festive season. The people of the state may soon become used to getting shocker just ahead of the biggest festivity of the state. But why now? After the Lok Sabha polls everybody was cheering that a wind of change was blowing across Bengal but here we are back to square one.

The truth is Bengal especially Kolkata is far behind the national race when it comes to information technology revolution. The IT industry in the Kolkata can only be compared to the smaller towns in South India let alone comparing it with a Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai or Pune. The Left Hand Drive in the state for ages opposed anything that was American which also meant IT depriving lakhs of youths of a decent job in their state and forcing them to migrate down south.

But once Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee took over and put his heart and soul into industrialisation people saw a ray of hope. But a CM is just as good as his party and the wrongs of three decades are coming back to haunt the CM and his government. Buddhadeb could have easily been celebrated as one of the most forward looking Chief Minister had he been in any other state other than West Bengal. But he has been let down by his own party and an opposition which behaved irresponsibly during many occasion. Chasing out the Tata's from a de-industrialised state could not have been sane man's job.

There is a school of thought in the state which feels that any industrialisation would mean dooms day for the farmers. But cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune have boomed by land accusation and there are thousands of stories of where a poor farmer selling his land and drove an air-conditioned sedan. In a modern state both there should be opportunities for both the rural and urban population. What does an educated youth from the state do, dump himself into the Bay of Bengal? After all he cannot see any modern industry coming into his state.

The only ray of hope now seems to be in Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee who said on that he will speak to the West Bengal government on allocating land to IT majors. He pointed out that the IT majors would be able to provide employment to 5,000 to 10,000 people and many more indirect jobs for both the educated and uneducated people in the state. If Pranab Mukherjee can pull this off it will be the political master-stroke of his career.


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