Sunday, August 22, 2010

Calcutta can rise from its ashes again

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

It was once known as the ‘City of Palaces’ and the place to be during the might of the British Empire. Years of stagnation has made this metropolis as a model of ‘what not to do’ and a place which no longer features on the Indian investment map let alone the global one. A city where the history of the Indian sub-continent was written for more than a century is in sorry state. Apart from the emotional attachment of its inhabitants (mainly Bengalis) it has had very little claim to fame in the post independent India.

It has been exactly six months that I landed here after having a nice career in Bangalore for close to three years. I see a Calcutta which has the potential to define business in the coming years. My point of view might be totally contrary to the great economic thinkers of the state and the country, but that may be because I am not as educated as them! It may be because I see more potential in Calcutta (thanks to its underdevelopment) than these people. This city can change and for which it needs to take a few bold steps. Some of which I think are:

  • There needs to be a change in the attitude and people need to install some pride for their city. My friend who came to this city looking for a job was asked the same question again and again in all her interviews. Why Calcutta, why not Delhi or Bangalore? She gave the smartest and the wittiest answer possible “Give your city a chance.” Rome, London, New York, Bangalore or Mumbai wasn’t built by men who didn’t have pride for their own city.
  • The local manufacturing industries (what ever exists thanks to trade unionism) have a huge local market in the state and the surrounding areas, close to a population of 200 million (including NE and neighbouring states) and should focus on that. They should draw maximum mileage out of the cost advantage that the city and the state has.
  • Calcutta’s economic policies shouldn’t be decided on the same line as that of Bengal’s. The city is a state in itself and its policies should reflect that of Mumbai and Bangalore. Both Maharashtra and Karnataka have their economic problems but their capitals have become dream destinations for job seekers. If Calcutta flourishes the tremors of development will be felt all across the state. Let is be a epicentre of development.
  • English should be brought back into mainstream eduction. The decision to revoke it was a pin prick in Calcutta’s heart. It is ironical that no great Bengali author or poet of global recognition has emerged out of the state since Bengali was chosen as the language in the state. Our biggest pride Rabindranath Tagore was a beneficiary of the Anglo-Saxon world. The Left policy should have produced many more noble laureates. Let’s give our kids a ‘competitive advantage’ as you one need it to compete.
  • Politics is not for all and it’s high time that people realise this fact. The problem with Bengal and this city in particular has been that most of the people have thought themselves as the next potential leader! We need to have active participation in politics in a good democracy but not at the cost of our karma (work/profession). Karma e Dharma (work is worship), people shouldn’t forget that and leave politics to the politicians.
  • Aristocracy isn’t bad and it shouldn’t be denounced which certain politicians championed. Educated and wealthy men were not welcome in the City and they bid adieu. The huge migration of the intellectuals and business magnets from this city has hit it hard over the years. Amartya Sen, Laxmi Mittal, Vijay Malya, Prannoy Roy, Manna Dey and the list goes on. All these men were born in the City but migrated elsewhere for their great achievements in life. How many people in the same period migrated into the City and achieved something great?

In my observation these are a few things that we can do to make this city happen again. Rajiv Gandhi once said “Calcutta is a dying city.” All Bengalis were up in arms against him although in our heart we knew he wasn’t wrong. Cities are born and they do die and from the ashes rises another new powerful one. Perhaps it is time for a renaissance in Calcutta and in Bengal. Shall we accept this challenge or keep on singing the praises of our glorious past. The choice is all ours.


avik's blog destination August 23, 2010 at 2:34 PM  

well you are very true. I guess the words professionalism, dedication and honesty do not find place any longer in the dictionary of Calcuttans. Its time for Calcuttans to really rise up and bring back the past glory.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP