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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 March 2006, 17:38 GMT
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A village scene near Kolkata, in West Bengal
Big business is about to move into some very rural areas
On Crossing Continents on Thursday, Tanya Datta meets some of the winners and losers as the Indian city of Kolkata booms.

The city is being transformed as multinationals pour into the country's latest IT hub, but not everyone stands to benefit.

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Market-based economic reform in China has pulled several hundred million people out of poverty in a remarkably short period of time.

Mr Bhattacharya is clearly trying to steer West Bengal along the same path.

Those who truly wish to help the poor and disadvantaged should welcome this development.
Arnab K Banerji, UK

As someone who grew up in the shadow of London's Docklands development in the 1980s, I urge the residents of Kolkata not to expect any favours from the new "improvements".

My advice would be to fight hard and get as much as you can from the developers and companies who are, after all, only in this for profit. Make them build colleges as well as call centres!
NC, UK

I am happy to note that Bengal is changing at last. I hope the same will happen in Kerala.
Jay K Raman, US

It is good to know that Kolkata is rising, but the development is centred on the city itself.

One should look at West Bengal, the state, in general. Poor people are getting poorer, rich are getting richer.

There has been very little development of the villages
Partha, London
The economic divide is ever-increasing despite the Communist government at the helm for the last 30 years.

People who relied on traditional handicraft have seen their trade and profession ruined. Now they are doing menial jobs and that does not bring them a daily square meal.

There has been very little development of the villages.
Partha, London, UK

IT development in Calcutta is a welcome move, but more emphasis should be put on the manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors.

In contrast, the southern IT hubs like Bangalore and Hyderabad are budding cities and do not have any significant investment other than in the IT sector.

The moment the US and Western Europe pulls the plug on outsourcing and offshore development, many consulting companies in the south would go bankrupt overnight.

It is prudent for the state government of Bengal to attract investment in the manufacturing sector as a back-up plan to IT. Also the IT sector of Calcutta should target developing products for the local market and depend less on the West.
Shalu Bhattacharya, Canada

Well, all these changes should have happened long ago. Kolkata abounds in talent and human skills.
Bonti, India

There was once a saying "What Bengal thinks today India thinks tomorrow".

Well this saying has been buried in the past four decades, thanks to communism, militant trade unions and our short-sighted leaders.

Ironically, Calcutta and its surrounding areas has world class educational centres and engineering colleges, an ideal place for knowledge-based investment.
Sandeep, Portland, USA

I have deep reservations about the sincerity of the communists
Mahesh, Chennai
Bengal is unique amongst the backward states of India because it is the only state which - despite having adequate opportunities to move forward - has chosen to continue its retrogression.

If things are really going to change in Bengal, then that's a very good thing, though I have deep reservations about the sincerity of the communists with regards to achieving and sustaining forward movement.

And I must add, if Kolkata is serious about challenging the southern IT triumvirate of Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, then they better get started soon, because they are way behind, about 30 years to be precise.
Mahesh, Chennai, India

I was very impressed by Tanya Datta. Her presentation of what, on the face of it, did not seem too promising a subject, ie Kolkata rising from a Marxist legacy, was so natural and interesting. Let us have more of her.
Neil Smith, England

Attracting foreign investment and IT is necessary to the state's development.

However, it should not overlook what the Left Front government has achieved in the villages, where agricultural production has risen rapidly over the last three decades, after land reform.

It is important that the prosperity coming to Kolkata benefits the state as a whole, and that the new wealth is not solely concentrated in Calcutta.
Shouvik Datta, United Kingdom

As an NGO worker in Kolkata, the rise of multinational corporations here presents a very difficult situation for the millions of poverty-stricken families residing within city limits.

The poverty in Kolkata will remain, even with the rise of multinational corporations
Krista, India
I work in a slum area where one corporation is trying to buy out the land. It has been shutting down factories, and turning off electricity for the past year trying to make a statement to the people to get out. The people can't get out.

There is nowhere for them to go, no jobs elsewhere and to return to the villages would be suicide.

If the government wants to encourage the growth of their city, it needs to start by helping out the individuals it has neglected for so long.

The poverty in Kolkata will remain, even with the rise of multinational corporations, it will just be more obvious than it already is now.
Krista, India

Buddhadeb Bhattacharya is the best thing to happen to Kolkata and West Bengal since independence.

When the Chinese communists are making tremendous strides towards industrialisation I don't see why our communists cannot be just as forward thinking.

He has attracted investment to the tune of several billion dollars. Multinationals are finally coming to Bengal because of him.

The metropolis that Rajiv Gandhi once called "the dying city" is definitely emerging from economic stagnation to a much brighter future
Mohammed Sardar, Kolkata, India
He is transforming the state and providing jobs for thousands, changing the face of the state to the outside world by talking to the world's press about the New Bengal.

Even in manufacturing, the state is powering ahead. If only the communists in Delhi were so open-minded.

Those that lose land in areas such as Rajarhat will be compensated and provided with higher paying jobs and access to education and healthcare.

There are still areas of concern, strikes do still happen, and this will have to be worked on. But the metropolis that Rajiv Gandhi once called "the dying city" is definitely emerging from economic stagnation to a much brighter future.
Mohammed Sardar, Kolkata, India

Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharya is the most pragmatic chief minister India has seen in recent past but his party workers have strong socialist attitudes.
Jish, Danbury, CT

Kolkata has still a long way to go before it becomes an IT hub comparable to the cities in South India. Along with changes in the communist mindset, the Bengalis also need to embrace multi-culturalism, as we are one of the most inward-looking sections of Indian society.

True growth cannot be achieved without this.
Deep, Kolkata, India


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SEE ALSO:
Rising Kolkata's winners and losers
22 Mar 06 |  Crossing Continents
Kolkata rising
16 Mar 06 |  Crossing Continents
Country profile: India
04 Feb 06 |  Country profiles


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