Does Bengal Really Mean Business? Or is it just another PR stunt?

Only Miz. Mamta can make a statement like this with a straight face. And pretend she means it. Pretend that she really wants industry to come to her state.

Does she not know that industry needs a modicum of infrastructure so that it can function?

Does she not know that industry needs educated people to run factories?

Does she not know that industry needs a hard working not a hardly working population?

Does she not know that to move raw material and finished products industry needs roads that can be navigable by something called a truck and not by ricksha or hand cart / thela or on someone’s head?

Does she not know that industry cannot be held to ransom by a bunch of do-nothing? But threaten goons?

Does she not know at least some workers should be from Bengal and not almost all from out of state?

Does she not know that workers need decent housing and food facilities?

Does she not know that if industry is to be profitable and grow and invest it cannot have the capacity to employ, that is absorb never-show-up-party-men or ghost names on their pay-roll?

Or does she know all this and not have the spine to admit it?

Does she not have the political will or possess a Indian nationalist heart to change the course of her politics and political short cuts which only ensure her rule but do zero for the welfare of the people?

But first, what did the Bengal Means Business achieve in concrete rupee terms and concrete time lines? Considering that “the doyens of the Indian industry” which included steel magnate L. Mittal, Mr. Ambani of Reliance, the entire Jindal lot, Mr. Biyani of the Future Group all attended. Not a patch on what they do in states where the state means business and not goonda-ism.

Spice Jet’s CEO ‘s speech epitomized the feeling Big Business actually has. Spice Jet may explore the possibility of manufacturing sea-planes in West Bengal, its Chairman Ajay Singh said. MAY EXPLORE does not sound like investment does it? While, Singh did not specify even a single plan, he ‘grandly’ pointed out that the company was keen to explore the possibility of manufacturing these Air-crafts here in the state.

Also, on the Spice Jet agenda was a vision, note – a vision – not concrete time-bound plans, to start operations of such sea plane services in areas like Gangasagar or in the Sunderbans. ‘Vision’ and ‘Explore’ in a Business Investment Form?

NOT a pledge is it? Next, Laxmi Mittal.

Seen in this photo from the India Express sharing a joke or figuring out the time on their respective watches makes for a nice photo and great camaraderie. But did he share his wealth? NO! nor did he promise to pledge even a English halfpenny.

China, Poland, South Korea, Italy and the U.K., all bosom buddies of the TMC government also participated in Mamta’s Bengal Means Business. Ma Zhanwu, the Chinese consul general in Kolkata said the Chinese delegation is looking for opportunities to develop business relations between their provinces and Indian states, but the delegation has not firmed up any plan for investment yet in West Bengal.

Looking for opportunities is NOT investment in the near future, is it? So much for ‘investors’ in Bengal who are noteworthy.

Though, Mr.  Ambani did promise investments to grow his businesses (does he well know the Bengali penchant for talking endlessly) and the Jindals -all attended en masse a d threw in a few crumbs. BUT why is the BIG MONEY hesitant to put their yuan, rupees, lira, pounds or dollars where their mouth of friendship is?

Here is a pictorial tour of why no significant industrial investment will ever come to West Bengal. Let us start with the basics that labour needs: Housing. Agreed housing is in short supply even in Dubai and in Hong Kong. As in seen in this photo from the newspaper South China Morning Post.

But tell me if this is what an industrialist wants for when he looks for housing for daily wage laborers in Kolkata? One of the thousands of slums in Kolkata as the magazine DNA once published.

And, the sad reality is -a roof in a slum is a luxury as this onion ‘thela wala’ in this photo from Outlook magazine accepts.

Slums house millions of families. that means millions of children. So where re the schools to ensure that at least the next generation of labour is educated? The communists destroyed the good schools and colleges that WB especially Kolkata was famous for. The result of below mediocre school is seen in some calendars where February comes with extra days in it!

Even if one gives West Bengal the benefit of the doubt and says…ok some investment will come? How does the government plan to have raw material and finished goods transported? For this is the most common state of transport almost everywhere. Whether the goods are for factories or if moving house!

As far as roads go. There is no space or scope to broaden them. With millions on the pavements, sleeping, with shops or slums encroaching almost all roads except those in the very posh area where the rich, the famous or politicians live…all of West Bengal’s roads are encroached on.

Does anyone who is familiar with Bengal bandhs and hartals really think This Government will bulldoze the homes of their vote banks and broaden the road? No roads equal no reliable mass transport equals no industry. Then there are the goons. Who room around all over on snazzy bikes. Keeping an eye on things. Making sure the moolah comes in.

This is what they ride, and this is what they look like.

They are everywhere. Is this what business wants looking over their shoulders?? I rest my case.

PS: This forum was written on by Bloomberg Quint in an article, titled 15 reasons why Bengal Means Business. In the very first line they acknowledged the article was sponsored by Bengal Global Business Summit 2018.

And you can read how hopeless West Bengal’s attractions are in the fact that there are as good as zero details on the parameters Industry looks for translates to zilch, de nada, zero.

As for next year… Bengal Means Business, Version 2 will be on billboards again.