Seminar titled '21st Century Kolkata'

An elitist meeting on improvement plan of Kolkata

There is no appropriate slot under which this 'hub' can be categorised. Nor this is a pleasant subject to write about. I hardly pen my opinions about current affairs in blogs and 'hubs' - I so far kept my 'hubs' mostly limited to photo-journalism , e.g, terracotta temples of West Bengal. This 'hub' is an departure.

When I received an invitation from Indian Chamber of Commerce to a seminar titled '21st Century Kolkata', jointly sponsored by British Deputy High Commissioner's Office in Kolkata, scheduled to take place on 24/11/2010,I decided to join the same and invited Mr Ashitava Bhattacharya, Dy Director of ITI,Tollygunge to join me.

The seminar's organisers were handicapped right from the start - neither the Mayor nor the Kolkata Port Trust's top Executives were present. The other important person who failed to turn up was Mukul Roy, a leader of the emerging political force of West Bengal and Deputy Minister of Shipping !

I thought the presentation of Michael Charlton - CEO , 'Think London' - on 'How to attract inward investment into a city - London experience' - will be interesting in context to Kolkata. But, it was not - because he failed to connect with the Kolkatans present . He spoke about his Company's involvent in getting investment in London.... but, how we shall benefit from London experience was not at all clear.

Perhaps, the Kolkata Corporation has a  serious agenda of restoring the water front of the Ganges and develop amusement areas.museum and property. Michael Charlton's job was to broach upon this subject.Removal of tenants of the warehouses of the Kolkata Port Trust will require co-operation of the Commercial class of Kolkata - will not be easy to implement. The evacuation will be successful if the value of land now locked up in warehouses is unleashed and shared with the current occupiers in good measures.

But, in absence of the Mayor  and any of his representative, we learnt nothing of the plan Kolkata Corporation has for water front of the Ganges.

Another Company made a presentation on garbage removal - again, the speaker failed to bring out Kolkata-specific  steps planned.

I would have liked to hear if Kolkata Corporation has any plan for the foot-paths of Kolkata. There was none. Ugly foot-paths and too many auto-rickshaws will be two thorns Kolkatans have to bear with for a long while.Indian Chamber of Commerce tried hard - but, the impact of the presentation was very average.

I shall end with one observation of  Mr Ashitava Bhattacharya , Dy Director of ITI,Tollygunge. When a speaker talked about raising  the consciousness of the citizens regarding cleanliness by frequently mobilising young boys and girls from schools, he wondered why any Industry does not take  initiative and mobilise its senior executives and workforce on the streets for similar campaign. Point well made. I have  included this point in my 'Thank you' note to ICC, West Bengal chapter.

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