The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A Buddha hour a day for barons

Calcutta, Sept 12: Over the next three days, the state government will be on an overdrive, pitching for investments. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will build bridges with CEOs who are attending the three-day national management convention organised by the All India Management Association (AIMA) from today.

This afternoon, he met Tata Sons’ director J.J. Irani and HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh at the Writers’ Buildings. Sources said the discussions revolved around business opportunities in West Bengal.

In the evening, Bhattacharjee donned the mantle of salesman, addressing the who’s who of India Inc. at the inaugural ceremony of what has been billed as “one of the biggest shows for management professionals in the country”.

From redefining the role of managers in the 21st century to stressing the use of infotech for better governance — the chief minister was talking modern management principles, not preaching Marxist maxims. He highlighted the state’s strengths, cloaked its weaknesses, gave an account of opportunities, besides focusing on the threats from “mindless globalisation”.

“Bengal’s aim is to rank among the top three states in terms of infotech revenues, which account for 15 to 20 per cent of the country’s business turnover,” said Bhattacharjee, playing a CEO who sets targets for his company.

According to him, the realisation of the vision by 2010 will lead to employment opportunities for over two lakh people in IT-enabled services and 1 lakh in IT services.

“He wants to utilise the opportunity to meet out-of-town CEOs at the AIMA convention. The chief minister has asked his office to make sure he has an hour free for one-on-one business sessions till the event is on. It’s clear that he wants to spread the message that the West Bengal government is serious about business and industry,” said a senior official at the Writers’ Buildings. Of the 800 delegates at the session, 325 have come to the city from different parts of the country.

The sessions scheduled for Friday and Saturday include meetings with WorldTel head Sam Pitroda, ONGC chairman Subir Raha, Britannia Industries’ CEO Sunil Alagh. “And it’s not only the CEOs, he has conveyed to the AIMA officials that he is even willing to meet some of the foreign delegates. He would be meeting the Korean ambassador tomorrow,” said the government official.

City industrialists and chambers lauded the state government’s initiative. “The chief minister himself meeting the CEOs sends out a positive signal to industry heads. Proactive measures like this from the government are needed to project a better image of Bengal,” a city-based baron said.

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