What lessons can Calcutta pick up from Shanghai, given the fact that both have ports and large hinterlands' Or for that matter, what has been the role of Chinese expatriates by way of foreign direct investment (FDI)' What drives China’s burgeoning manufacturing sector'
To provide answers to these and sundry other queries on China that intrigue Bengal and to seek out “positives in the Chinese model” that can benefit Calcutta, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Eastern Region is holding a one-day seminar on February 18, titled ‘West Bengal & China: Is there a similarity'’
“We are doing this for the tremendous interest that remains in Calcutta about China and the special emotions that the country evokes in this part of India,” explains CII regional director Amitabh Khosla. To address this “special bond” Calcutta has with China, and to explore planes of similarity, CII is bringing in “thought leaders” to throw light on this pairing.
Jairam Ramesh, secretary, economic affairs department, and P.K. Basu, director and chief economist, South East Asia & India, Credit Suisse First Boston, Singapore, will speak on the China model, drawing relevant parallels. “Both have researched areas of correspondence and will come armed with statistics which could be of use in the local context,” says Khosla.
Both Ramesh and Basu will pit Bengal against China and focus on the deviations and similitude in their presentations. “It’s a non-political forum to gauge learning that we can imbibe from them, because everybody realises the need to engage more with China on business and industry,” the CII regional director adds.
The novel seminar will also try and seek answers to why non-resident Bengalis are not as keen to invest in their hometown as Chinese expatriates, who are the largest provider of FDI in China. A study of the Bengal-China pairing in terms of a similar urban-rural divide and agriculture as the common initiator of growth will also be attempted.
CII had commissioned McKinsey for a report on ‘Learning from China to unlock India’s manufacturing potential’, which will be presented at the seminar by Shrish Sankhe, partner, McKinsey & Company. “There are obvious lessons to be learnt from China’s quantum leap in the manufacturing sector and how the policy-makers there have engineered a relocation of human capital,” observes Khosla.
A CII comparative study shows that 18.8 out of every 100 Chinese have basic phones, as against 2.6 in West Bengal. For mobile phones, the corresponding figures are 13.3 and 0.67.
Population density in China is 132.65 per sq km, compared to 904 per sq km in Bengal. Highway network per 100 people in China is 1.09 km, as opposed to just 0.060 km here.
To dissect the China model at greater length, CII plans to send two missions from eastern India this year. The first delegation, to leave around June, will comprise business and industry captains and will study fundamentals, reforms, etc. The second, planned by the year-end, will include human resources managers and trade union leaders and will concentrate on issues like labour relations and productivity.