The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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If it’s money, Bengal’s hot on trail

Calcutta, Sept. 13: Buddha’s Bengal can give Krishna’s Karnataka and Naidu’s Andhra a run for their money in the inter-state race to scoop up investment.

That’s not the boast of movers and shakers in Writers’ Buildings. Instead, the certificate of distinction comes from McKinsey & Co., which is helping the state government in courting investments for its promising infotech and agri-businesses. Besides Bengal, the international consultant is helping Andhra and Karnataka governments put their best feet forward.

“Bengal has big advantages and we are determined to bring about a change. We are bullish about the state’s prospects in attracting capital in IT-enabled services, agri-business, housing and retail chains,” said McKinsey’s principal Ranjit Pandit, who was in town on Friday to attend the national management convention organised by the All India Management Association (AIMA).

“Working with the Bengal government has been a great experience for us and we got all the support from them,” added Pandit. He lauded the authorities for launching initiatives such as the IT-enabled services policy. State IT minister Manab Mukherjee announced on Friday that his government will announce a new infotech policy within the next two months to “create an enabling environment for the growth of IT industry.

McKinsey was enlisted in November last year to sell the state to potential investors. A dedicated team comprising five consultants and a clutch of government officials have been criss-crossing the country to pitch for investments over the past six months.

Referring to the controversy over contract farming in the proposed draft agricultural policy prepared with inputs from McKinsey, Pandit said: “The term has different meanings for different people. We mean contract marketing that ensures reasonable prices and captive buyers for farmers.”

The debate over “contract farming”, which ignited a war of words among the Left leaders and forced the government to dilute McKinsey’s influence in its policies, has had no impact on “long-term” relationship between the state and the consultants, Pandit said.

“The test would be the amount of investments that come in. We are in discussions with a group of 10 large investors and the results would be clear within the next couple of months,” said Pandit. He, however, refused to name the companies and the investment figures.

According to sources in Writers’, the state government — which is coughing up somewhere between Rs 4-5 crore for the annual contract with McKinsey — is happy with the consultancy major’s performance. “We wanted them to give us investments worth 40 times their fees and it seems that they can meet the target,” said a senior state government official.

The expression of contentment came from Mukherjee, who said he was happy with McKinsey’s performance, and hinted at the renewal of its contract. “We have worked as a team over the past nine months. I must say that they have worked wonders for us,” he added.

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