The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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State swings golf club to woo business

The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government’s bid to sell Bengal hits the fairways this weekend.

The setting will be the manicured greens of Tollygunge Club’s par-70 golf course. The field will cover a virtual who’s-who of corporate India, trade commissioners and consular diplomats. And the platform will be tailor-made for the state to woo foreign investors.

The second edition of the Consular Corps of Kolkata invitational golf tournament tees off at Tolly on November 8, with 78 teams, as opposed to 55 last year. This time, the state authorities are in no mood to let this break to birdie with business busybees pass.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the state as a business destination, with Tolly providing the right setting to project the positives of Calcutta and change the poor perception. We certainly don’t want Roland Joffe-like images of the city going out to the West any more,” says Atri Bhattacharya, executive director, West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC).

The WBIDC will host a lunch, followed by an interactive session with the delegations on November 10. “We will tell them about the possible areas of cooperation and what we have to offer in terms of infrastructure,” adds Bhattacharya. Danish ambassador Michael Sternberg and EU ambassador Michel Caillouet, among others, will meet WBIDC chairman Somnath Chatterjee, besides chief secretary S.N. Roy and industry minister Nirupam Sen. “Both ambassadors are expected to make “significant announcements,” says B.P. Bajoria, honorary consul of Denmark, steering the meet along with British deputy high commissioner John Mitchiner, Japanese consul-general R. Kikuchi, honorary consul of Finland Satish Kapur, and honorary consul of Sri Lanka Abhijit Sen.

ITC’s chairman Y.C. Deveshwar, Tata Steel managing director B. Muthuraman, Bata India Ltd regional CFO Dean Turner and HSBCL regional head (eastern region) J.B. Mundy are just a few names among blue-chip biggies who will wield their irons in the meet.

Keeping them company will be the consul-generals from Chile, Finland, Mongolia, South Africa, Cyprus, Mauritius, Norway, the Slovak Republic, the British High Commission, Royal Danish Consulate, Japan, besides the trade commissioners of Austria, Australia and Italy and ambassadors from the European Union, Denmark and Thailand.

Bengal Chamber of Commerce, which is supporting the meet, sponsored by Navision India and managed by Tiger Sport, is hosting its own interactive forum a day before, hoping to project the “brighter side” of the coin. “Golf is a powerful vehicle to power business and we have to make the most of this interface with the consular diplomats, who will be looking to extend economic cooperation,” says chamber president Satish Dhall.

The focus at the consular golf meet this year will be on a 20-strong French business delegation, which is likely to call on chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on November 9.

A Canadian team is expected on November 15, while a Japanese delegation will hit town for a golf-cum-business trip in January 2003.

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