The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sen needs to sell, Subrata tells how

Jan. 11: Bengal industries minister Nirupam Sen today made a fervent appeal for non-resident Indian investments, only to be reminded of a familiar refrain: sell the state better.

Back home in Calcutta, mayor Subrata Mukherjee added his voice to a campaign on how to sell not just the state but everything: make reproductions in Bengali mandatory for advertisements in any other language on hoardings and banners.

Unlike Mukherjee, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who was also present at the Banga Sanskriti Utsav where the mayor disclosed the proposal, did not make a firm commitment on the issue.

The mayor said writer Sunil Gangopadhyay and a few others had met him recently and mooted the proposal for the language norm for hoardings and banners. “We have accepted the proposal and will soon send our observations to the state government,” Mukherjee, who belongs to the Trinamul Congress, said.

The mayor also requested the chief minister to promulgate a law to enforce the proposal. Bhattacharjee then revealed that he, too, had received a similar proposal from Gangopadhyay recently. But the chief minister said he would consider it only after receiving a specific proposal from the CMC.

Billboards in Bengali could not have been in the minds of NRIs in Delhi when they talked of “hardselling” the state, but the modest attendance at Sen’s presentation underscored the need for spadework before investment campaigns.

Sen’s meeting was hosted at a five-star hotel not far from the venue of the pravasi jamboree that concluded today but not more than two-dozen NRIs turned up. An NRI said Bengal could have done better had it spent Rs 10 lakh and hired a pavilion. “But even the solo show could have worked well if some pre-event effort had gone in,” he added.

But those who attended Sen’s programme liked what they heard. “Together, we can improve the state,” the industry minister told the NRIs. “Investment is our thrust area and we will keep it free of red tape.”

A candid Sen added: “There were problems in our labour-intensive units but we are adapting ourselves to newer technologies. You can call us labour-friendly but unless there are investments, there is no point in being labour-friendly.”

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