The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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German model, local hardsell
- Chamber chalks out commerce ’n’ culture showcase for Calcutta

Germany has an annual Oktoberfest; closer home, Pune plays host to the Pune Utsav during Ganesha puja. Now, it’s time for Calcutta to keep a date with a winter week of business-cum-pleasure.

That’s what the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) will soon propose to Writers’ Buildings. “We talk so much about changing the perception about the state. But for that, we need people to come here, spend some time and spread a positive word about the city. So, we are looking at an event that will bring the right kind of people to the city, who will see it for themselves to believe in it,” said Vikram Thapar, president, ICC, on Monday.

But what about the fact that many Calcuttans themselves are anything but bullish about Calcutta' A small step to address the perception problem of the city within the city was taken on the Strand on the first day of this year. The daylong festival on the waterfront was of, by and for Calcuttans.

Here too, the ICC-led winter fest promises to play a part. While attempting to inspire “an image makeover for the city”, the event will also aid the process of “pride-building” among Calcuttans. “As Calcuttans, we have downplayed our strengths and that becomes very clear when visitors tell us that the city is much better than what they had expected,” said Nazeeb Arif, ICC secretary-general.

The city-based Chamber is drawing up a roster of events with a mix of “commerce and culture”. So, a music medley, a business conference, a film festival, an art show and a food mart will jostle for space and attention. According to the drawing-board plan, this will be an annual event in November or December to promote the city’s potential as “a business destination, tourist hotspot and cultural hub”.

“We are working on a detailed proposal and also exploring the options of joining hands with some other city Chambers. We foresee a facilitator’s role for the government,” added Thapar. Though the focus will clearly be on Calcutta, the organisers are keen to use the event to showcase the Northeast, as well. Representatives from the Seven Sisters will be roped in to make this a mega show.

“The core objective will be to project the city, the state and this part of the country in proper light,” said Arif. Portraying a “lively and vibrant” image of the city to make it attractive to the younger generation is also vital. “We want to use Park Street, which symbolises the city’s vibrancy, as the heart of the show.”

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