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Past praised, prod at present

Rajabazar: Visiting dignitaries are known to heap praise on Bengal's past without any mention of the present. But President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday told his audience at the Bose Institute that the present was not as glorious as the past.

"With that legacy (of being the scientific capital and technology hub of the country in the first half of the 20th century), and with its educational institutions, it (Bengal) should have led the IT revolution of our country. But for whatever reasons, it was a slow starter in IT and IT-enabled services. That boom moved to other states, such as those in the south of your country," he said at the closing ceremony of the Bose Institute centennial.

The President reminded the audience about scientists from Bengal being successful entrepreneurs too. "Chemist Acharya P.C. Ray, who was a friend and colleague of Acharya J.C. Bose, established Bengal Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd as the first Indian-owned pharmaceutical company. The father and son, Rajendra Nath and Biren Mookherjee, were engineers who went into industry. They established the Indian Iron and Steel Company in Burnpur. The founder of Bose Corporation in the US was Amar Bose, a technologist and academic of Bengali descent.... Clearly, when Bengali scientists and technologists turn entrepreneurs, they can be very, very successful. We need to bring back the magic of that synthesis," he said.

Urban development minister Firhad Hakim, who attended the event, blamed 34 years of Left rule for Bengal missing the IT bus.

And didn't the policies of the Trinamul government such as its refusal of SEZ (special economic zone) status to IT companies hurt industrial growth? "SEZ amounts to exploitation. We are opposed to it. We have extended other sops, and Infosys is coming," Hakim told Metro.

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