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CM showcases dream & cream of business

Digital push: Mamata Banerjee delivers the inaugural address at Infocom 2017, an ABP Group initiative. The three-day conclave, with digital transformation as its theme, will continue till Saturday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

Calcutta: Mamata Banerjee did not quote Martin Luther King but the obvious pastiche was not lost on her audience as she tried hard to sell Bengal as a dream destination for the information technology industry in her inaugural address at Infocom 2017, an ABP Group initiative.

"Bengal is the dream and the cream of business for the future. We want to see the dream, without a dream a man cannot survive, without a dream a company cannot survive, without a dream no humanity can survive.... Our intention is very clear. We want to create more and more jobs in this sector," she told a packed audience at the inauguration of the three-day conference.

King, a champion of civil rights, in his famous "I have a dream" address in 1963 had given a call to end racism in the US and the establishment of civil and economic rights for Afro-Americans.

Mamata's focus at Infocom - eastern India's biggest ICT conclave - was on jobs and economic growth that would power Bengal to the forefront of digital transformation.

The chief minister, however, was mindful of the fact that businesses dwell on hard numbers and are driven by a profit motive.

She announced that the long-awaited refreshed IT policy would be unveiled in January during the Bengal Global Business Summit and provided a fleeting glimpse of what it might contain. "We will give you space if you want to invest. We will give you property tax relief. We will give you other subsidies also," Mamata said during her 12-minute speech as she put out the hooks for potential investors and clearly indicated that companies would find it more lucrative to set up base here than before.

The event, which has focused on the theme of digital transformation, will witness several policymakers and politicians - Sushil Modi, Amit Mitra and Goutam Deb - mingling with over 1,200 delegates from large corporate houses, IT firms, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and governments.

Mamata, however, remained the top draw with many in the audience busy taking her picture and recording her speech on their mobiles. "She is like the CEO of the state and has rolled out her vision. This is very encouraging," said a delegate sitting in the first row.

Close to 100 speakers from business, IT, governments and SMEs are expected to participate in 55 sessions on strategy, leadership, technology and information security.

More than 250 top C-suite executives from across India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and other Saarc countries are participating in the event. The Bengal chief minister, in her sixth year in power, has been trying to whip up an industrial resurgence in the state and put a lid on the despairing talk about Bengal's dismal investment climate exacerbated by the frailties of India's demand-sapped business cycle.

Over the past three years, she has travelled to Singapore, England, Germany, Holland and Scotland to scout for investments. The Mamata government has also been hosting its annual business conclave to attract investors to explore opportunities in the state.

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