The state government has sent 25 of its officers to the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore so that they “gain more exposure” and then use the experience to improve work standards here, state Finance Minister Amit Mitra said at the Emerging Tech Conclave in Kolkata, organised by The Indian Express Group, on Saturday.
“The CPM during their regime discouraged English learning as part of the curriculum in educational institutes. As a result, many bright students, who were otherwise well versed in other subjects, were at a disadvantage. Many such officers in the West Bengal cadre are still bearing the brunt. This is why we have started this programme of sending the officers to Singapore, or maybe even to Oxford, so that they can gain some exposure and eventually perform better,” Mitra said at a session with Executive Director of The Indian Express Group, Anant Goenka.
The minister said that it wasn’t just the economy of the state but the psychological, social and ideological mindset of the people have also suffered under the previous government. “When Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took over, people forgot that she had come with years of experience as a seven-time MP and also a cabinet minister at the Centre. She had written a book called Vision 2020 which I had worked on.”
“When we came to office, the state was in a mess. As many as 57,000 units (industrial) had fled the state – the largest capital flight to have taken place anywhere in the world. Former Chief Minister, Dr B C Roy had fought for the industries in Durgapur and Kalyani and also fought with Nehru to keep the Chittaranjan Rail factory. The work culture during the CPM regime was of gheraos and bandhs. The year before we took over, the state had lost 76 lakh man-days due to strikes. In the first two years, we had brought this down to 5,055. And since then the state has not lost a single man-day due to strikes and bandhs,” he said.
He added that the capital expenditure in the state has gone up 8.5 times since the TMC has taken over. “It was Rs 2,200 crore when we came to power and has almost hit Rs 20,000 crore now. We have invested in roads, schools, colleges, hospitals – essentially physical infrastructure creation. We have set up 40 multi-superspecialty hospitals at the sub-divisional level, built by Shapoorji Pallonji and L&T.”
“Initially, doctors were reluctant to join, but now they are coming forward after seeing the standard of infrastructure. We have built 14,000 km of roads right up to and inside villages,” Mitra said.
The minister said that the multinational firms, who have offices in Kolkata, are hiring more people from the city. “A Japanese concern has set up a solar panel mechanised vegetable storage unit in Singur. TCS employs as many as 40,000 people in Bengal now, possibly more than even Bangalore. Even the Tatas have 5,000 employees in the state,” Mitra said.