Unlike the rest of the states, what's so different about Kolkata?
There was a time when people said that what Kolkata thinks today, India thinks tomorrow. From being the first metro to being the most mismanaged city in the country. Where did things go wrong?
Kolkata was the capital of India from 1772 to 1911. The name Kolkata was made official in the year 2001. Before that, it was Calcutta. Formed in the year 1686 by Job Charnock, however, the city was always known as Kolkata as most Bengalis that resided there pronounced it as Kolkata and not Calcutta.
That's some facts about the city. Now directing towards the concern that I raised. How did the first metro of the country come to its present miserable state?
Based on GDP, Kolkata was at rank 1 in all of India in the year 1960. Today it's the 23rd. In 1947, Kolkata's contribution in industrial output for the country was at a staggering 24%; then it came down to a paltry 5% by 1998. Human Development Index chart has the city at number 28, which is even below the country's average. There are several reasons.
Bengal had to face the wrath of two gruesome partitions during its colonial history. The oncoming communal riots and refugee crisis could be attributed to these partitions. The death of the Jute industry post the 1947 partition was when the economic crisis for Bengal began.
The centre led by congress too played a hand by introducing the freight equalization policy (1952)
which took away the business from mineral-rich states like West Bengal, Madhya, Pradesh, Orissa and Bihar.
The rise of Naxalism - A group of self-styled Maoist revolutionaries gained momentum in the state. During this time, the state saw a substantial increase in violence, vandalism and murder. Industries fled, unemployment saw a peak.
The state's deterioration could also be attributed to the newly formed government in 1977 when Jyoti Basu came to power. Now it was the Left-wing that was prevailing, and they prevailed for 3 long decades. And under their reign, Bengal faced four catastrophic events like the Marichjhapi massacre in 1978, Kolkata Firing 1953, Nanoor Massacre 2000 and Choto Angaria Massacre 2001.
After a long-long time, the only good thing that probably happened in the state was the successful bagging of the Nano project for the Singur district by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who replaced Basu when she resigned in the year 2003. however, the government failed to acquire the land from an SEZ (special economic zone), which led to an emergency in which about14 people died in a police shooting. This entire thing backfired, and the TATA's then decided to shift the manufacturing plant to Gujarat, a state that became one of the country's major manufacturing hubs.
Buddhadeb's failures led to the left-wing backed government's complete wipeout by the current lady chief Minister Mamta Banerjee.
We know how well the state has done in the past few years and on how many parameters has the state outperformed other states under Mamta's leadership. Today, even she is challenged by yet another challenger who claims to transform Bengal and help it claim its lost glory. Now the onus is on us, the citizens of Bengal and India, to decide who should sit on the throne.