Good times are back for the state. Industrial investments in West Bengal had suffered in the past few years. Factors like a nebular industrial policy, lack of interest among investors and political events giving a misplaced sense of the state government being anti-industry had contributed in creating a misconception.
However, the current government has now managed to turn the tables. Data published by the Central Department for Industrial Policy and Promotion for the first seven months of 2013 shows that from January to July, 23 industrial units have started production in the state. Their total investment is Rs 1407 crore. Significantly, this is the highest amount of investment in the state in the last four years.
Besides these, construction of 12 large industrial units involving investments of a few thousand crore is also on in full swing. These large projects are slated to be completed in the next three years. Industrialists in the state feel that after completion of all these projects, the scenario in the state would improve by leaps and bounds.
This news of the spurt in industrial growth comes on the back of the highly successful industry summit Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held in Mumbai last month. According to senior officials of the chambers of commerce and industry in the state, this resurgence in the state is the result of the efforts put in by the chief minster to overcome the negative perception of the state.
“The fact that you (Chief Minister of West Bengal) have come here within 48 hours of winning the Panchayat polls says you mean business.”
– Mukesh Ambani at the Mumbai Industry Summit
“Chief Minister, you have won the day… Mukesh has committed, so many more will follow.”
– Y. C. Deveshwar Rao, Chairman, ITC
Bouyed by the success of the Industry Summit in Mumbai and the renewed interest of investors for setting up projects in the state, the West Bengal government has decided to project Kolkata as the next big destination for golf tourism. With the growing interest of the corporate houses in investing in the state, this was but a natural conclusion.
The history of golf in India as well as in Kolkata began more than a hundred and eighty years ago, with the establishment of the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC). The British East India Company brought the game to Kolkata, then the capital of the British India, as a pastime for its officers.
The India connection began in 1829 (as the RCGC officially says, though some point to 1830), when a group of East India Company officers formed the Dum Dum Golfing Club, where the city’s international airport now stands. From there it moved to the Maidan and changed its name to Calcutta Golf Club. It was in 1910 that it moved to its present home in Tollygunge in the southern part of the city (then the southern fringe, as there was very little of the city beyond Tollygunge).
The ‘Royal’ was added in 1911, when King George V and Queen Mary conferred on it the honour during their visit to Kolkata. It was the first club outside Great Britain and the second outside Scotland, the first being The Royal Blackheath golf club in London. That makes it the third oldest golf club in the world, and of course the oldest in Kolkata. Now that is some history for Kolkata to be proud of!
In tune with the plans of repositioning Kolkata on the global map of golf destinations, and rejuvenating the sport in the city, the West Bengal government has cleared an ambitious proposal made by the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, aiming at restructuring the golf scene in the city as a whole. The government has agreed to a proposal from RCGC to develop 5 acres of land, belonging to the golf club. The government has also made it mandatory that all profits have to be put back into the sport and used for the development of the sport in the city.
Among the exciting new changes proposed by RCGC are:
- Re-laying of the course to make it more suitable to the vagaries of Kolkata weather (to make it play ready in 60 minutes after a heavy shower)
- Building of an world class golfing institution in the city
- Water Harvesting and management
- Building a proper academy
- Coaching facilities for juniors
- Upgrade of the swimming area into a wellness complex complete with infinity pool
- A new changing room (to meet the strict conditions of European tour)
- A new bar
- A Royal tower (club) with rooms and other facilities
Several well-known Indian golfers in India have had their beginnings in Kolkata. Perhaps the most prominent among them is SSP Chaurasia. Son of a greenskeeper at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, and later a caddy there, he rose from his humble beginnings to win the inaugural Indian Masters in 2008.
The city continues to produces excellent players, both men and women. For decades, the history of golf in India has been synonymous with that of Kolkata. Kolkata has a very prominent place in the country’s golfing heritage, and has a high stake in the game’s future in India as well.