For the first time in the corporate history of India,
Kolkata-based industrialists will head or be the next in command in all three
apex chambers of the country - Ficci, CII and Assocham.
While Siddharth Birla, chairman of SK Birla Group, has been
elected as Finational president, Harsh Neotia, chairman of Ambuja Neotia Group,
is national vice-president. Sumit Mazumdar, vice-chairman of TIL, will be
president-elect of CII from April 2014. Assocham will have a president from
east after many years in 2014 as Sunil Kanoria, vice-chairman of Srei
Infrastructure, takes over from Rana Kapoor of Yes Bank. Birla, though based in
Delhi now, is the nominee of Indian Chamber of Commerce and was born and
brought up in Kolkata.
Industry looking East
Industry experts feel it is a rare opportunity for the
government to build an image using the apex chambers. It may be noted that CII
partnership summit was held in Kolkata in 1996 when Rajiv Kaul was at the helm.
It returned to Kolkata in 2006 when ITC chairman Y C Deveshwar was CII
Ficci organized major events when city-based industrialists
were at the top. Former Ficci presidents from Kolkata include S K Birla, Duncan
Goenka Group chairman G P Goenka, Late R P Goenka, Adventz Group chairman Saroj
Poddar, Sudhir Jalan and S S Kanoria.
Sumit Mazumdar pointed out that the eastern region,
specifically Bengal, is like a "developing nation where demand is high but
homegrown availability is low". "For various reasons,
industrialization has been lower than many other states. This provided a unique
opportunity in terms of demand. With the new state government there has been
considerable interest among investors. Top get the right traction the
opportunities of doing business in the state needs to be widely marketed,"
Industry upbeat in Bengal
Harsh Neotia feels that it is a unique opportunity to
project Bengal as well as East. "We shall try to host important events in
the city," he said. ICC secretary general Rajeev Singh opined that the
four representatives of Kolkata should be actively engaged by the state
government in utilizing the reach and strength of CII, Ficci and Assocham
towards new investments in the state. "This is a rare coincidence. The
state government must ask all three Chambers to bring at least two to three
large national and international events to Kolkata. This would help showcase
investment opportunities, facilitate dialogue with key opinion leaders and
build Brand Bengal," he said.