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India Today Conclave: Bibek Debroy pins down the problem with Bengal's manufacturing sector

BusinessToday.In     February 11, 2021

Chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Committee Bibek Debroy said that West Bengal has a significant manufacturing sector but the problem is the nature of manufacturing in the state. He also said that the state has just about performed average in recent times and asked if West Bengal is content being average. Debroy said that Bengal has been believing that the Centre treats it like a stepmother for ages.

Speaking at India Today Conclave East session titled 'Economic Agenda: What stops industrial enterprise in Bengal', Bibek Debroy said that it is not that there is no manufacturing in West Bengal but the kind of manufacturing that is the problem. "So far as manufacturing is concerned it is not that there is none in West Bengal. Number of people employed in manufacturing in Bengal is thrice than that in Gujarat. Problem is the nature of manufacturing. The manufacturing here is micro cottage manufacturing. How many of the traditional manufacturing will survive now?" he asked.

Debroy said, "No one is blaming Bengal. But in the midst of the slowdown there were states that performed relatively better than West Bengal. We have to put the question in perspective of states like Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat."

The PM's adviser said that it is time for West Bengal to stop pointing fingers at others and ask the question if something is wrong with it. "I would stop pointing fingers at others and try and ask the question of is there something wrong with me and focus a little less on the propaganda and ask myself the question that in the 60s, until the time of Bidhan Chandra Roy, West Bengal was among the top. Today, West Bengal is just about average. Is Bengal content with being just average?" he asked.

When asked how the problem with the manufacturing sector can be dealt with, Bibek Debroy said that there are a few things to keep in mind. The state must figure out if it needs manufacturing and what kind since modern manufacturing is not labour intensive. The next thing to keep in mind is stock of land. Debroy said private players cannot be expected to acquire land and set up facilities. He then said that Bengal needs to figure out why train-loads of students leave the state to acquire higher education and skills. He said law and order, labour, roads are among the key requirements needed for the revival of industrialisation. Debroy further added that an administration that delivers governance is a must. He said that the state must look within to solve its problems.

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