West Bengal is India’s sixth largest economy, and recorded a gross state domestic product (GSDP) of US$ 132.86 billion in 2014-15. It is also the 2ndmost densely populated state in the country, and is home to one of the largest domestic consumer markets. Its location advantage makes the state a traditional market for eastern India, the Northeast, Nepal and Bhutan. It is also a strategic entry point for markets in Southeast Asia.
West Bengal has a distinct advantage to become pivot to India’s Act East policy. Its geographical proximity to eight states of North East and four nations (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar) opens up ample opportunities to become the gateway to East and South East Asia. Its land proximity to North East can act a potential axis to North East – Myanmar connectivity, which emerged a new dimension of Indo – Pacific outreach after Myanmar attained full democracy in November 2016.
Kolkata is the third most populated city in India and provides a huge market for investors from east Asia and Europe. It is also a logistics hub with connectivity to all parts including neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan as well as Myanmar and Thailand. It also has a skilled labour force.
West Bengal, which is considered to be one of the lowest in the cost competitiveness manufacturing place in India and having the advantage of geographical proximity, can act an ideal place for partnerships for businesses in ASEAN and Europe. Like developing countries, West Bengal can offer a unique opportunity to be the hub for exports to ASEAN, Europe and other Asian countries for their entrepreneurs.
It is also interesting to see the outside world taking note of the potential which exists in Eastern Indian states, while also being interested in benefitting from the location of Kolkata in the context of India’s Act East Policy. A number of steps will need to be taken to ensure that investors begin to pay more attention to Eastern India. The first is being more investor friendly. A turnaround for West Bengal would mean a turnaround for Eastern India, and this will definitely give a fillip to India’s growth story.
The eastern region of India has seen great economic growth in recent times and is now moving ahead at a good pace. This region is endowed with numerous rich mineral deposits, forests and productive & fertile soil, as well as rich cultural heritage.
Young Thinkers’ Conference
Keeping in mind the potential of West Bengal to drive India’s Act East Policy and the trade and investment opportunities the east India region presents, The Dialogue, with support from British Deputy High Commission, Kolkata, will organize the 2ndYoung Thinkers’ Conference in Kolkata, on 11thAugust 2018 at The Great Ballroom, The Lalit Kolkata, titled “UK, West Bengal & East India – Shared Prosperity for a Shared Future”.
The focus will be on the role of West Bengal and East India as a trade and investment hub in South Asia and the potential to trade with the UK. The conference will also aim to bring together issues that concern the youth of the region and to drive participation from young professionals in order to shape the partnership of West Bengal and the UK for the future
As part of our public discourse activities, conferences are an important channel to bring together key inputs. The Young Thinkers’ Conference is one of the most influential platforms in India to drive policy advocacy, government engagement, thought leadership and stakeholder deliberations.
It is the British High Commission’s flagship foreign and security policy conference, which brings together the best and brightest experts and young thinkers to discuss a range of issues. Already well established in Delhi, where it has been held for the last 6 years, the conference made its Kolkata debut last year. This year will be the second iteration of the event.
The conference is attended by public intellectuals, thought leaders, young thinkers, senior government officials and stakeholders from business, education sector, start-ups, technology and media. It is one of the most significant events held on policy and governance that lead the discourse on the roadmap for the future.
The conference is impactful as the discourse and deliberations at the event are converted into an Outcome Document for policy action. By bringing in subject matter experts to speak at the event, the conference enables a strong intellectual output that helps drive long term policy impact.
The discussions are converted into a memorandum of actionable points and advisory on policy formulation and implementation on the subjects around which the event takes place. For this year, the focus will be to gather and develop inputs around start-ups, technology, skills, trade and investment.