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Bengal Tiger On The Prowl

Calcutta rises from an economic grave led by a determined Mamata Banerjee 

8/29/2014 3:40:44 PM
written By : Prasenjit K Basu Print

Until 1867, Singapore was administered from Calcutta, a city in eastern India that went into a steep decline after it ceased to be British India’s capital in 1912. Nonetheless, as late as the mid-1960s, Calcutta was still India’s largest city - and its cultural and intellectual hub. Then, communism gripped the political life of the city, with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) gaining a stranglehold over West Bengal in 1977 - which they didn’t relinquish until 2011 - and Calcutta became a backwater.

The stormy petrel of Bengali politics, Mamata Banerjee, ousted the CPI(M) in 2011 and mounted a titanic struggle to undo the damage wrought by 34 years of communist rule - most prominently, a catastrophic work-culture characterised by workers’ frequent resort to strikes. By 2010, nearly half of all man-days lost through union-induced stoppages across India were in West Bengal. The legacy persisted into 2011, with a total of 7.8 million man-days lost that year. Banerjee instituted a “no strike” policy, and there has been a dramatic improvement: just over 5000 man-days were lost in 2012-13, and none were lost in the past year. 

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