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Economy of West Bengal

Economy of West Bengal, a state in eastern India, is highly dependent on agriculture. Agriculture is the chief occupation of the people of the state. Majority of the state population are cultivators and agricultural labours. Rice is considered to be the principal food crop of West Bengal. Other major food crops include maize, pulses, oil seeds, wheat, barley, potatoes and vegetables. The state supplies nearly 66% of the jute requirements of India. Tea is another important cash crop. Darjeeling is famous for tea plantation. Tobacco and sugarcane are also grown in the state.

Once upon a time, West Bengal was known for its position among one of the leading industrialized states of India. However, during the last twenty years the state of West Bengal has fallen back in terms of economic and social developments as compared to the other states of India. The one of the main problems associated to the image of West Bengal is the pathetic work-culture along with the negative attitude of the people towards labour and development of the state. The remodeling of the age-old educational systems and syllabus is a long due and has never been addressed. There are up to 10,000 registered factories in the state and the West Bengal state government has opened Shilpa bandhu, a single window agency in order to provide investors with all kinds of assistance in establishing and running industrial units. However, the most of the industries are struggling to cope up with labour resurgence and negative attitude to the work-culture. As a contrast to Karnataka, Maharastra, Mumbai and Delhi, the image of West Bengal is associated with red-tapism, bureaucracy, negative political activism and corruption retarding the socio-economical growth. Apart from these reasons, the retardation of the industrial investments in the state is also contributed by the shabby public/private transport system/vehicles, distorted road conditions and pathetic traffic management. According to the BBC report, the city of Calcutta (renamed to Kolkata) is one of the leading most polluted city in India boasting the possibility of lung cancer. The city of Calcutta has recently seen the drastic change in the climates due to added environmental pollutions. The wide spread poverty is much visible in all parts of West Bengal including the capital, Calcutta. Calcutta is noted as one of the major centre for industries including the jute industry. There are numerous steel plants in the state apart from the alloy steel plant at Durgapur. Currently, the Durgapur steel plant is struggling to keep its existence in the era of competitive open economy of the country. The centre has established a number of industries in the areas of tea, sugar, chemicals and fertilizers. Natural resources like tea and jute in and nearby parts has made West Bengal a major centre for the jute and tea industries.

A significant part of the state is economically backward, namely, large parts of six northern districts of Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Malda, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur; three western districts of Purulia, Bankura, Birbhum; and the Sundarbans area. Years after independence, West Bengal was still dependent on the central government for meeting its demands for food; food production remained stagnant and the green revolution bypassed the state. However, there has been a significant spurt in food production since the 1980s, and the state now has a surplus of grains. The state's share of total industrial output in India was 9.8% in 1980–81, declining to 5% by 1997–98. However, the service sector has grown at a rate higher than the national rate.

West Bengal has the third largest economy (2003–2004) in India, with a net state domestic product of US$ 21.5 billion. During 2001–2002, the state's average SDP was more than 7.8% &mdash. The state has promoted foreign direct investment, which has mostly come in the software and electronics fields; Kolkata is trying to become a major hub for the Information technology (IT) industry. West Bengal is now the third fastest growing economy in the country and needs massive rebuilding of social and educational infrastructures. However, the rapid industrialisation process has given rise to debate over land acquisition for industry in this agrarian state. NASSCOM–Gartner ranks West Bengal power infrastructure the best in the country. West Bengals state domestic product (SDP) grew in 2004 with 12.7 % and in 2005 with 11.0 %.



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