......Pijush Ranjan Ghosh, agrees. “Being in Calcutta, you can have the best of both worlds — it’s a cheaper and safer place to live in and you can still try and reach the sky,” says Ghosh, now working on an IBM project in Athens.
A leading news paper is doing a story on revival of Calcutta. So one of the reporter wanted to know my views on certain things.
1) Do you really think Calcutta has changed for the better?
Yes for sure. Not only in IT, but also in different private sector job opportunities have grown up in last few years. Educational facilities are improving and the avenues for better life is increasing.
2) Do bright young men like you really want to stay on here, instead of leaving for cities like Bangalore or Mumbai?
Definitely, as we have good industrialization in our home state, there is no point staying in costly cities like Bangalore or Mumbai, which is far from home. Staying outside Bengal was not a choice for us. We had to go there for better job and life as Calcutta was not that developed even few years back.
3) What about your colleagues (both Bengali and non-Bengali)? Do they want to come back to Cal? if so, why?
Yes, most of the Bengali colleagues are looking for good options in Kolkata. If the nature of job and salary is somehow comparable, I think most of the Bengalis will try to come in home state, unless they are well settled elsewhere. They want to come back because of our culture, adherences to home town (even though they are not from proper Calcutta, they will be still closer to their home town). If we are working outside Calcuatta, we have a feeling that we are migrants and want to get settled in our home town.
For the non-Bengalis it is important to feel at home. I have seen some north Indians want to be in Calcutta. Initially they don’t like it, but once they started staying, they are happy with this living city. But majority of non-Bengalis do not want to come here.
4) what are the advantages of staying in Calcutta? do you get the same opportunities these days in Cal as in any other city in India?
Advantages over other cities
Good Education for children
Good Industry (IT and non-IT)
Good Culture (specially Bengali Culture)
Living City with different events going on all times of the year
Large Shopping Malls
Less Communal violence
Less sporadic conflicts
More safe for girls than Delhi and Mumbai
Cheap accommodation – Apartments are not that costly like mega cities in India
Bengali food and restaurants, fresh vegetables, fishes
Disadvantages over other cities
· Communication – Traffic Jam - The city had not been expanded significantly in last few decades; however the population has grown up intrinsically. If one have a chance to look into Google Earth, can see how much free space we have in eastern sector of our city. But we are pretty reluctant to move out of our comfort zone. As a result we are now living in a congested city full of traffics and dusts, where only 8% of the surface areas are roads and streets (much below of the standard level).
· Medical facilities – this is not very good in Calcutta. We can expect better nursing homes in cheap prices.
· The leftist approach is also holding the growths in some issues.
5) Do you think the brain drain has stopped and that the people don'twant to leave this city any more?
No, as the major brains are used to leave for abroad still now. But definitely, we want to stay in Kolkata, rather than migrating to any other Indian cities.
I terribly miss Boimela, Durga Puja, My parents when I am outside Bengal.
Dayafter, I received the feedback from Kuntal Dey in same topic. It is really interesting and well explained. So, I have included it in my blog.
Thanks for forwarding the survey. I'll reply with my ownthoughts on the topic.
Here goes. Much of it is as seen from a softwareprofessional's point of view. Please get back ifaddtions/alterations are required or I am not addressingthe right issue. I'll be happy to co-operate.
1) Do you really think Calcutta has changed for the better?
Answer: Yes, I do think Calcutta is moving in a positivedirection.
From a software engineer's percpective, Calcutta hasstarted offering more opportunities both at the entry andupper levels compared to a few years back.
From a citizen's perspective, infrastructure such as water,electricity, road and transport have improved a lot and arebecoming all the better. However, there is a lot to do.From a top view, we have a structure and the structure isfalling in place as time is moving forward. But we arestill miles and miles off from the prefix "infra" ofinfra-structure. I don't see too much going on to seriouslyaddress this factor. We need more thought process and moreresult-orientation. But still, it is definitely better thanwhat is used to be.
2) Do bright young men like you really want to stay onhere, instead of leaving for cities like Bangalore orMumbai?
Answer: I have already left and am in Hyderabad. But yes,given a reasonably good option, I'd like to stay inCalcutta / West Bengal over any other place.
3) What about your colleagues (both Bengali andnon-Bengali)? Do they want to come back to Cal? if so, why?
Answer: Yes, almost all my Bengali colleagues want to comeback. Reason being, family, language, culture and otherhuman factors - people search for their root / origin, theysay.
I hardly find my non-Bengali friends / colleagues whooriginate from Calcutta and have left the city have anydesire to go back. Again, the reason lie in their roots.When in Calcutta they (non-Bengalis) were anyway uprooted,at most Calcutta was an adopted root for many. It is truethat the adopted root gets deep enough as the real root insome people. Unfortunately that didn't happen to mycolleagues and they aren't keen to go back. Maybe a realgreat transformation would encourage them to think of evegoing back the city they left.
For non-Bengalis who had never had their "present address"in Calcutta in any part of their life, they don't evencare. And it is not because of their don't-care attitude,because they do care about cities likeDelhi/Mumbai/Bangalore etc.
4) what are the advantages of staying in Calcutta? do youget the same opportunities these days in Cal as in anyother city in India?
Answer: Advantage as a Bengali - everything I mentionedabove. Advantage as a software professional today: nearlynothing. People boast of low cost of living, but when asoftware professional is getting a tax-free Rs 75000 at theend of the month, does a living-cost difference of say Rs3000-4000 really count so much? Quality is what is desiredat this level of economy. We need more options at the bestquality - keeping just one option per category and goingcrazy over it is nonsense. Entrepreneurial competitionmakes life healthy today for consumers. And economy isunconditionally based on consumerism, be it communist orcapitalist or whatever.
I'll answer the second part of the question more from mypersonal angle of view as a software engineer. Do I have anoption in Calcutta? I don't. Not even when other softwareservices biggies like Infosys etc come in. Not untilCalcutta sees growth in software product development. Ingeneral, in any sector, where can a service exist? It canexist around a product. Where is the product? Either underdevelopment (in a product-comapny) or running at the clientside / client site. In today's Indian economy (third worldeconomy for all practical purposes), do we really have toomuch of client-side sites in software with us? Not enoughto support the whole software services industry. Can wehave it? Not now. The economy is growing but not matureenough, and it will require more time to reach that pointof maturity. What remains? The product developmentcompanies. So if Calcutta needs to grow in Services sectorand people need to stay in Calcutta, then Calcutta needs togrow the product sector. Unconditionally. Else, return toCalcutta for me would mean a reaturn to a service company(in absense of product companies), and joining a servicecomapny would mean an onsite "opportunity" for me, whichwould be outside Calcutta due to the absense of bothproduct developers and product users. Then does it makesense for me to "retutn to Calcutta"? No. It adds only alabel that I am based/placed in Calcutta whereas in realityI'm out to some other place inside/outside India eitherhelping develop software products or helping the consumersof the product to use them.
So, in a nutshell, Calcutta needs product companies.Unconditionally.
5) Do you think the brain drain has stopped and that thepeople don't want to leave this city any more?
Answer: I don't think so. People still are leaving the cityand will keep doing that until they really see the sense ofstaying there (refer to point-4 please).
Again, in an era of globalization, we can never stop braindrain (brain moving out) in the conventinoal sense. We needto measure brain drain in a different way. Mathematicallyit should be the difference of (Talent crossing the borderin an outward direction from the state - Talent crossingthe border in an inward direction into the state). And weshould remain happy as long as this consistently keeps anetagive value (value less than 0) - that is what wouldmark growth in positive perception.