Bengal, once a front-runner in India’s industrial movement, has been lagging behind the rapidly industrializing states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. This is primarily due to a sharp decline in the industrial index, as evident from government reports that indicate a free fall in manufacturing from 11.5% in 1980-81 to 2.9% in 2007-08.
Of late, both in private and public sector, the scenario seems to be improving slowly but steadily. There is a major thrust for job creation by the present West Bengal government as well, which promised 13 lakh job openings in its state budget for FY 2017-18. The state also plans to pump in Rs.64, 733 crore to take its social sector schemes and development agendas forward, foreseen to create income opportunities for many.
Even though there has been hardly any big-ticket investment in the last five years, the small and medium industries in the State are experiencing steady growth, documented by a three-fold increase in bank lending to the sector in last four years.
However, the most inspiring point in Kolkata’s emerging workplace ecosystem is the changing mindset of the young population. This generation is against disruptions, which is enabling a healthy work culture in the city. Harshavardhan Neotia, Chairman, Ambuja Realty says, “Young people in Bengal now want opportunities for work, to build careers. That’ll automatically force political parties to take a development-oriented approach.”
Kolkata sits on a vibrant human resource pool that has a strong supply line from premier institutes like The Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), and Jadavpur University. Fresh talents from these institutions are setting up the stage for Kolkata’s startup revolution, which is expected to open the doors to new income opportunities.
The City Joins the Startup Bandwagon
With Kolkata playing host to major startup initiatives, there’s a rise in opportunities for young job seekers. Here are some of the city’s most prominent startup ventures.
– Binod Homagai and Sagar Daryani’s Wow! Momo is already the city’s most preferred takeaway joint. The project, funded by IAN, aims to launch 60 outlets over the next two years.
– Surgerica, founded by Amit Bhagat, has raised US$ 2,00,000 from the market as funding through its innovative idea of bringing transparency to the healthcare sector in India. Users can browse the Surgerica website to find the best hospitals and doctors near them.
– Fashionove, jointly founded by Tanushree Khandelwal and Sharad Kumar, is a location-specific, hyper-local search portal that connects shoppers with independent fashion boutiques and stores.
– Healthcare startup iKure Techsoft, led by its founder Sujay Santra, aims to provide easy and affordable healthcare services to the rural people. The in-house software enables treatment in remote places, where the access to healthcare facilities are limited.
– Packr and Paaltao, founded by first-time entrepreneur Arpan Das, has a diverse line of business. While Paaltao is an online marketplace for vintage products, Packr provides on-demand logistics that deliver anything legal at any location within India.
– Alok Patnia, the founder of TaxMantra, works with small and mid-sized businesses with the goal of making tax-related services electronic and painless. The startup enterprise operating from Salt Lake City provides paperless tax solutions that’s helping more than 8000 companies manage their businesses.
Apart from those mentioned above, there are a bunch of city-based enterprises like Tyre Patty, Chai Break, and Yellow Straw breaking into Kolkata’s startup scene, which looks promising.
Kolkata’s Changing Job Landscape and Real Estate Boom
With the efforts of the current government, the city is attracting national as well as global investors. For instance, Vodafone India, on January 23, 2017, signed an MoU with the state government confirming an investment of Rs.3,000 crore to augment their capacities and business initiatives in Bengal. The telecom major has already invested more than Rs.8,400 crore in the state to strengthen its leadership position and network upgrades.
In the new global economy, where geographical barriers are fast vanishing, Kolkata offers many opportunities in terms of home-based professions and freelancing. Plus, unlike cities like Bangalore and Pune, where job seekers migrate from other parts of the country, Kolkata faces very little inbound migration. This makes the city far less competitive for the local residents. Add to it the fact that property prices are still relatively more affordable in the city and it makes Kolkata a sensible choice for young professionals and first-time home buyers.