If you are a big corporate in India, or someone remotely connected to the Indian corporate world, it is unlikely that you don’t know Amit Mitra.
The face of FICCI — India’s second largest industry association — Mitra has now decided to move on from influencing national policy to making them.
Having been elected to the West Bengal state legislature, the smooth talking and ever-diplomatic Mitra has resigned his job at FICCI and packed his bags for Kolkata. It is expected that Mitra, who has an uncanny understanding of industry and how policy affects industry, will join the state cabinet.
“Mitra leaves behind a solid basis for FICCI to make another qualitative shift to the next level in influencing policy and to contributing to India’s engagement with the rest of the world,” said FICCI in a statement.
The organization had, soon after Mamata won, made a similar statement lauding the victory and hoping that the new government will raise Bengal back to the forefront of India’s industrial development. Most possibly, that is what Mitra’s mission is going to be in Kolkata, according to insiders.
“Mamata wants to use his connections to bring in big bucks investments from the top corporates in India,” points out a FICCI official.
If his success at FICCI is anything to go by, Mitra is all set to rock Bengal.
According to the numbers provided by the organization, Mitra was almost singlehandedly responsible for raising the revenues of FICCI from just Rs 3 crore to Rs 110 crore in 15 years.
“FICCI’s reputation and credibility as the voice of the Indian industry was restored to its pristine levels well before he decided to take the political plunge earlier this year,” the organization noted.
Mitra’s likely appointment to the government is part of Mamata Bannerjee’s grand and slightly risk plan to bring in total outsiders into the government and use their technical expertise to give a radically different governing experience to Bengal.
Mamata wants Bengal to lose its image as an industry-unfriendly, laid back place that is known primarily for its anti-industry agitations than enlightened policy-making — partly due to Mamata’s own agitation against the Tata plant in Singur.
Bengal used to be the most industrialized and advanced state in India at the time of independence, but rapidly lost ground due to the ascendancy of a Communist government.
Ironically, as the Communists moved from the left to the centre, their erstwhile position was successfully usurped by Mamata. Most, however, expect her to leave her extreme-left ideology in the months ahead.