Economy of West Bengal
Constituting various sectors which significantly adds to the revenue of the state, economy of West Bengal is one of the rapidly growing economies in India. Agriculture and service dominates the sectors despite having other sectors which contribute significantly to the commercial zones that makes up the prosperity of West Bengal economy. A prominent part of the state namely the northern states of Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Malda, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur are economically poor. However, since 1980’s, the state has witnessed a surplus of grains. Rice has been the principal food crop of the state with Potato, jute, sugar cane and wheat leading the list of crops. The Northern districts of the state, especially districts like Darjeeling are well known for tea production. With Kolkata rich in steel industries, Durgapur – Asansol region is famous for steel plants. Thus, despite the dominance of agriculture, a wide array of commercial sectors forms the base of West Bengal economy.
The chief occupation of the people of West Bengal, agriculture contributes around 18.7% of the gross domestic state product (GSDP) in 2009-10. The state’s majority thrives on agricultural labours and cultivators. The principal food crop of West Bengal is rice and the state is the largest producer of rice in India. West Bengal is blessed with fertile lands and up-to-date irrigation facilities, superior quality seeds and farming techniques. The state government has brought about plenty of reforms to expand the farming opportunities and stresses the need to develop the existing crop areas.
The information technology sector in West Bengal is gaining prominence, thanks to the rich intellectual resource and the talent pool of the state. Its capital city, Kolkata is becoming a major IT hub with the formation of Electronic Complex, which represents the huge advancement in information technology. The complex houses some of the biggest names in the It sector namely, Wipro, TCS, IBM and NIIT and is the pride of Kolkata. The IT industry in the state provides high end solutions not only to the state, but also to the foreign organisations.
The industries in West Bengal are centered on Kolkata and the region of Haldia port. West Bengal is known for its leading industries, which is one of the strong bases on which the foundation of the state is build. You can witness up to 10,000 registered factories in the state and the state government has initiated Shilpa Bandhu, an agency to facilitate the investors in establishing and running industrial units. Kolkata is a major centre for jute industries and Durgapur is a major centre for an alloy plant for alloy steel plant. Natural resources like jute and tea have also made West Bengal a major industrial area.
West Bengal is one of the blessed states in terms of natural resources and mineral wealth. The state has taken plenty on initiatives for developing the minerals and mining based industries in the state. They are also taking serious efforts to incorporate the participation of bigger players for the steady growth of the industry. Some of the minerals found in West Bengal are Apalite, Asbestos, Barytes, Base metals, China Clay, Ochre, Moulding Sand, Glass Sand, Graphite, Mica, Titanium Ore and so on.
Being one of the leading exporters of the country, West Bengal is one of the leading exporters of finished leather goods. The year 2009-10 saw the state accounts for about 13.5% and accounted for 70& of the country’s dried flower exports in 2008-09. West Bengal is also the leading exporter of tea and shrimps. As per the NASSCOM-Gartner, the power infrastructure of West Bengal is the best in the country.
Fisheries are one of the profitable economic sectors in West Bengal. The wet regions of Eastern Kolkata are one of the major zones where fishing activities are carried out successfully. Known as bheris, these fishing zones are generally used for polyculture and waste water fisheries. The state has 264 fish farms with the state government taking all the possible steps including various developmental schemes to improve the condition of fishermen. As per statistical records, the prominent share of fish production comes from West Bengal.
Transport facilities in West Bengal have much developed, contributing significantly to the state’s economy. The various districts of West Bengal have excellent connectivity through rail with the total railway network is 3,825 km. Kolkata holds an important position in Indian railways as it is the headquarters of Eastern railway and south eastern railway. Kolkata metro rail is another important means of transport within the city as it is the first underground railway in India. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (NFR), which UNESCO, which is a declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO connects the hill station to other areas of the state. West Bengal also has a wide network of roads which covers the total length of 92,023 km. To facilitate the transportation, there are state Highways (2,393 km) and National Highways (2, 377 km) which facilitates easy accessibility to neighbouring states such as Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand and neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Waterways are another prominent transportation facility in West Bengal, which contributes significantly to the economy of the state. The Kolkata Port Trust supervises Kolkata docks and Haldia docks.