The Chamber

 
Our Legacy

The Chamber turned into the financial universe of the East from the mid 19th century - not merely as a forum for networking, but as a powerful enabler lobbying for the development of the economy and infrastructure. It became the first port of call on matters of Federal and State Government policies and legislation.

The legislations that the Chamber reviewed and commented upon before their passage through the Parliament and Assembly are too numerous to be commented upon separately. Just to mention a few, the Chamber was associated with the framing of the Customs Act; played a major role in the framing of tariff policy and shipping laws; helped draft the first Life Assurance Legislation (1910) and played a critical role in framing the country's first Income Tax legislation. These apart, the Chamber has also suggested modifications in the Indian Companies Act and the Indian Insurance Act and examined and suggested changes in the first Indian Electricity Bill (1902). The Bengal Chamber was involved in the conceptualization of the airport at Dum Dum and the Howrah Bridge and had lobbied for the creation of overland trade routes with China through Tibet. These are only a few of the quintessential feathers that adorn the Chamber's cap.

The Bengal Chamber has helped in the formation of a slew of educational and cultural institutions - Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management (IISWBM), Nazrul Manch and the Academy of Fine Arts apart from bringing to Kolkata the son-et-lumiere at the Victoria Memorial.

For Society

The Chamber has always recognized the fact that in the new environment of society, industry and business, the need for Corporates to internalize and demonstrate their responsibilities to the society in which they operate is no longer a matter of debate. From being the chief relief distributor during the Great Bengal Famine of 1943 to adopting a Rural Development Programme in a cluster of twenty villages near Kolkata from 1977 to 1985 to initiating a movement on Corporate Citizenship and Social Responsibility and taking up relief work for Cyclone Aila affected villages in Sunderbans, the Chamber has taken CSR as one of the guiding principles for business operations.

A Plethora of Activities

Today, the Chamber has over 300 members from industry, trade and commerce. The Chamber's interest and operations range from organizing mega seminars and relevant events on the 'brick' industry to the new-age 'click' organizations. From financial services, insurance, banking and taxation to focusing on the environment and energy sectors, the Chamber's range of operations is diverse and evolving over time. The Chamber today is deeply involved in areas like Healthcare, Education, Energy and Environment, Information Technology, Finance and Banking, Corporate Governance, MSME Development, Manufacturing - to name a few and has now assumed a multi-faceted role.

The Chamber is also firm in its commitment to catalyze growth all over West Bengal and therefore, is continuing with its initiatives in Taratolla, Durgapur and North Bengal. While the focus in Taratolla is infrastructure development and also developing the area as a manufacturing hub, the endeavour in Durgapur is to facilitate green development, clean technology and discuss environmental aspects of industrial production apart from focusing on Industrial Relations for harmonious growth, education and career issues and lifestyle aspects. In North Bengal the focus has been on tourism and farming issues.

Much is happening in the East today, but much still remains to be done. The doors to the world are now open. In this new environment, West Bengal can find its destiny and become the gateway to the East. The Bengal Chamber shares this truth with the people of West Bengal and the region.

The Chamber Today

Today, the Chamber's range of operations is diverse and evolving over time. The Chamber is deeply involved in areas like Healthcare, Education, Energy and Environment, Information Technology, Finance and Banking, Corporate Governance, MSME Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure, Tourism - to name a few and has now assumed a multi-faceted role. Our tie-up with the European Business and Technology Centre (EBTC) on promoting clean technology access deserves special mention. Our linkages with overseas Governments, Businesses and Institutions are growing stronger by the day and we have created very relevant B2B platforms for both inward and outward investments by hosting delegations and taking regular business missions spanning continents. We have over 30 sector/area specific Committees catalyzing business growth, industrial development and socio-economic progress. The Chamber's AGM2013 was graced by Shri Pranab Mukherjee, President of India which was an unprecedented occasion, in the words of the President of India, for Chambers of Commerce in general.