Public Session of the Bengal Chamber AGM commemorating the 160th year of The Bengal Chamber and the 180th year since its inception – Chief Guest: Shri Pranab Mukherjee, President of India, 14th September 2013, Chamber premises
For the very first time in the 180 year long history of The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which commenced its operations with the signing of a charter by 25 merchants of Calcutta on 19th December 1833, we had the President of India honouring the Chamber as its Chief Guest at the public session of its Annual General Meeting to commemorate its 160th year of its present avatar, The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on Saturday, 14th September, 2013. This was a historic moment for the Chamber and for Commerce and Industry of West Bengal. The Governor, Shri M.K. Narayanan was also in attendance.
Shri Pranab Mukherjee spoke from his heart and observed that although he did not, as a matter of practice, address Chambers of Commerce on the occasion of their AGMs, he had made an exception because of his love and nostalgia for the city and the Bengal Chamber, the oldest such institution in India. In fact, Shri Mukherjee had addressed the Chamber on a number of occasions in the recent past when he was the Minister of External Affairs and the Finance Minister of India. Shri Mukherjee said that the Chamber had provided yeoman’s service to the nation for 180 years and wished it continued to do so for the next 180 years. Shri Pranab Mukherjee also unveiled a plaque commemorating the 160th year of the Chamber.
While noting that the President of India is not a policymaker, Shri Mukherjee nevertheless shared some of his observations about the Indian economy. He spoke about the upward movement of the GDP (in 2009-10 and 2010-11) immediately after the recession and the downward trend in recent times. It was evident from the President’s speech that it would not be correct to blame past domestic policy initiatives influencing the current downward trend in GDP.
The President also observed that although there were areas of concern, there was no room for gloom and despondency. There was sign of recovery in North America and Japan. He described the rapid depreciation in the rupee, fiscal and current account deficit and inflation as beyond the normal prudence, but expected the good monsoon to have a positive impact on the economy.
Earlier as part of the proceedings, the Bengal Chamber also launched its modernized logo, which was displayed on the backdrop. The Chamber would henceforth be called BCC&I to enable it to expand its footprint to the national arena to be able to contribute more efficiently to the economic activities of the nation while retaining its focus and roots in the State of West Bengal.