The richest man in Kolkata

Sanjiv Goenka

Sanjiv Goenka

Kolkata is “the city that got left behind”, according to The Economist, which asks: “Can India’s original powerhouse get its act together again?” It blames the Marxists who ruled the state of West Bengal – whose capital is Kolkata – for more than three decades.  And it wonders if a “populist with a rural base” like the new chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, can turn around the economy.

Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is not as rich as Mumbai  or Delhi or Bangalore by some measures. None of the 57 Indian billionaires on the Forbes 2011 list is based in Kolkata. The richest man in Kolkata is Sanjiv Goenka, with an estimated net worth of $725 million, according to Forbes. He heads a  $1.8 billion (in revenues) empire, the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, whose flagship is CESC, a power utility that has been providing electricity to Kolkata since 1899.

However, Kolkata was the third biggest business centre in India, after Mumbai and Delhi, and had a GDP of  $150 billion based on purchasing power parity in 2009, according to a Pricewaterhouse Coopers study.

Nevertheless, The Economist is right when it says:

No one disputes that West Bengal has suffered deindustrialisation on a par with the likes of Detroit. According to the central bank, the state accounted for a quarter of India’s industrial capital stock in 1950. By 1960 it contributed 13% of manufacturing output and by 2000 just 7%…

Calcutta’s population fell slightly over the past decade, no mean achievement in a rapidly urbanising country. Only one big non-state firm is based there, after an exodus that began in the 1960s. Most pitifully of all, West Bengal has received less than 2% of the foreign direct investment that poured into India over the past decade.

However, Kolkata was the third biggest business centre in India, after Mumbai and Delhi, and had a GDP of  $150 billion based on purchasing power parity in 2009, according to a Pricewaterhouse Coopers study. Mumbai had a GDP of $209 billion.

West Bengal  still has the sixth highest GDP (about $96.5 billion) among the Indian states, going by estimated figures for last year. Maharashtra – of which Mumbai is the capital — has the highest GDP ($224.1 billion) followed by Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. Karnataka, the state where Bangalore is located, is seventh, according to Wikipedia.

Kolkata (formerly Calcutta)
Area185 square kilometres (71 sq mi)
Population4,486,679
Density24,252.3  per sq km

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