Dr. Ambuj Mahanti

Dr. Ambuj Mahanti holds three Masters degrees- Statistics (Calcutta University), Computer Science (ISI Calcutta) and Operations Research (Operations Research Society of India0 and Doctor of Science (D.Sc.. from Calcutta University. He served IIM Calcutta for 36 years where he occupied a number of academic positions including Dean (Planning and Administration) before retiring in 2017. He ws an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Maryland, College Park USA (1990-1992). He was UNDP Fellow for first time at UCLA and for second time at University of Maryland. He has authored or co-authored over 100 research papers including many at the best known journals in Computer Science and has guided twelve doctoral students at IIM Calcutta. He has directed a number of top management programmes for industry with sponsorship from companies as well as under IIM Calcutta. He is credited with pioneering the launch of the new post graduate programme in computer aided management for first time in the country. He joined his political career by joining Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014. He has served as official Spokesperson of West Bengal State BJP and currently is a Member of WB BJP State Committee.

Thoughts on Revitalization of West Bengal by a few former employees of Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata

by

AmbujMohanti
Subir Bandyopadhyay
Abhijit Sengupta
Anupam Guha Thakurta
Arunabha Sen

It’s well documented that West Bengal is losing out on economic, social and cultural fronts in comparison with other states of India for many years. Unless the trend is reversed, next generation of youth in West Bengal will be facing an even bleaker future. In this short proposal, we lay out three topics where governmental and non-governmental agencies can cooperatively focus their attention for the economic revitalization of West Bengal.

Topic 1: Information Technology (IT) Development with Focus on Healthcare Sector

Economic development of India in the last thirty years has been driven primarily by gains by the Indian IT sector. Services of Indian IT companies are sought after all across the world today. Indian cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai have become major hubs of software development activity. Although some of the Indian IT companies have software development facilities in Rajarhat, Kolkata, efforts in these facilities are minor in comparison with efforts of these companies in their facilities in other cities in India. Moreover, software development activities undertaken by these companies leverage existing technology and often timesdo not involve innovation of any new technology. However, there is no reason software development activities in India have to be one step behind technology development in the western countries. A case in point is Israel. Highly innovative and cutting edge technology is being developed in Israel these days, which is being is used by large and small companies in the west. In order to be able to develophighly innovative and cutting edge technology, one needs to have high quality human resources. In Israel, academic institutions, such as Technion, Tel-Aviv University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem are churning out highly trained Computer Science and Engineering graduates withentrepreneurial inclination, who in turn is starting new ventures and pushing the boundaries of IT with their innovative approaches to old and new problems. Given that West Bengal has at least three world class institutions, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata and Indian Institute of Management, Joka, and they are producing highly trained human resources on a regular basis, there is no reason to believe that the innovation scene in Israel cannot be replicated in West Bengal. IT is very broad and we believe that there is tremendous room for innovation in IT in the Healthcare sector. For this reason, we propose this sector as one of the thrust areas in the economic revitalization effort of West Bengal.

Topic 2: Healthcare Service Sector

Healthcare service sector will never runout of demand, at least in the foreseeable future, as people will continue to get sick and demand healthcare services. An event like the current Covid-19 pandemic emphasizes this point even more. Although in the last twenty years, some highquality medical facilities, such as Apollo Gleneagles, AMRI, Columbia Asia started operation in Kolkata, due to the for-profit nature of their business model, arguably these facilities are beyond the reach of 99% of the residents on West Bengal. Moreover, even today, West Bengal residents with sufficient resources travel to Vellore, Bengaluru and Mumbai for medical services. This happens because these locations are known to be able to provide high quality health services at affordable prices. There is no reason to believe that healthcare services cannot be excellent and accessible at the same time. The Mayo Clinic in USA is a prime example of a medical service facility that is both excellent and accessible at the same time. The Mayo Clinic which is more than one hundred years old, is one of the best medical facilities in the world (if not the best medical facility). At the Mayo Clinic, excellence isn’t achieved by restricting accessibility, in fact accessibility is fairly easy to all its facilities in various parts of USA and the world. The Mayo Clinic is run as a non-profit organization where the physicians are paid a fixed salary, which is not linked to patient volume or income for fee-for-service payments. This practice is thought to decrease the monetary motivation to see patients in excessive numbers and increase the incentive to spend more time with individuals.

Aside from the Mayo Clinic, another exemplary organization is the Texas Medical Center, which is a 5.4 square kilometer medical district and neighborhood in south-central Houston. Over sixty medical institutions are members of the Texas Medical Center Corporation—a non-profit umbrella organization—which constitutes the largest medical complex in the world. We believe that through governmental and non-governmental agency cooperation efforts should be made to build up such a medical complex in West Bengal. With the opening of All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in Kalyani in September 2019, we believe it providesa tremendous opportunity to start building up a large medical complex along the lines of the Texas Medical Center, with AIIMS as the heart of this medical complex.

Topic 3: Promotion of tourism in easternIndia, with Kolkata being the gateway of tourist traffic

We believe that eastern India has a lot to offer to tourists from other parts of India as well as abroad. We also feel that this potential isn’t properly exploited as the tourist facilities in these places are underdeveloped. Aside from Kolkata itself being a tourist destination, there are many places of tourist interest in eastern India, such as Darjeeling, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Konarak temples in Orissa, Bodhgaya in Bihar etc. Kolkata can serve as the gateway to all these tourist destinations. Although both domestic and international tourists are already traveling to thetheseplaces, we believe that with appropriate tourist facility development and tourist information promotion, the tourist traffic volume can be significantly enhanced. It’s well known that various islands in Thailand draw millions of tourists from all over the world to Thailand, for which Bangkok serves as the gateway. Similarly, Bali in Indonesia draws millions of visitors from Australia, Europe and America. There doesn’t seem to any reason to believe that with appropriate tourist facility development and tourist information promotion, why Andaman and Nicobar Islands cannot be a competitor to the islands in Thailand or Indonesia.

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