Wednesday, November 21, 2012

City of London and CityUK

City of London is one square mile of central London where the financial institutions are located. We met Paul Sizeland, Director (Economic) of the City of London yesterday.
City UK is a not-for-profit organisation working in partnership with City of London. We met Wayne Evans, Director (International Strategy) at Guildhall yesterday.
We learnt many things: (1) That we had to concentrate on highlighting why Kolkata should be considered (we talked of the mathematics and IT knowing skills of Bengal youth, the lower cost of manpower) (2) That it offered lowered taxes / real estate cost than, say Singapore (iii) That even Mumbai was 63rd on the International Financial Centre list - among the top being London, Singapore, New York, Dubai, Shanghai etc - we were give a list of the 2012 rankings (iii) That CityUK has an MoU with Moscow and their first report is already out and a copy was given to us.
We said that the possibility of an MoU with Kolkata was also a possibility.
Here is a photo:
Me, Paul Sizeland, Firhad Hakim and Wayne Evans
 at Guildhall, City of London on 20th Nov
Connecting with George Nicholson of Thames River Regeneration was a great experience. George had initiated KMDA to Millennium Park based on Thames Renewal Mission - in 2001 or so. He took us around for a walk by the River Thames. We learnt many things that can be done after land consolidation and sensitive planning. Here is a picture:
A Walk by the River Thames (South Bank) on 20 Nov
R to L: Me, Minister, George, John Nutt
We also sat in the House of Lords and House of Commons for some time. Minister spoke to Lord Popat of Harrow on our visit at the British Parliament yesterday.Minister Mathew Hancock from UK, we learnt, would lead a delegation to Kolkata early next year.
* * *
Today meeting Clive Dutton Executive Director of Dockside was a revelation: how they were 'Making a new City in a Capital City' (their caption in a presentation at site) was very parallel to New Town.

In the evening, we met Hiro Aso, Director of John McAlsan who is renovating an old railway station, King's Cross,keeping heritage Victorian structures intact, was simply amazing. The busiest station of London now looks like a modern Airport.


  1. London is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and is truly mesmerizing.:-) Thats the reason it attracts such large number of tourists every year.

    A glimpse of the surviving colonial structures of Kolkata can be found here. You can feel the contrast with London as one can clearly see that most of them are not maintained properly. If maintained, these can be definitely a boost to the tourism industry of Bengal.

    Some thoughts:

    (a) Is availability of maths & IT talent enough to attract investments in a greenfield financial hub? Dont we need to bring some more compelling USP , some hugely innovative tax rebates for these companies?

    (b) IIM-C whose finance course is one of the best in Asia can also be highlighted, I feel.

    (c)Can we plan some fantastic canal side experience in New Town? We have 2 wide canals --Bagjola and Kestopur passing through / by New Town and we can dredge and clean them up adding some boating experience. Also we can widen and beautify the roads along both the canals with jogging tracks, cycling tracks, broad sidewalks and restaurants , pubs and cafes.

    (d) Dockside rejuvenation was a huge challenge as it was not a greenfield venture. :-)

  2. If we are really serious about urban job generation, then we can learn a lot from how London is trying to build a high tech software R & D hub from scratch. We can try a similar model in New Town.
    This will be apart from the finance dependent IT jobs that will flock later to New Town.

    Some relevant links:!/home

    Dream to make a silicon valley ( California) from scratch in a city which was known for trading, tourism and finance seems to going great.

    1. Sir,

      For quite a few days we have not got any news related to the projects that DSDA was executing other than the news related to the ropeway in Amarabati park.

      Same applies to the LRT project in New Town.