Millennium Post

CII eyes exchange programmes, Chinese investment in N Bengal

On the visit of the Consul General of People's Republic of China, Kolkata, to Darjeeling, exchange programmes in the avenues of tea, culture, education and tourism were discussed.

Adding more muscle to West Bengal Government's business engagement with the world's second largest economy China, the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII,) North Bengal Zone, is eyeing investors from China.

In a meeting between the CII and Ma Zhanwu, Consul General of People's Republic of China, Kolkata, in Darjeeling, exchange programmes in the avenues of tea, culture, education and tourism were discussed. "We requested the Consul General for help to DNA-map the high quality tea bushes of Darjeeling. This would be of immense significance of tracing the roots of this world famous tea," stated Rajiv Lochan, Chairman, CII, North Bengal Zonal Council.

Interestingly, the East India Company has to be credited for introducing tea commercially. The tea being the Chinese variety was smuggled out of China by Irish botanist, plant hunter and traveler Robert Fortune in the mid 1800s. However, historians claim that the prevalence of tea drinking in India existed since 750 BC.

"All these records can be straightened out if we can DNA map the tea and match them with the DNA maps of the Chinese variety. For this, the help of the Chinese government is required," stated Lochan talking to Millennium Post.

The CII has requested the Consul General for a representation of Chinese Tea scholars to take part in a World Tea Heritage Conference scheduled to be held in Darjeeling at the end of this year.

Ma Zhanwu is on an official tour of Darjeeling. "I visited schools and tea gardens in Darjeeling. There could be educational exchange programmes between this region and China. Indian visa policy is very good hence it attracts a lot of tourists from China specially in the Buddhist circuit including Bodh Gaya, Nalanda. High quality Darjeeling tea is imported from India. The import figures will definitely increase in the future," stated the Consul General.

Interestingly, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, is scheduled to visit Jiangsu and Yunan provinces of China in the month of June this year on an invitation from the Communist Party of China.

"We would like to call upon the Hon'ble Chief Minister to make a special case for North Bengal when she meets Chinese CEOs," stated Lochan.

West Bengal's engagement with China is on the rise. More than 50 Chinese companies took part in the Bengal Global Business Summit (BGBS) organised by the state government in Kolkata this year.

"The fact that as many as six business delegations have visited the state in the past one year is an illustration of the importance with which Chinese companies are looking at Bengal as a rewarding business destination," stated Laxmi Limbu Kaushal, Head, CII, North Bengal Zonal office.
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