As I get ready to relinquish the office of the President
and usher in my successor, I look back to the period
gone by with a sense of satisfaction at the tasks
accomplished during my tenure.
Throughout the year, issues relating to areas of
contemporary relevance such as Infrastructure,
Budget, India's Security, Land Reforms, Telecommunications, Housing etc. were fruitfully
discussed. The international business relations have always been an important focus of the
Chamber, a trend which has been further reinforced during the year. The Chamber organized
business meetings with the consulates and embassies of China, Italy, Hongkong and Malaysia. We
were also privileged to receive delegation from Bangladesh. Calcutta Chamber of Commerce and
India Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka have reached a protocol mutual
cooperation to promote bilateral trade and economic relations between the two countries. This is a
matter of pride for us.
The year 2008 started out well enough with growth figures approaching 10%, but the momentum
was lost as the months passed, as India faced the ripple effects of the gloom in the global economy.
The Sensex was ruling at an all-time high of 21,206.77 points. But as the year is drawing to a close, it
is languishing at around the 9,000- point mark - a fall of over 50 percent in the year. Exports fell in
October for the first time in seven years. Industrial production, which was among the main drivers of
the economy, fell 0.4 percent. The rupee fell below 50 to a dollar in November to an all-time low. And,
as per the government's own admission, some 65,000 jobs were lost between August and October.
The high cost of crude oil, which jumped from under $40 per barrel a year ago to nearly $150 per
barrel in August, added to the country's woes in terms of higher import bill. The only solace was on
the price front, where the annual rate of inflation fell from 12.63 percent in early August to 6.84
percent in early December 2008.
Hon'ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh warned that the global financial crisis may be worse
and longer than many had expected, but that the government would take the necessary monetary
and fiscal action to protect growth in India. But the much awaited economic stimulus package
unveiled by the government to help industries to come out of the adverse effects of current
meltdown is not adequate. Economists and industry bodies believe that India will grow and a sharp
recovery is possible because the fundamentals of our economy continue to be strong. We expect
more fiscal and monetary measures to give a momentum to growth. The government should
increase expenditure in infrastructure sector and put ongoing projects on the fast track.
Before I conclude, I take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to Sr. Vice President, Vice
President, Chairmen, Standing Committees, my colleagues in the Committee and all members of
the Chamber for the invaluable support in all our activities. I would also like to convey my gratitude
for the goodwill and affection extended to me by all of you which made it possible for me to match up
to the aspirations and trust reposed in me for the conduct of activities of the Chamber. I must also
express my gratitude and thanks to the media for their co-operation throughout the year. Finally, I
would be failing in my duty if I do not acknowledge the tremendous support received by me from the
I wish all of you and your families a very Happy and Prosperous 2009.
H. V. Patodia