TFT Correspondant Adrija Dasgupta spoke to Sushil Poddar, President of Confederation of West Bengal Trade Associations on the occasion of CWBTA Trade Excellence Award 2021 held at JW Marriott, Kolkata.
TFT: Please tell our readers the main theme in this Conference
SP: There are so many laudable aspects of traders which go unnoticed. There are many achievers in this sector who make valuable contribution to trade and commerce and yet remain unsung heroes. CWBTA’s main theme is to provide a forum through CWBTA Excellence Award 2021 to recognise, appreciate and reward these talented achievers, highlight their stories and encourage them to inspire others.
TFT: Can you tell us the current situation of trade and commerce industry post the Covid-19 scenario?
SP: Like any other sector, trade and commerce has been hit with a downturn due to lockdowns and restrictions in movement of transportation and goods. The size of the whole trading activity has shrunk as evident in exports and import figures given by the government, but these are now slowly coming back on track.
TFT: What is the main objective of CWBTA Trade Excellency Award?
SP: The main objective of CWBTA Trade Excellency Award is to create an umbrella event in which the representatives of trading houses, traders, industrialists, government institutions come together to recognise the good and innovative work being done in this sector and also deliberate on numerous issues pertaining to the trading sector.
TFT: After this Covid-19 situation, what do you think is future of the trade and commerce industry in India?
SP: I personally feel that India, imbibing the spirit of Atmannirbhar Bharat – will come out very strongly. Already, there are indicators of new infrastructure in rail, road and waterways being created that would expand the footprint and scope of trading in India immensely. India will ride on the rapidly evolving multi-modal transport (rail, road, waterways and air) to boost trade within the country and regionally, as well as globally.
TFT: What are your expectations with the Venue? What do you guarantee to the investors and stakeholders?
SP: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have scaled down our event this year. CWBTA is the apex body of trade in the whole of eastern region with over 1.5 million traders associated with us. The venue that we have chosen this year is complying with the restrictions that are in place. We guarantee a wide platform where 14 different categories of awards have been created to highlight the good work that is on. We guarantee a forum to reach out to over 73 associates of ours representing various aspects of trading and commerce.
TFT: From your perspective, what are the positives and negatives of being a Show Organiser?
SP: The biggest takeaway or positive factor is that we are able express ourselves as the apex body in the region and bring under one umbrella a wide variety of bodies engaged in trade and also try to articulate their grievances and demands to proper authorities and seek redress. The negative, if it can be said so, is that we have to contribute our personal time for considerable period of time, often at the cost of business, to prepare for the Show. But the dividends it reaps scores out this negativity.
TFT: How do you manage your professional and personal life? also, how do you cope with multi-tasking and stressful situations?
SP: As they say necessity is the mother of invention. We are continuously inventing news ways and means of doing trade and survive in this world of cut throat competition and challenges. So, it is in fact more of a question of either you sink or swim. Multi-tasking is in our DNA and as the situation gets tough the tough gets going.
TFT: What is your advice for a successful and sustainable event?
SP: Understanding the need of your stakeholders and fraternity; trying to create an ambiance where they can find solutions and answers. Every event should expand your network, capacity and reach.
TFT: What do you think is the Government doing for the betterment of Trade Fair Industry in India?
SP: The pandemic has been a big setback for the economy and we will have to wait to see what steps the government takes in the post-vaccination phase of Covid-19. The government has to prioritize on so many fronts – health and safety of citizens is utmost and above all else at present, the economy is next which the government is working on. One of the biggest steps would be to expand India’s export and trading footprint globally and the Trade Fairs would benefit in terms or participation, reach and generation of business.