Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 12 January 2020 rechristened Kolkata Port Trust after Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee. PM said, while addressing the 150th anniversary programme of Kolkata Port Trust, invoked Mookerjee and BR Ambedkar and said their contributions had led to the development of the country post Independence, but suggestions made by them were not implemented after they resigned from the government.
  1. PM, who released a commemorative stamp on the occasion, said his government at the Centre was making every possible effort to develop Bengal, its poor, underprivileged and exploited sections.
  2. He also inaugurated and laid foundation of infrastructure projects for the expansion and modernisation of the Kolkata Port.
  3. Development of waterways has improved Kolkata Port Trust's connectivity with industrial centres in east India, made trade easier for our neighbouring countries, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal.
  4. Our country's coasts are gateways to development, the (central) government has started the Sagarmala programme to improve connectivity.
  5. It is the oldest operating port in India and was constructed by the British East India Company. Kolkata is a freshwater port with no variation in salinity.
  6. In the 19th century, the Kolkata Port was the premier port in British India. After slavery was abolished in 1833, there was a high demand for laborers on sugar cane plantations in the British Empire. 
  7. From 1838 to 1917, the British used this port to ship off over half a million Indians from all over India — mostly from the Hindi Belt (especially Bhojpur and Awadh) — and take them to places across the world, such as Mauritius, Fiji, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname and other Caribbean islands as indentured laborers. 
  8. There are millions of Indo-Mauritians, Indo-Fijians, and Indo-Caribbean people in the world today. After independence, the port's importance decreased because of factors including the Partition of Bengal (1947), reduction in size of the port hinterland, and economic stagnation in eastern India.