The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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IT comes calling to Buddha’s Bengal
- Nasscom to set up office in Calcutta, mega show to open today

Calcutta, Nov. 30: Nasscom is set to open its eastern regional office in the city as part of its strategy to promote the IT industry and IT enabled services (ITES) industry in the region.

“We feel there is good potential for both IT and ITES in the east,” said Nasscom president Kiran Karnik. “The state governments in the region are doing their bit and we want to complement their effort. The Calcutta office, which will be in place within the next few months, will be used to promote the IT industry of the eastern region.” The Delhi-headquartered apex body of software and services companies has regional offices in Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Talking to The Telegraph a day before the start of Infocom 2002, one of the “biggest” IT shows in the region, Karnik said the four-day event will “focus” on the growth of the IT industry and how IT can be used for “long-term value creation”.

“It will also aim towards outlining the role of the state governments in the knowledge era,” he added.

Union communications minister Pramod Mahajan will inaugurate the Nasscom-Businessworld event.

Eminent speakers — both from within and outside the IT industry — will share their views on a whole range of issues from hardcore technology to ways of effecting change. The list includes ITC’s Y.C. Deveshwar, R. Gopalakrishnan of Tata Sons, James Duckworth of Unilever, Pramath Sinha of McKinsey and Pradeep Pal of Sun Microsystems.

Along with over 600 delegates from top-notch IT companies, the conference will be attended by government representatives from Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa and all the Northeast states. The chief ministers of Bengal, Manipur, Meghalaya and Assam have confirmed their participation at the chief ministers’ round-table — one of the most important sessions of the meet — scheduled for Monday afternoon.

The programme will also focus on transparency and efficiency in administration. “We are in the midst of a survey on e-governance performance of various state governments. We will publish the detailed report towards the end of this month. But at the chief ministers’ conclave, we will throw up some issues, which the governments need to address for effective citizen-government interface,” Karnik said.

According to the Nasscom chief, Bengal has made a “nice” beginning by positioning itself as an IT hub, while abundance of talent, availability of power and advantage in cost have given the state an edge over competitors. But, he added, the target of netting 15 per cent of the country’s IT revenues — announced by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee — by 2010 will not be “easy”, as other states were also gearing up to raise their share of the IT pie.

“Negative perception is one of the major problems facing the state and the government must fight to change it and make people convinced that at the ground level things are not bad to reach closer to its goal,” Karnik said.

Karnik felt people at the helm should be more proactive. “If Chandrababu Naidu and S.M. Krishna are out there to bring investments, the Bengal government must also be led by the chief minister. The government has to be aggressive and go beyond announcing attractive policies to lure in investments,” he said.

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