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Shourie pats ‘partner’ Buddha

Calcutta, July 11: When Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee met Union minister for telecom and information technology Arun Shourie in public this evening, it was time to shower praise on each other and promise partnerships .

“We want to be partners in your effort towards scripting a success story in Bengal and taking it to other parts of the country,” Shourie said at the inaugural ceremony of Cognizant Technology Solutions’ new complex in Salt Lake.

Reassuring the state government of all support from the Centre, the Union minister added that he would talk with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) officials to work out ways of improving connectivity in the state and giving the IT industry a much-needed fillip.

Within minutes, the chief minister thanked the Union minister for giving the green signal to two software technology park projects in Haldia and Siliguri. “We had requested him for these parks and he gave his consent, besides promising support to a host of other projects like IT education in schools, digitisation of archives, developing Braille technology and introduction of tele-medicine,” he said.

Bhattacharjee’s Left government had hardly any reason to complain against the Union minister as Shourie spent much of his talk-time today complimenting the Bengal government’s initiatives in creating an enabling infrastructure for IT industry.

From opening the doors to foreign investment to improvement in work culture and creating a good education system to progress made in the power sector, the minister started his day by listing the state’s achievements at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) meet in the morning.

“The grassroot network created by the government over the past 30 years will help the state in developing (an) e-governance framework in a fruitful manner. This state will emerge as the leader in both IT and IT-enabled services industry,” said Shourie.

Escorted by state infotech minister Manab Mukherjee, Shourie went on a 20-minute conducted tour of Salt Lake Electronics Complex (Saltlec) later in the day. Describing the success in Saltlec as an “example” of public-private partnership, Shourie said: “The future of the state will be very different.”

The chief minister gave an account of his plans for a “different” and “resurgent” Bengal with the state vowing to be among the top three IT states in the country by 2010 and garnering over 15 per cent of India’s revenue from the IT industry. “We are trying our best to change the image,” asserted the chief minister, who had been to Mumbai and Milan in Italy in the past 40 days, scouting for investment.

And it seems things are changing. “The state’s image is changing on its own,” Shourie said after his 40-minute meeting with the chief minister at Writers’ Buildings.

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