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Since 1st March, 1999
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Infocom harnesses big guns
- Five-day infotech spectacle to kick off on December 1

Calcutta, Aug. 27: Openers Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries and Nandan Nilekani of Infosys, followed by Subir Raha of ONGC, K.V. Kamath of ICICI, Suresh Vaswani of Wipro Infotech — and Sourav Ganguly as brand ambassador.

The dream team for Bengal’s business will boast an impressive line-up this winter.

Come December 1, the team will pad up in Calcutta as part of Infocom 2004, presented by Nasscom and Businessworld, an ABP Ltd publication.

The theme of the five-day conference-cum-exhibition will be Harnessing ICT (information, communication and technology) for Global Competitiveness. The Union minister for information technology and communications, Dayanidhi Maran, will inaugurate the meet and Ambani and Nilekani will be the opening speakers in the theme session.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will play a key role in at least two sessions — the CMs’ roundtable on Day I and the CMs' interactive on Day II.

“This will be the third Infocom. The show has already become one of the most important events in the calendar of events in the country. Now, we want it to get the status of a major international show,” said Kiran Karnik, president, Nasscom, while rolling out the schedule for Infocom 2004 today.

The “partial list of confirmed speakers” announced today includes Mani Shankar Aiyar, the Union minister of petroleum and natural gas; Bimal Jalan, a former RBI governor and Rajya Sabha MP; Jerry Rao, chairman, Nasscom; Debu Bhattacharya, managing director, Hindalco; Robert G. Eccles, senior fellow, PricewaterhouseCoopers; Keith Budge, managing director (South Asia Pacific), Oracle; and Raman Roy, president and CEO, Wipro Spectramind.

“Lots of things have happened in Calcutta during the past few years and we think Infocom has played the role of one of the catalysts in triggering the IT movement here. Having Calcutta firmly on the radar of investors, we now want to move to the next stage and make it a major centre and an IT hub in the region,” said Karnik.

Infocom’s earlier sessions saw wide representation from the states in the Northeast and east.

G.D. Gautama, principal secretary, IT, iterated how the previous two Infocom shows — aimed at increasing awareness on IT, exposing users to cutting-edge technology and giving them a platform for networking and policy discussions — had played a critical role in helping the growth of the IT industry in Calcutta. The government, he said, would try its best to utilise the platform to sell the state’s investment potential during the meet.

“Such events give us the opportunity to showcase our strengths. Through these meets and our roadshows, we have been able to connect with potential investors and tell them to come and check out the value proposition of doing business in Bengal. People have come here and seen for themselves that all the IT companies here are growing,” said Gautama, adding that Sourav Ganguly (the state’s IT brand ambassador) has said there “is no cricket at that time” and so he would like to attend Infocom 2004.

Aniruddha Lahiri, managing director, ABP Ltd, highlighted how the state has witnessed a remarkable growth in “wealth in wallets”. He listed bullish numbers, ranging from recent growth rates in eating out (548 per cent) to cell-phone connections (536 per cent), air-conditioner sales (338 per cent) to PC sales (493 per cent) to stress his point.

“In the last three to four years, about 185 software and back-office firms, employing over 20,000 people, have set up shop in Salt Lake. The hub is bristling with big names, exports have zoomed and success stories abound. We want this to continue and play a role in the process,” Lahiri said.

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