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Hope, despite the terrain

- IT companies show willingness to set up shop in region

Shillong, Sept. 14: The Northeast’s terrain will not deter IT companies from setting up shop here as long as the infrastructure is good.

This emerged from what IT honchos, banks and government officials had to say during Meghabytes NICT 2012, organised by The Telegraph at Yojana Bhawan here today.

While IT companies expressed the desire to set up shop here, bankers said they would do everything to sanction proposals in Meghalaya despite the challenges.

The mood at the venue was upbeat as officials of the state government and representatives of IT companies spoke about the challenges facing the state and the road ahead.

Four sessions were held after the inaugural session, deliberating on Enabling the Northeast: Addressing Communication and Infrastructure Challenges, Exploring Opportunities in Meghalaya to Drive Economic Growth, Expanding the Horizons: Gearing Up the Next Generation in the Northeast and a panel discussion on Building 2020 Northeast.

The presence of a good number of college students, who had come to hear from the government and the private sector about opportunities in the booming IT sector, was encouraging.

Speaking on the need to count on technology, country manager, HP Networking, Enterprise Group, Hewlett Packard India Sales, P. Krishnamoorthy, said the mountainous terrain of the region did not deter them, as technology was an all-pervasive phenomenon. PricewaterhouseCoopers associate director Subhashish Dhar, referring to the region as the “wild east of India” underlined the need to have good content while delivering IT services to the people.

R.M. Mishra, principal secretary, Meghalaya planning department, said the state was willing to innovate and that minds here were not frozen.

“We want to grow faster than the national average and our implementation capacity has improved.”

Farooque Sahab, general manager (network two), SBI N-E Circle, said the bank would not shy away from providing loans despite several problems. “The concept should be viable and the credit history of the person taking the loan should be good.”

D.P. Singh, general manager, telecom (N-E telecom circle), BSNL, said connectivity was a problem here and steps were being taken to address the situation. “Once connectivity is established, distances will vanish.”

Paratha Sarathi Guha Patra, vice-president and head, corporate affairs, Wipro Limited, said availability of skilled manpower and infrastructure were the two main factors bothering companies.

IIM Shillong director Keya Sengupta said the government would have to provide opportunities to students to stay back here.

During the discussion, Building 2020 Northeast, stress was laid on making the people of the Northeast stakeholders in the development process and not merely beneficiaries.

The importance on conserving natural resources and sharing the benefits of industrial development with local stakeholders was also underscored.