Guwahati, Oct. 4: Dispur today used NICT 2012, the annual two-day Northeast Information & Communication Technology Exposition, to remind IT majors of their commitment to invest in the state.
The reminder, a mix of criticism and exhortation, was delivered by education and health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at the inaugural function of the eighth edition of the B2B platform here this afternoon. The NICT brings together IT & business leaders, policy makers, academicians and IT enthusiasts of the region with the aim of projecting the potential of the Northeast to investors.
“It is time for the IT industry to keep its commitment made during NICT 2005 to invest in the state. Things have changed in the interim. Guwahati today has the potential and environment to become an IT hub. Investors should not stay away citing law and order, which is an issue everywhere. It’s unpredictable but militants have not been able to stop development anywhere,” Sarma said.
Turning the law and order argument on its head while making a strong pitch for investment, Sarma further said, “Law and order issues are cited when companies have to set up permanent shop in the state. But that is not the case when we float tenders for education or police modernisation projects. These same companies, which have issues with law and order, will flock to Guwahati if we float a tender tomorrow. They will not mind extending their stay to get their work done! I strongly feel that IT players should go only to areas where there are law and order issues,” Sarma, the guest of honour, said tongue-in-cheek, leaving the gathering in splits.
Organised under the banner of The Telegraph, NICT 2012 has been extensively supported by the state IT department and Assam Electronics Development Corporation Limited (AMTRON).
Agriculture and parliamentary affairs minister Nilamani Sen Deka was the other guest of honour at the inaugural function, which was also graced by IT principal secretary Rajiv Kumar Bora. Both of them used the platform to articulate the government’s IT initiatives for the benefit of the last man in the line.
Deka, while announcing Dispur’s decision to spend more than Rs 200 crore during the rabi crop season to tide over the damage caused by recurring floods this year, spelt out how his department was using the IT to bridge the gap between farmers and the administration.
“We have decided to equip our officers with laptops/tablets to connect field officers with district headquarters and provide farmers with timely and real time information on cropping and post-cropping measures as we are basically an agrarian state. We are using IT to extend departmental aids and grants to farmers. I hope the NICT will carry a message to the farmers as well as state government employees about the importance of communication technology in this age,” Deka said.
The stress on promoting IT was also at the core of Bora’s speech. He said the government had recognised the role of IT as an “enabler”, keeping in with the theme of the event — Enabling the Northeast.
“We are using IT to improve our public service delivery, address public grievances and have less-paper offices. By the year-end, we will include all districts under e-governance and also have 40 services to boost our public service delivery system. All this is aimed at making Assam the IT gateway to Southeast Asia because of our advantage of location, manpower and physical infrastructure. This is the right time to come and invest in Assam which has taken impressive strides to boost efficiency and accountability through IT,” he said.
K.K. Mahapatra, the organising secretary of NICT 2012 and associate vice-president, IT, ABP Pvt Ltd, set the tone for the day in his welcome address: “It is extremely delightful to see that the NICT is not just an annual event but the voice of the people of the region that echoes in the deepest corners of the country where not only do we talk about what we have achieved but also chalk out our visions for the future.”