The occasion was small, the guest-list huge, the pitch high. And chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee seized the moment to signal the state government’s “clear message” of putting information technology (IT) atop its priority list. At the inauguration of city-based IT firm Web Development Company’s (WDC) software development facility and international call centre in Saltlec on Monday evening, (picture on Page 23), Bhattacharjee also unveiled his Vision 2010 — a time-specific IT strategy to power Bengal into the big bracket. “The state’s vision is to rank among the top three IT states in India by 2010 and contribute 15 to 20 per cent of the country’s total IT revenues, which are expected to be around $ 70 billion,” declared the chief minister.
It was a virtual roll-call of business biggies and senior bureaucrats that was plugged into Bhattacharjee’s reiteration that information technology enabled services (ITES) would be the focus in the short run, while both IT services and ITES would be the power-drivers in the long run. According to the chief minister, Bengal will be targeting “15 per cent of business process outsourcing revenues and 10 per cent of other revenues” from the ITES revenue pie. In the IT services sector, the state is aiming for “15 to 20 per cent of software services export and 25 per cent of all product development outsourcing”.
In a bid to showcase the government’s achievements in luring IT projects into the state, Bhattacharjee said the McKinsey-led IT investment hunt has resulted in “six serious proposals” from 36 meetings. If the chief minister was busy spelling out goals, IT minister Manab Mukherjee dwelt on how to get there. While welcoming the 120-seater call centre, opened by WDC in Salt Lake’s Sector V on Monday, as “a start”, Mukherjee stressed the need for more individual players to infiltrate various segments of the IT sector.
“The success of Bangalore and Hyderabad, to a great extent, can be attributed to companies like Wipro and Infosys. We need such brand associations with the city and we expect several companies and individuals, especially the youth, to come forward,” urged Mukherjee. He explained how various features of the recent ITES policy — like allowing night shifts for women executives and giving it public-utility industry status — would help growth, before stating that the government would announce a new IT policy “shortly”.