The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kirtan leaves behind IT fair in race to stadium

Calcutta, Jan. 9: Bengal’s do-it-now government forgot an assurance to the organisers of a technology fair and gave the go-ahead to a kirtan mela instead.

At least that’s what Compass (Computer Association of Eastern India) officials would say.

When the association requested the department of sports for dates between January 7 and 14 for their annual IT show at Netaji Indoor Stadium three months ago, with the rent, they were asked to hold on as the tariff was likely to be hiked.

But when it returned to the department, which is in charge of the stadium, later, Compass was told it had already been booked for “a kirtan event”.

Repeated requests and visits to sports minister Subhas Chakraborty yielded no result.

Officials of the department said the dates were allotted on the basis of “forward booking”. “Though Compass had announced the dates for the exhibition, they had not made the payment in time.”

The sponsors of the kirtan said a discourse by Sudanshu Maharaja is organised every year through a trust in the first or second week of January. They denied having any knowledge regarding a clash of dates.

The Compass fair brings together entrepreneurs from the region and global companies like Intel, LG, Microsoft, Seagate, VIA Technology and Samsung.

Last year, business worth Rs 200 crore was generated from the fair. This year, a 40 per cent growth was expected on the basis of the interest evinced by participants. About 110 firms, including 30 from the software sector, were expected to turn up.

“We would request the government to confirm the dates for an event at least six months in advance,” said Pawan Jajodia, co-chairman of Compass. “This would help us interact better with foreign participants.”

Processions, political and religious rallies, strikes and labour problems have contributed significantly to the investor shying away from the state’s “pool of human resources”.

“Tomorrow’s bandh has posed a major problem with many of our visiting delegates having to prepone their return,” said Compass chairman B. Hari. A software firm has declined to stay on for the seminar.

The date fiasco slur on the government is in sharp contrast to the southern states, which achieve half of their promotion through word-of-mouth publicity from satisfied investors.

P.K. Sandell, the vice-chairman of the Electronics and Computer Software Export promotion Council, said: “There is an urgent need to ban strikes and shows of labour unrest. The government has to prove that it means business if it expects to attract business.”

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