The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Arun’s ambition: IT road minus disruption

Calcutta, Nov. 16: Arun Shourie, Union minister for information technology and communications, today rolled out a recipe for the Bengal government to realise its dream of becoming a favoured IT destination by 2010.

Wrapped in carefully-phrased praise, “three ambitions for Bengal”, the message from the minister was clear at the inaugural ceremony of Infocom 2003, organised by Nasscom and Businessworld, an ABP Group publication.

Shourie stressed the need to continue with the initiatives and deliver on the promises. “Please continue the improvement,” he said, lauding the Left government for a job “well-started”.

But promises alone won’t do. Focusing on performance, he spelt out his second ambition: “Make these new initiatives work.”

Then came a word of caution for the government, which still refuses to accept the disruptive impact of rallies. “The image of West Bengal is changing. But we must understand the cost of image. It takes long in remedying the image and if, in between, there is any disruption, the entire effort will be vitiated.”

Besides listing the dos for Bengal, Shourie also charted out a six-point action plan — like forging alliances with associations abroad and giving a boost to the domestic market — for India to emerge as a global leader in knowledge-based industries and achieve what China has in manufacturing.

“Recently, at a meeting with the Prime Minister, 10 specific areas for both the central government and state governments have been identified, where the use of IT will be intensified to boost the domestic market,” said Shourie. Exports contribute over 80 per cent of the earnings of the sector.

According to the minister, the 5,00,000 people — of an average age of 26 — working in this sector are “scripting a success story” for the country and causing “significant backlash against offshoring” in the developed world.

All the speakers at the inauguration of the exhibition and conference dwelt on the impact on the Indian IT industry of protective measures adopted in the West. “Contrary to the perceived losses, there are gains for the US from offshoring,” said Rajat Gupta of McKinsey after presenting a study on how offshore activity can bring in competitiveness.

Gupta was backed by Harris Miller, president, IT Association of America. “We are committed to a global marketplace for IT and are working hard to keep access open,” he said.

The other speakers at the inaugural session included Nasscom chairman Som Mittal, Bengal IT minister Manab Mukherjee and West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation chairman Somnath Chatterjee.

They were optimistic about Bengal and the region’s future in the IT industry. “We know things are happening here and the industry is growing. We hope it goes on,” summed up Kiran Karnik, the president of Nasscom.

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