The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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US harps on cooperation to boost infotech growth

Calcutta, Nov. 17: IT spending in the US is on the rise, the economy having emerged from the recession. Federal government spending on IT has risen 10 per cent and corporate spending 15 per cent this year.

Harris Miller, president of Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), said: “The technology euphoria of 1999-2000 ended with the dotcom bust, and the growth that we see now is for real.”

That’s good news for countries like India, he said. “Though India is viewed as a threat to the domestic workforce in the US now, we are going to face a shortage of skilled manpower in a few years.”

Bitterly criticising the efforts in the US to curb “offshoring”, Miller said the likes of Nasscom and ITAA should join forces to pull down trade barriers.

“There’s a view among Americans that every job lost in the US goes to India, which, of course, is not true. But then there are pressure groups that want Americans to believe so,” Miller said.

“Barriers to free trade hurt consumers and the economy. We must ensure that we are represented in the EU, the World Trade Organisation and so on and oppose protectionism at all levels,” he said.

Miller’s views were strongly appreciated by Kiran Karnik, president of Nasscom, who said: “We must have a common stake in breaking down trade barriers.”

He concurred with Miller on the outlook for the future. “Projections are stable (and not euphoric), and IT looks to be back.”

Oracle Corporation managing director (South Asia) Keith Budge said he was impressed with the efforts made by Bengal to sell itself as a destination for IT companies.

He said Oracle was bullish on India and would be recruiting some 300 professionals by the end of this year. At present, Oracle employs some 3,700 professionals in India.

Hindustan Lever chairman M. S. Banga said technology should be at the head of the transformation that was taking place in the Indian economy.

The innovations in technology were fascinating, but one shouldn’t be carried away by the developments. “Each company must consider the benefits accruing to it before investing in technology,” he said.

“IT is like a toy. Every time you go through a duty-free shop you see new models of laptops on display. You must know what you need and paying for,” Banga said.

“In Hindustan Lever, we are extremely hard-nosed about benefits accruing to the business from our investment,” he said.

ITC chairman Y. C. Deveshwar said his company was using technology to connect one lakh villages in the country.

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