| The chief minister at Friday’s meet. Picture by Aranya Sen
Target: 15 per cent of the country’s export earnings in information technology (IT) and 20 per cent of the IT-enabled services (ITES) pie by 2010.
Tool: Setting up a working group to chalk out the road ahead and ensure sustained growth in these sectors.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee chose an industry-academia platform on Friday to reiterate Bengal’s targets from the knowledge economy, hint at an imminent Infosys entry and roll out a things-to-do list.
“There is a gap between the demand for and supply of professionals and the gap has to be bridged. In this regard, a working group needs to be constituted with representatives from industry and academia,” said Bhattacharjee.
Addressing the inaugural session of the meet organised by the state government’s IT department, in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), Bhattacharjee highlighted the achievements of the state in the past few years.
“The industry in West Bengal has grown by 120 per cent in the last year, against the national average of 36 per cent. We will have to continue the good show,” he stressed, adding that Infosys had “in principle” agreed to set up a base in Calcutta.
“I have been in touch with Mr (N.R.) Narayanamurthy over the past two to three years,” added Bhattacharjee.
State higher education minister Satya Sadhan Chakraborty, IT minister Manab Mukherjee and Nasscom president Kiran Karnik were present at the meet. They were joined by corporate chieftains from ITC, PricewaterhouseCoopers, IBM and Wipro and representatives from premier academic institutions like IIT-Kharagpur, IIM-Calcutta, Indian Statistical Institute and Calcutta University.
“I know that the chief minister will not forget about this, so we must evolve an action plan over the next two months and go back to him with our recommendations,” observed B. Muthuraman, chairman, CII eastern region.
Karnik stressed the importance of evolving a system that could support growth in the industry. “From Nasscom, we have set an export target of $50 billion from India by 2009. If the country has to achieve that target, Bengal will have to play an important role. The state is powering ahead at great speed, but it has to be supported with human resources and adequate research and development,” said the Nasscom president.
Karnik went on to urge Bengal, “famous for leading research and development initiatives” to contribute in developing cutting-edge technology and also in spreading the benefit to the grassroots.