The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kalam sets ‘happy’ goal
- Infotech industry sees strike test coming up

Calcutta, Dec. 6: A technocrat President set a clear, if daunting, task for the infotech industry today — to help create “a prosperous, happy and peaceful world”.

As the who’s who of the local and global IT industry trooped into the opening session of Infocom 2006, the country’s biggest information, communication and technology exposition organised by Nasscom and Businessworld, an ABP group publication, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam shared his thoughts on the conference theme, Innovate to Differentiate.

“I think you should innovate to differentiate and also innovate to integrate so that we will have a prosperous, happy and peaceful world….” he said, broadening the scope of the five-day conference-cum-exposition.

Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi and state IT minister Debesh Das were also present at the opening ceremony.

Over the next few days, the Infocom platform will host a number of interactions — like the Innovators’ Forum, Global Forum, Future Technology Forum, BPO-KPO Forum — to identify challenges and opportunities before the industry.

Over 1,500 delegates from top Indian and global companies have signed up for the conference while 500 exhibitors have taken stalls in the 100,000-sq-ft exhibition venue at the Salt Lake Stadium.

“Infocom started in a small way…. Now, it is going global and attracting participants from various parts of the world,” said Pramath Raj Sinha, managing director and CEO, ABP Pvt Ltd.

B. Ramalinga Raju, chairman of Nasscom, narrated the five-year journey of Infocom, beginning modestly in 2002 to become the country’s largest such show that is yielding rich dividends for Bengal.

“A lot of things have changed in Bengal in the last few years and the most important is the change of perception,” said Raju, who also heads Satyam Computers.

The presence of policy makers, business leaders and strategists — from India and abroad — on the first day and optimism about Bengal bore signs of the winds of change blowing in the state.

Along with the compliments, though, there were a few words of caution — eight days before the Left trade union-sponsored December 14 general strike — with Nasscom president Kiran Karnik reminding the government about its responsibility to sustain a 24x7 work environment.

“It is going to be a watershed event for Bengal. If the IT companies can work without any disruption and people willing to work are allowed to work, it will send a strong message about the government’s commitment to business continuity,” said Karnik.

Bengal’s IT minister assured the gathering that the government would try to ensure that disruption was not forced on people willing to work. “We are a democratic state and we think no one should be forced to join a strike,” said Das, drawing a big round of applause.

If the Bengal Tigers — the term used by the President to refer to the state’s tech brigade — are allowed to work on December 14, his prediction will move a few steps closer to reality.

“Now that Bengal has woken up, we are all eagerly waiting to make the dream of $200 billion by 2010 a reality by innovating to differentiate,” he said.

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