If anything that could define business in Kolkata even five years back, it was the image of a horrifying landscape plagued by militant trade unions and paralysed by recurrent bouts of bandh. And, take a look at Kolkata today. It is the same old city but life has gained vitality, business has gathered momentum, economy is on an upswing, and the overall growth impresses even the strongest naysayers before cursing Kolkata. It is nothing other than the bustling IT industry that has acted as the growth-booster, giving the city its long-overdue impetus towards prospect.
Kolkata is now heading to emerge as India’s next IT hub. The journey from “lockouts to logins”, as Nasscom president Kiran Karnik called it, has been a standalone proof for Kolkata’s progress.
Karnik visited the city on Wednesday to chair the Infocom 2004 – a joint effort of Businessworld and Nasscom. The third chapter of India’s one of the biggest IT expositions began amidst a confluence of IT professionals and leaders of corporate India. Claiming IT to have displaced the traditional sector as the biggest export earner, he acknowledged how Kolkata was fast emerging as an attractive IT destination for global powerhouses. “But Kolkata must do away with the bandh culture,” he left a note of caution.
Urging the people and the government to develop a “must-do, can-do attitude”, Karnik focussed on the need for more effective brand building initiatives and the need for re-fashioning both Kolkata and West Bengal at large. Touching upon the infrastructure issues, he stressed on improvement of physical infrastructure facilities like roadways, power supply and traffic management, etc.
In his speech, Karnik also shared how Nasscom was planning to promote even the smaller towns like Siliguri alongside the metro. Identifying the city as the access point to North East, he said that the BIMSTEC would help further improving the overall position of Kolkata.
Addressing the conference, Jerry Rao, Chairman, Nasscom, urged the government and the industry to work in sync to bridge the digital divide in the country. Emphasising on the need to invest in human capital, he felt for the need of an efficient education system that would help grow the industry further. Rao also spoke about the Nasscom initiative towards creating better awareness by setting up a foundation.