Kolkatanovus: Shaping Kolkata’s Future

On 25th May, 2014 I attended the fantastic “apolitical” adda session with Derek O’Brien, Honorable Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha).

Let me be direct and not beat around the bush….

Why this meetup was called?

To brand “Kolkata” in best possible ways.

Was it a political discussion?

No. It was not a political discussion nor was it driven by any political agenda

Then why Derek O’Brien was present?

He is a visionary, motivator, enabler and wants youth of Kolkata to shape Kolkata’s future. He is ready to guide, mentor and show directions, for which reason he was present (He (DOBA) sponsored the lunch J)

Who all were present?

Different people from different background were present – teachers, students, working professionals, writers, filmmaker, entrepreneur, RJ.

What was the discussion all about?

Though the meet up was informal in nature, WE all discussed some really serious stuff. The audience suggested to Derek some of the areas where Youth of Kolkata can work together and bring about a change. Finally, at the end, 6 focus groups were formed: Career/Job creation, Safety, Music & Culture, Education, Cleanliness, and Communication. Each of us present were asked to join maximum 2 groups and each of the focus groups was assigned with a group leader and tasks to be undertaken.

What will the tasks be for each group?

Each “Focus Group” will meet, discuss, brainstorm and come of up with some suggestions supported by action plans. The plan will be reviewed by Derek and other concerned persons (including group members) and finally it will be executed.

What I liked about the adda session?

a) We keep discussing about how to brand Bengal in best possible ways. There are people from different professions who are working towards it but somehow we all are not well connected. This adda session was a small step to bring the like-minded youth of Kolkata under one common platform.

b) In most informal events, you will see hardly any execution plans, however this was not the case here.

(Details of the execution and results will be shared shortly. If you think you want to join any of these energetic groups and add value, then get in touch with Agnivo only)

Note: This was not a blogger’s meet nor was it a social media meet up. It was a serious session to empower responsible youth to work for betterment of Kolkata

I must mention about the coffee cum beer session we had before and after the session J

  1. Pre-session short chit-chat with Sumana, Rj Arvind, Ranabir at Chai Break
  2. Post lunch-beer-chat session with Agnivo, Sumana, Ranabir and Rj Arvind at Olypub

Special Thanks to:

  1. Agnivo – for spotting the right people and bringing them together at the session
  2. Dalhousie Institute – for the hospitality
  3. Sumana, Ranabir, Arvind & Agnivo – for the lovely post lunch discussion
  4. Anirban, Ramasish, Sayon and others – for the photographs

SoLo Changers

It’s a ruthless world, but, there are people who are bringing a change through their day to day work and impacting the society… the change can be many… or it can be just making others happy.

Today was a great day of my life… today, was the launch of SoLo Changers – an initiative to connect with Social Local Changers of our society. 13 changers were be present, along with myself, to discuss their journey 🙂

And the Changers were:

  1. Agnivo Niogi
  2. Anirban Saha
  3. Arpan Kumar Mukherjee
  4. Arvind
  5. Dr. Sumanta Thakur (in the last minute he could not come because of an emergency)
  6. Pankaj Kumar
  7. Samantak Sinha
  8. Sheikh Sadaquat Hossain
  9. Steve Capell
  10. Sumana Chakraborty
  11. Surmi Roy
  12. Tanay Ghoshal
  13. Vijaya Das
  14. Harshit Mehta

Thanks to Honcho for sponsoring the coffee, XenisInfocom for booking the domain, Content Creche for communication support. Even a short visit to RadioOne studio was cool, thanks to Arvind

Thanks to each one of the changers present today.


In Kolkata: Who are the best?

Kolkata is a city full of talents. But it often turns out to be a real problem for someone trying to figure out the right talent from the crowd.

So, here I am, providing you a list of talented people whom I think are the best. In case you are looking for someone, then you can refer to this list:

  • Photography – Anirban Saha, is not just good but brilliant. If you want a professional to capture your precious moments or in need of photography tips then he is always there.
  • Bengal and its Socio-Economic Status – Agnivo Niogi, is someone who is completely in love with Bengal and understands the current socio-eco-political scenario of the state. He is usually very busy, but if you need any input about Bengal then he is the right pool of knowledge for you.
  • Retro Music – MJ Arvind, a passionate guy and I would say No. 1 in Bengal as far as Retro Music is concerned. Apart from music, you may even contact him for events or wedding sangeets
  • Bengali Recitation – Surmi Roy, although this is not her profession, but in case you are looking for someone who can recite Bengali poems then she is the right person.
  • IT Hardware Specialist – Hemant Chabria, he is the King in the market. He will give you real solutions in hardware space.
  • Linux Guru – Indranil Das Gupta, is man if you want to know A-Z of Linux J
  • Travel Guru – Prosun Kanti, has travelled a lot, and he can be your guide. You might find his travel tips really helpful.
  • Graphologist – Pradeep Banerjee, I visited his coaching center number of times and trust me he is an expert in this field of Graphology.
  • Chartered Accountant – Pijush Karmakar, helpful and trustworthy person. He will never misguide you.
  • Tax Consultant – Alok Patnia, his startup can give your end to end tax related solution
  • Bengal Tant Sarees – Kajal Chakraborty, can provide some of the finest tant sarees at very reasonable rates. Wanna learn multiple handicrafts from toy making to painting? She is the one you need to get in touch with. Do visit her page: https://www.facebook.com/tantbangla
  • Legal Support – Ramanuj Mukherjee, is very helpful at the times when you are looking for legal help. (Although he moves around the country, still you can connect with him virtually)
  • Event Management – Kaushik Dutta, has the bandwidth to provide end to end solutions within your budget.

Note: I have listed the above names based on the skill set and my personal experience. While dealing with them, if there are any financial misunderstanding, I am no way responsible 🙂

If you want to know more about them and are unable to connect with them, then shoot me an email.

My observation about the Kolkata IT Ecosystem

I left NASSCOM, the apex body of Indian Software Industry on 31st March 2013 and have been associated with IIF, the apex body of the Indian Foundry Industry. Since then, I have been observing the Kolkata IT ecosystem as an outsider but more closely and more clearly.

Here are few of my observations:

  1. I saw two 5+ years old companies becoming dormant.
  2. For startups, there are only very few good mentors in the market. One person who is really putting in a lot of effort is – Mr. B. Hari
  3. Some of the emerging IT companies who are doing great work and needs a special mention are – Honcho, CapitalNumbers, Xenis, High Position,  TechShu, AMS Technologies. Trust me you will learn a lot working with the team. My intuition is that very soon they will overtake quite a few number of established companies (15 years old)
  4. Best designing startup in the town currently with sound knowledge of designing is – The Thinking Hats
  5. In the BPO segment, Limtex is the best.
  6. Among the mid-level companies RS Software is still at the top with the best infrastructure. This is the only company with Rs 200 Crore plus turnover.
  7. FACT is the only product company from Bengal who are growing day by day and they have an awesome customer service.
  8. I meet a lot of IT entrepreneurs but I must mention about Atul Gupta, CEO, Insync – he is focused and he implements the right things at the right time  🙂

I also thank 2 social media group members who are always extending help and support to the community whenever required

  1. https://www.facebook.com/groups/kolkataitstartup/
  2. https://www.facebook.com/groups/kolkatait/

(I will share about few more very shortly)

You cannot rock with just 1 Skill-Set

Yes, you must be aware of this but still I am sharing this. It struck me again today!!

Look around and imagine why the following are not No 1:

  1. Pan Shop keeper vs. Best Pan Shop keeper in the town
  2. Carpenter vs. Best Carpenter whom you call every time
  3. Web Designer vs. Best Web Designer who designs stuff for you
  4. Shopkeeper vs. Most famous shopkeeper
  5. List can go on and on….

If you carefully analyze you will see the Pan Shop keeper vs. Best  Pan Shop keeper, the latter is the best not because of the quality of pan he is selling but because he is fast, interacts with his customers, understands his customer’s taste.

Similarly the best carpenter is someone not only because of his carpentry but is someone whom you call every time as he gives free consultancy on the way things needs to be shaped

The best web designer will be someone who not only designs (knows Photoshop etc.) but can work on taglines and content.

So next time you see someone and think “Oh!! This person is working so hard and still not able to become the best” – do not feel pity, always remember a person CANNOT ROCK with JUST 1 SKILL-SET

(Just apply this ideology in your day to day life and you will see how true it is … atleast I have felt it 🙂  )

Engineering Colleges should benefit the Students. (Probably More)

Trust me most of the Engineering Colleges are struggling to live up to the expectations of the students or to fill up the number of seats they offer. There are almost 3393 Engineering Colleges in India offering 14.86 Lakh seats. In West Bengal the total number of degree level Engineering & Technology colleges is 90 with an intake capacity of approximately 28751. Our IT-BPO Industry is taking 1, 60,000 – 2, 00000 students. Have you ever thought of what will happen to the rest of the engineers (students) passing out every year after spending lakhs of rupees?

It is high time the colleges understand that they play a crucial part towards the development of the society. In this post I will prescribe some suggestions to the colleges to reach to a win-win situation.

Branding: First and one of the most important steps to be taken by colleges is BRANDING. This does not mean advertising their own brands. Rather they should be branding their own college students.

The following activities can be followed:

a)      Showcasing the achievements of their students  in news pages like education times, online student communities, and social media

b)      Conduct symposiums on specific areas which are linked as per the industry needs

c)       Organize workshops, events and invite speakers from the industry ( not typical tech fests )

d)      Allowing students to participate in industry related events ( like NASSCOM IT Niketan )

e)      Opening the gate to IT SMEs and IT Start-ups to come as mentors  to students, allow then to work on live projects, and hire the interested students

Add-On Courses: The colleges must start “add-on courses” in the following areas:

a)      Open Source Technologies: PHP, Python, PERL, Ruby on Rails, Word Press

b)      Mark-up Languages: HTML5

c)       Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

d)      Javascript

e)      LAMP Architecture & WAMP Architecture

f)       Web Application Framework: CakePHP, Symfony, CodeIgniter, Yii Framework, and Zend Framework

g)      Search Engine Optimization

h)      Software Testing

( Note: Add Course structure can be edited/modified. These are just my thoughts)

Colleges should partner with individual companies working on specific areas for the skill development of students (IT SMEs and Startups can be easily approached with a proper value proposition).

Live projects: The engineering colleges should take an active part in organizing more than 1 live project for the students to work on.

Internships: The engineering colleges should inspire the students to start working as interns by the end of first year. They should be opting to work as interns in IT SMEs and Start-ups.

Lab work: The colleges should approach IT SMEs, collaborate with them and work on IT solutions in their laboratory.

I have been recommending this to the college promoters, principals, students & faculties. If one college follows it, others might follow suit. This mission will benefit the students hence the colleges and the industry at large.

Note: The figures are taken from sources like AICTE, Department of Higher Education. It may vary from time to time. 

Bengal’s IT Future at 6 Netaji Subhas Road

Bengal’s IT Future – this was the topic for discussion yesterday – May 12, 2012 at Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized by The Economic Times.

The speakers were:

  • Professor Ajoy Kumar Ray, Vice Chancellor, Bengal Engineering and Science University (BESU), Shibpur
  • Kaushik Bhattacharya, Location Head, IBM Global Services, Kolkata
  • Oney Seal, Chairman  & CEO, Databazaar
  • Kalyan Kar Co-founder & Executive Director, InThink – Infinity Knowledge Ventures.

The moderator of the session was Mr. Kalyan Parbat from Economic Times

The audiences were selected group of individuals (30 people) from the Industry and Society, and I was one among them 🙂

The discussion started with Kalyan Da’s (ET) question to the speakers “If Bangalore is rated 8/9 out 10 as far IT is concerned, then what will be your rating for Kolkata”? The moment I heard this question, there was a frown on my face but kept quite as I was eager to hear from speakers. Kalyan Da from Infinity answered it well. His rating was 6 out of 10, and he gave a proper justification from his end. The same question was asked to 3 other speakers and they almost had a same justification.

Kalyan Da (ET) asked several other questions, some of them were according to me were very relevant and each of the speakers cited their views very well. Oney Da from Databazaar said “Internet Penetration” will play a major role and immediate steps should be taken to achieve the mission “last mile connectivity”. Mr. Kaushik Bhattacharya, IBM said increasing the efficiency of the flights and improving the airport services will help greatly. Kalyan Da (Infinity) said focus should be more on branding, there should be strong POLITICAL will-power towards IT in the state and the citizens of Bengal should stop taking “ill” about their own state. Professor Ray, BESU said there should be more “Industry – Academia” collaboration.

After this there was an open house discussion involving the audience. I was the second person from the audience to ask a question which had a background.

If I am not wrong with figures, the scenario is something like this: 800+ MNS, 3000+ IT Companies, 4th Largest Technology Cluster in the world – this is Bangalore. Can Kolkata beat Bangalore? Answer is NO, and why do we have to beat Bangalore? Why do we forget Michael Porter and are so much in love with David Ricardo? In Modern Global Economy, “Comparative Advantage” (David Ricardo) is less relevant and focus should be more on “Competitive Advantage” (Michael Porter). One point which was not discussed was the importance of “Clusters” for development of any sector”.  I asked the speakers since growth will happen in the Emerging Verticals; why not FOCUS on a single vertical and be a leader in that segment? I cited them few facts & figures:  One of the emerging vertical is Media (printing & publishing) – global sourcing addressable market will be 17-20 Billion USD by 2020 (Source: NASSCOM). Yes, Mr. Kaushik Bhattacharya, IBM answered “FOCUS is important” but moved slowly into IBM’s focus instead of answering what the STATE has to do. 😦

There were 2 more questions from the audience and the discussion ended exactly at 6:30 pm. The moderator – Kalyan Da thanked everyone 🙂

While coming back, this is the thought I had People of Bengal is more interested in Bengal’s Future… so the question is what role IT will play in shaping Bengal’s Future 🙂

Storage Software Market

Today evening I was going through some articles and thought I must write few lines based on the information gathered.

Unstructured data is growing at a rate of more than 100% per year in India which is igniting the demand for storage.  Sectors/Businesses which are generating multiple terabytes of data are mainly BFSI, IT-BPO, and Government Institutions.

Organizations are now becoming seriously concerned about data management and business continuity practices. They are looking forward to finding various ways of effective disaster recovery strategies. Even SMBs, who are looking to compete with larger enterprises, have realized the critical role of customer data for higher service efficiency. Indian IT Act,2000 , the BASE II Accord, and the Sarbanes Oxley Act mandate specific guidelines for data management, retention, protection and authentication which in turn are acting as drivers for Storage Software Adoption in India and worldwide.

Four of the seven storage software markets, that IDC (International Data Corporation) tracks, grew at a double-digit pace in 2011 and continue to exhibit strong growth potential, the research firm reported. Those four markets include: Data Protection and Recovery Software, Storage Replication Software, Storage Infrastructure Software and Storage and Device Management Software.

As per NASSCOM Software Product Study, the global storage software market is forecast to grow at CAGR of 9.5 percent from USD 13.9 billion in FY2008 to USD 26.2 billion in FY 2015. There will be increased spending in software related to data protection including replication, backup, and archive software. As per NASSCOM, the Indian storage market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 27% from 55 million in FY 2008 to USD 293 million in FY2015.

Some of the key trends in the Storage Software Product Market:

a)      Open Storage Platform b) Virtualization c) Data De-duplication d) Deep Archival e) Storage-as-a-Service

Some of the Indian based companies who have storage software in their offerings:

1)      SARANGSoft India Pvt. Ltd. : Product named as filexpertez

2)      Druva: INSYNC

3)      Sanovi: Open Disaster recovery Management

Currently studying more on the delivery platforms for storage software, hope to share some more information soon 🙂

Fate of Engineers

Recently I had faced many such questions… the answers are totally based on my observations.

Fate of Engineers

Q) Will our IT industry will need engineers?

YES, we will need engineers.

Q) How many engineers?

It depends as long as they are affordable and coming at low cost.

Q) Does our Industry only need engineers?

NO, As far as IT software sector is concerned it rightly said Industry will need only 20% engineers and it will go down.

Most of the software companies take engineers for the following reasons:

  1. It is a client requirement
  2. For H1-B visa purposes
  3. Billing for engineers are higher compared to non-engineers

90% of the engineers are utilized just as programmers (persons who can code) in software companies. And to learn programming skills one need not be an engineer. Institutes teaching programming languages like C, C++, Java, .net etc can easily substitute engineering colleges.

Software companies are looking for resources in the following fields:

  1. Software Testing – Not taught in engineering college
  2. Designing – Web Designing, Graphic Designing – not taught in engineering college
  3. SEO professionals – not taught in engineering college
  4. Specific Programming knowledge – Upcoming programming skills are not taught in engineering college
  5. Software architecture – just basics are taught in engineering colleges.
  6. Software analytics –not taught in engineering college

And the list can go on…

The trend which has already started is that BCAs and BSCs are getting into IT sector. They will be preferred over engineers because of low cost.

40% of the work force will come from institutes like NIIT who are teaching and enhancing mainly programming skills.

Remaining 60% will come from two areas a) Engineering colleges (20% – 30%) b) Normal Graduates – BCA, BSC (30% – 40%)

Note: Figures mentioned above are based on assumptions and mostly my prediction



As more institutes are offering courses on Software Testing, Analytics, Data warehousing, Web Designing etc, the percentage of intake of engineers will fall.

In no point of time there will be a situation when the IT-Software industry will not take engineers unless and until the other geographies from where the work is getting outsourced makes some.

Policy changes or work which is being outsourced does not require such qualification ( e.g. work related to animation, gaming, content, digital marketing etc does not require any an engineering degree)

Another trend which has already started and it will increase – Core Engineers like Mechanical, Civil etc will be hired by IT software companies since the companies are moving up the value chain. But again the percentage will not be HIGH.

Since our industry is mainly service oriented, soft skills will be very much important and vital both in IT and BPO sectors.

 So what immediate steps need to be taken?

1. Number of skilling institutes should start offering a) courses on programming in areas like PHP, Ruby, Python, PERL  b) web designing c) SEO d) Mobile Phone application development e) Testing

2. For Engineering colleges to survive, they must start partnering with such training institutes and offer such “add on” courses to the students

3.  IT SMEs should invest more on training and development and they should partner with such training institutes.

4.  Proper credit facility needs to be in place so that engineers who are not getting jobs can join such institutes and learn a particular skill set.

5.  There needs to be Policy changes – a) AICTE (or the board concerned) syllabus needs to be upgraded frequently which will help a lot of engineering colleges to survive and it will help the engineering students.

Cost of Setting up an Non Urban IT Center in West Bengal

I visited Kakinara in Nadia district few months back and was amazed to see a RURAL BPO (or you may term it as Non Urban IT Center).

Mr. Pradip Dey the person who is managing the operations shared with me the following information.

1. Internet Connectivity
A) Primarily broadband services

• BSNL unlimited plans(4mpbs, 25 GB) – Rs 1400 per month, post paid connection
• After crossing the limit of 25 GB the speed comes down to 256 kbps. For this additional service of BSNL – 512 kbps is required which costs Rs 750 per month.
• No other private broadband services are available

B) 3G services
• BSNL and Reliance Plans are available. It Costs around Rs 250 per month.
• Tata Photon Plus costs around – Rs 1100 per month. This is used during emergency purpose.

2. Power Connectivity

• The service is provided by West Bengal State Electricity Board.
• The cost is around Rs 3000-Rs 3500 per 3 months.
• 1 Generator backup is required – Oil Usage around Rs 1200 per month. The generator costs Rs 24,500.
• 1 UPS Inverter is required. The inverter costs Rs 25000

3. Hardware Requirement

• 4 laptops and 2 desktops are currently in use.
• Preference is on laptops over desktops because of 2 main reasons: a) High backup capacity b) Electric Consumption less.

Note: You will get a fair idea if you plan to start something in non urban areas of W.B.