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.

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 🙂