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 🙂