Tuesday, August 10, 2004

CM meets BATF and IT CEOs today

State to assuage hurt IT feelings

Faced with severe criticism for “neglecting IT” in the budget, Chief Minister N Dharam Singh is holding confabulations with IT majors, including captains of Wipro and Infosys, on Tuesday to imbibe confidence in them over the government’s commitment towards the sector.

Besides, Mr Singh has also invited members of the Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF) for the meeting, where he is expected to have informal talks on ways and means to keep the Task Force active. However, no specific agenda is fixed for Tuesday’s meeting, sources in the chief minister’s office said.

Soon after the IT industry voiced anger over the poor infrastructure facilities and threatened to move out to other States, Mr Singh and his deputy Siddaramaiah quickly decided to hold talks with them as a damage control exercise.

Besides IT, lack of mention about new infrastructure projects for Bangalore in the budget and its silence on BATF, led to widespread criticism from all quarters, especially from a section of the media. In fact, BATF had even decided to shut shop here and offered its services to other major cities like Delhi.

The meeting, to be attended by Wipro Chairman Azim Premji, Infosys founder Narayan Murthy and captains of 11 other City-based IT industries, will hold discussions mainly on improving infrastructure in and outside the City. But Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani, who is also the Chairman of BATF, is unlikely to be present due to his busy schedule, sources said.

From the BATF side, V Ravichandar, Ramesh Ramanathan, Kalpana Kar and others are expected to participate.


Improving infrastructure in Bangalore
To take up more IT corridor projects
To take IT to other cities in the State
Decent motorable roads
Efficient public transport system
Implementation of BATF agenda
Downward revision of sales tax on hardware from 5 to 12%

Bid to prevent IT sector from logging out of State

By S. Rajendran, The Hindu

BANGALORE, AUG. 9. Those heading the State Government will meet the captains of the information technology industry here on Tuesday for a dialogue on the sector's complaint of lack of infrastructure in Bangalore and to explain the corrective measures planned.

The Government is likely to tell the IT industry that it is keen on developing the infrastructure in and around Bangalore in the larger interests of all sections of people, particularly those connected with the IT sector.

The convening of the meeting in itself is being cited as proof of the new Government's receptivity to criticism and complaints. The Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, himself will be there to talk to the leaders of the IT sector.

The interaction is likely to ease the tension on both sides. A section of the IT sector had virtually threatened to shift from Bangalore if the Government did not pay proper attention to the development of roads and ensure uninterrupted power supply.


It was mentioned that the Government would like to place certain facts before the IT sector and seek its cooperation. The software exports from the State, which was 28 per cent (Rs. 18,100 crores) of the total exports in 2002-03, touched the 36 per cent mark last year and it is expected to grow to over 43 per cent (Rs. 30,000 crores) this year.

The Government is expected to tell the industry that it has nothing against its growth. However, the Government has to keep in mind the needs of various other sectors, including the agricultural and the rural sectors. Mr. Dharam Singh is expected to tell the captains of the IT industry that the Information Technology policy of the State has been evolved over the years and every effort will be made to ensure that there is continuity irrespective of the Government in power.


The IT sector has placed Bangalore specifically and Karnataka in general on the world map and the Government too is proud of the achievements. A communication gap or rumours floated by some vested interests has resulted in some sort of friction between the IT sector and the Government.

The Government however, wants the IT sector to spread to other parts of the State to prevent the influx of people into Bangalore, and it will be the Government's responsibility to provide the required infrastructure.

Direct interaction

Sources in the Government said the Chief Minister wanted to directly hear from the captains of the IT sector on their demands pertaining to infrastructure. "The Chief Minister has only read about their demands in a section of the media or has been told of the demands by some people connected with the IT industry. This is the first time after taking over as Chief Minister that he will be having a direct interaction with the heads of the industry or their representatives," they said.

Apart from the Chief Minister, the others who will attend the meeting are the Deputy Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah; the Minister for Large- and Medium-scale Industries, Infrastructure Development, and Civil Aviation, P.G.R. Sindhia; the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, S.V. Ranganath; the Additional Secretary to the Chief Minister, Javed Akthar; the Principal Secretary, Department of Industries and Commerce, N. Gokul Ram; secretaries of the departments concerned; the Commissioner of the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, K. Jothiramalingam; and the Commissioner of the Bangalore Development Authority, M.N. Vidyashankar.


"Developing infrastructure is capital intensive and the IT sector is aware of the funds required. The Government will, however, show that it is serious in improving the infrastructure. The population of Bangalore is growing alarmingly and the authorities are finding it difficult to meet the demand. The serious drought across the State over the past three years has also hit the State's economy. We are confident that the IT sector will understand the priorities of the Government," sources said.

The Chief Minister is expected tell the IT sector that the Bangalore Agenda Task Force constituted by the previous Government will continue and there is no question of disbanding the agency. Efforts will be made to further strengthen the BATF and ensure that it works for the overall development of the city.

The State Government has invited, among others, the Infosys Chief Mentor, N.R. Narayana Murthy; its Chief Executive Officer, Nandan Nilekani; the Wipro chief, Azim Premji; the President and CEO of Digital Global Soft, Som Mittal; the CEO of Mphasis Ltd., Jerry Rao; the head of IBM Global Services, Shankar Annaswamy; the head of Texas Instruments, Biswajit Mithra; the Director of American Power Conversion, Javed Ahmed; the head of GE Medical Systems, G. Manohar; the head of Dell International Ltd., Romi Malhotra; the campaign coordinator of Janaagraha, Ramesh Ramanathan; and members of the BATF Kalpana Kar and Ravichander.


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