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`Bridge the digital divide in the country'

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`Celebrate the developments in information and communications technology but do not romanticise it'

Mr Gopalkrishna Gandhi
Mr Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Our Bureau

Kolkata, Dec. 7

THE West Bengal Governor, Mr Gopalkrishna Gandhi, today presented a strong case for bridging the digital divide across the country and said celebrations over the achievements of the Indian IT industry would be "fractured" if this was not done.

Delivering his address at the inaugural ceremony of Infocom 2005 Conference and Exhibition being organised here jointly by Businessworld and Nasscom, Mr Gandhi asked "who is our software exports benefiting" and urged the Indian IT industry to embark upon a mid-course correction if we were to avoid seeing the "fractured face of the digital divide".

"Celebrate the developments in information and communications technology (ICT) but do not romanticise it," he said, even as he acknowledged the potential and achievement of IT enablement not just in India but globally.

Mr Gandhi quoted figures from the last National Sample Survey and said how a small part of India, and that too predominantly urban India, was covered by IT.

He also spoke of the gender divide in the IT arena, "some outstanding female entrepreneurs notwithstanding".

Speaking on the occasion, Mr B. Ramalinga Raju, Vice-Chairman of Nasscom, said IT was no more confined to big cities and had reached rural India as well. In fact, in the rural areas, IT could play a significant role in healthcare and education.

He said IT must reach out to more people and the penetration must be deeper.

According to Mr Raju, IT services were slated to grow at a faster rate in the next 15 years than they have in the last 15 years.

In his address, Mr Kiran Karnik, President of Nasscom, said IT penetration might be small in India in percentage terms as on date but it was pushing the economy, even the manufacturing sector.

He said IT was an important tool to tackle "not just income disparities but also social disparities".

Mr Karnik praised the Government of West Bengal for its "proactive role" in facilitating the growth of the IT sector in the State.

He also had a good word for the talent pool that was available in the State.

This augurs well for West Bengal since "in the world of tomorrow, work will go where there is talent and not talent where there is work".

Mr Aniruddha Lahiri, Managing director of ABP Pvt Ltd, said that, in today's world, intellectual capital had replaced plant and machinery in wealth creation and the benefits of ICT must reach every one, every day.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 8, 2005)
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