Meeting with IT Secretary, Govt. of Karnataka
Thanks to the blogging and the bloggers community especially Prashanth from Techbangalore.com I got invite to meet IT Secretary of Govt of Karnataka, Mr M.N. Vidyashankar. Frankly I wasnt much prepared for the conversation expect the fact I work for an IT company. Along with me were Hari, Arun and Prashanth. Mr M.N. Vidyashankar received us at his office. He started with great enthusiasm explaining us what Bangalore is for IT. He stated certain facts that showed how much IT meant for Karnataka. He was clear that IT could not be ignored at all, after all 26% of Karnataka's GDP comes from in there although to India's GDP it contributes a mere 4%. With 4.9lakh plus people employed by the industry it was bigger than the state which is around 4.5 lakhs.
He told us that infrastructure crunch was the reason why around 18 months back heads started rolling. 10000 acre Knowledge City at Biradi is the outcome of that. Bigger plan is get 5 such self contained townships with over 60000 acres of land. Interesting part of this township is that every company that buys land for its corporate use will have to compulsorily get residential land as well. For better commuting till the International Airport a special 8lane highway will be constructed. Extension of Metro is also under consideration. But the bigger question that still remains is that are not people in Bangalore going to work in that place. If so, how good or bad will that be. When certain areas of Bangalore dont have proper transportation means how is that township going to manage. Not everyone in Bangalore has the luxury of a car. Even if its there, at time we do need the public transport. Without that being in place I see no point why someone will move from Bangalore to Knowledge City. And initially for sure companies will have to relocate staff from existing locations itself. I am not sure how most of the people are going to react. I am sure more thought has to be put into this. Getting people first or the establishments(shops, public transport etc) is an example of classic chicken and egg problem.
BangaloreIT.in which is on 29 Oct to 1st Nov this year has a new theme, "Gateway to Asia". Its at Bangalore International Exhibition Centre on Tumkur Road so that conference and exhibition might not located at different locations. He has already had a lot of convincing and conversation with ambassadors of several countries. He has been promised delegation from several of the countries. The industry captains chair this commission and plan its activities. He wants to get the government out of it and let the industry do it. His idea is to make BangaloreIT.in something like CeBIT. A very clear question came from Arun, "Why are we not showcasing the event with people waiting to tell that they are doing next." The focus of the event should shift from showcasing Bangalore and IT in India to showcasing IT itself. Bangalore story does not need to be told. Everyone already knows it. When we do it Bangalore, Karnataka and India are automatically impressed on them. And he did not look all that convinced with this. He thought that the industry had made the agenda and it should only drag it forward. Another of the suggestion made was not just have industry captains but the young blood also involved. Mr Vidyashankar just said, its done. I was amazed that he could be that receptive to the idea. After all its not just the wisdom of the experienced but the energy of the young that will actually move the country forward. He was very clear that the BangaloreIT.in has faltered and slipped due to certain problems but moving forward he wants to remove all that is blocking its progress. He said that certain arrangements have been done to have more people coming in like, students would be allowed free entry, transportation arrangement for colleges and plus there would be transportation arranged from all bus terminal at very short durations. Seems like government is all geared up to give IT its top priority. They are even going to tag all visitors with RFID and help them succeed in getting their job done.
I had one question about why the government was not serious about promoting startups. But sadly instead of reply from Mr Vidyashankar a fellow blogger from praja.in(He likes to remain anonymous) said he did not want government to get involved in it. Perhaps not the right thing to be done but none the less, I got an answer from Mr Vidyashankar. He said that ITPL did have that concept but it was still not very well utilized even after 18months. But then actually the startups do not need all that facility but some basic facility at a real low cost.
Anyway it a good to see that Government of Karnataka is recognizing the non-traditional media and contacted us for the session. I hope this does not end up as a one off event. Thanks to Maya Naresh from text100.com for arranging the meet.