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What the tech, telecom leaders want from Modi

Last updated on: January 18, 2014 15:33 IST

What the tech, telecom leaders want from Modi

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Surabhi Agarwal and Akshat Kaushal in New Delhi

Leaders from the information technology and telecom sectors confided to Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, that poor broadband penetration was a major impediment in their growth.

They told Modi increasing broadband penetration should be first on his agenda.

Modi on Friday met industry leaders in New Delhi at a closed-door meeting.

Apart from broadband, the Gujarat chief minister was also apprised by the industry of their concerns over the slowing economy and the challenge the country faced in training a majorly unskilled workforce.

They appeared impressed by Modi.

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Image: A schoolboy uses his cell phone to take a picture of classmates hanging onto cement roots at Nek Chand's Rock Garden in Chandigarh.
Photographs: Andrew Caballero/Reuters

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They said he heard them out but didn’t provide any immediate answers.

Instead, he asked the participants to give a White Paper based on their recommendations.

These would be considered for the party’s manifesto, BJP sources said.

Later, addressing an award ceremony at the same venue, Modi said the IT revolution had changed the world’s attitude towards India.

He, however, added that the IT and telecom sectors were hit hard because of the alleged corruption surrounding the auction of 2G telecommunication licences.

“I was asked in Taiwan in the mid-1990s.

“Is India still the land of snake charmers -- this was how the world thought,” Modi said, adding the IT revolution had changed this perception.

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Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Photographs: Reuters

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Stating the importance of building a fibre-optic network, Modi said earlier cities were built around rivers, but future cities will crop up where fiber-optic networks are strong.

Modi said he intended to promote digital literacy, which could involve everyone below the age of 35 being technology literate, encouraging the government to shift to e-governance and strengthening rural tele-density.

Neelam Dhawan, managing director of HP India, said Modi appreciated the way in which the industry approached issues.

“We were not asking just for rebates or sops but presenting the case for how technology can aid in innovation and economic growth.”

About 15 chief executive officers were given two minutes to air their views, within which they had to mention three challenges facing their sector, and three recommendations.

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Image: Narendra Modi.
Photographs: Reuters

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Among those present at the meeting were almost 30 leading CEOs of the industry, including Jeff White, president of India & SAARC for Cisco; Rajan Anandan, Google India managing director; C P Gurnani, Tech Mahindra chief; P Balaji, Nokia India’s president and managing director.

Deep Kalra, founder and chief of Makemytrip.com, said this was a first-of-its-kind initiative by a political leader to get a grip on the challenges faced by the industry.

“This is absolutely the way to go as there is no other mechanism for us to put forward our issues,” Kalra said.

During the meeting, Modi stressed the need for fuelling innovation in India. Modi, considered to be technology savvy, said he was familiar with most of the issues of the industry.


Image: Narendra Modi.
Photographs: Reuters
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