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September 21, 1999
in New Delhi
Hall No 7 of Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, is a picture of complete chaos.
Dodging the cans of paint and stumbling over the electric cables strewn on the floor are volunteers from Micromedia, barking instructions into their walky-talkies.
Tomorrow the delegates in their grey suits and visitors in their best casuals will see a different world. Electric cables will be swept under blue carpets. Air-conditioned stalls, complete with flowers and slick marketing executives, will replace plywood pieces and grubby workers.
Tomorrow India Internet World '99 will come to life.
IIW '99 will be a three-day long jamboree from September 22 to September 24 and is expected to attract over 75,000 general visitors. It is being produced by Micromedia, in association with Penton Media Inc.
Prakash Gurbaxani, CEO, Micromedia, the Indian organiser of the event, says: "In line with our vision, we brought Internet World to India last year. IIW '98 showcased for the first time in India a global forum of substance in the Internet arena. IIW '99 has been embraced by a wider cross-section of companies across diverse industries. This shows that the Indian market is poised to take significant advantage of the Internet."
The India Internet World idea was born in December 1996 in the office of Microland at Koramangala in Bangalore.
Pradeep Kar, chairman and managing director, Micromedia, and Gurbaxani, in association with Mecklermedia, believe that India is ready for a show dedicated to the Internet.
The conference and exhibition last year was a huge success with speakers like Sabeer Bhatia, founder of Hotmail, Chris Moore, CEO, iPass and William Melton, CEO, Cybercash.
This year the show promises to be equally star-studded. But before that here's the fact sheet on IIW '99.
The conference will have five tracks:
However, the two-year-old fair is already attracting its share of controversy.
The India Internet awards that were instituted last time have been dropped this year. Sponsored by The Economic Times and hosted by Microland, the awards were the first of its kind.
This year, however, there will be no glittering ceremony at a glitzy hotel.
When Rediff asked Gurbaxani why the awards are not being given out this year he said "There is no particular reason why there are no Net awards this year. Last year it was done by The Economic Times and Microland. It was not organised by us and so there is no question of it not being there this time. It was never a part of the show organised by us."
But when this reporter pointed out that since Micromedia is a part of the Microland Group how could it claim to be not responsible for the awards, Gurbaxani did replied "We work as an independent company despite being a part of the Microland Group. I am sure that everyone starts with good intentions but sometimes things do not work out. But I don't know why the awards are not being held this year. You must ask someone from Microland."
Next, Rediff confronted Pradeep Kar, chairman, Microland Group.
"The awards are going to be held separately this year. We have a different thing planned so we are not going to have the awards ceremony as part of the Internet show," Kar explains.
But Kar could not explain what would be so "different" about the awards this year. He could not even reveal when these awards would be held.
Kar is also unsure whether the same trophy would be retained or a new one would be designed for the revamped awards. "I don't know. I haven't even thought about these things yet. They are not decided yet," he shrugs.
He is, however, emphatic that the show will go on. But how, where and when are questions that are yet to be answered.
Awards will not be the only thing that IIW '99 will miss. Big names like Compaq and IBM have kept away from the show this time.
Gurbaxani told Rediff "As far as I know this decision has got nothing to do with our show or our management of the show. Compaq had confirmed its participation but at the last moment because of a decision from its headquarters they had to drop out. IBM is also not participating because of some internal reasons. It has got nothing to do with the show."
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