Has BangaloreIT.in become a white elephant?

By : |October 29, 2005 0



BANGALORE: “Bangalore has grown enough.” These words of chief guest HD Deve Gowda at the inaugural of BangaloreIT.in 2005, must have sounded incongruous to international delegates interested in building ties with the Garden city’s IT companies. The eighth edition of this mega IT event turned into a washout this year and more importantly, was reduced to a platform to score political points. This begs the question: Has BangaloreIT.in become a white elephant? Or put it another way, does Bangalore need IT.in to reinforce its brand and woo investment to the city’s booming IT sector?

Eight years ago, the event made good business sense as it helped city-based companies get exposure and, more importantly, gave them a platform for business interaction. Consider the IT growth figures now. IT exports grew 52% last year touching $6.3 billion, accounting for one-third of the country’s total IT exports. Back in 1998, there were 680 IT companies and now the number has shot up to 1,584. Of these, 622 are MNCs, which contribute to around 25 per cent to the state’s GDP. Around 206 new IT companies came up in the state last year. The IT influx continues–since April 2005, 97 new IT companies (and still counting) set up shop in Karnataka.

Bangalore as a brand is a given fact today. What more proof than that the verb “Bangalored” which refers to the transfer of IT jobs from the US and UK to India.

But if this year’s pre-BangaloreIT.in developments are anything to go by, they have done nothing but dull the brand. Last month, around 135 companies threatened to boycott the event at the Dharam Singh Government’s perceived lack of interest in tackling infrastructure problems. The Karnataka Government and authorities stepped in and promised all short-term and long-term measures to manage infrastructure. Then came the Infosys chief mentor NR Narayana Murthy versus Janata Dal (Secular) national president Deve Gowda spat, resulting in the former resigning as chairman of the Bangalore International Airport Limited project.

If these weren’t enough, the rain gods stepped in to drown the city in a record deluge, which exposed the chinks, and gaping holes in Bangalore’s infrastructure.

BangaloreIT.in invoked a muted response this year. The trade show did not attract crowds, as it is wont to. The various conferences saw patchy and sparse attendance, and lacked the punch and substance of sessions of previous years.

The sole consolation this year was the record number of international trade delegations– around 20. For these visitors with business on their minds, how relevant is talk of political intrigue and posturing?

Another observation this year is that states like Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and others did their bit to woo potential investors from Karnataka to their states citing Karnataka’s poor infrastructure as a minus. So, why does Karnataka have to spend money from its ex-chequer to fund an event where competing states are trying to divert precious FDI away from Karnataka?

Though it would be impossible to get top executives of IT companies on record to say that IT.in has lost its significance, it is obvious that the big names in the IT business participate in the event merely to fulfill their duty as citizens of Bangalore.

Many participants who spoke to CyberMedia News said that they prefer a pure, focused B2B trade platform instead of a full-fledged jamboree that is also open to the general and not-so-serious visitors.

Some of the parallel events held during IT.in such as the Students Internet World and Rural IT quiz are good crowd-pullers. However, the moot question is whether they need the BangaloreIT.in umbrella to continue. Gowda was right in a way. Bangalore has hogged a lot of attention all this while. It is time for a pan-Indian show or alternatively a show to highlight other IT destinations in Karnataka like Hubli-Dharwad, Mysore and Mangalore, which could benefit from such an exposure.

Bangalore and Karnataka’s IT dream run can flourish without IT.in since most investors and companies interested in the state don’t come here only during BangaloreIT.in.

This stated, it remains to be seen whether the authorities and the industry would wake up to the reality that the event has outlasted its purpose-that of building the Bangalore brand-and gently kill it without much ado.

No Comments so fars

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.