Gujarat fights image at BangaloreIT.Com

Wednesday, 30 October 2002, 08:00 Hrs
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BANGALORE: The impressive figures are all there for every visitor to see, but it is the image of Gujarat that the state officials are finding hard to fight at the BangaloreIT.com2002, Asia's largest IT event.

Last year, visitors flocked to the Gujarat stall and made keen enquiries of investment possibilities in one of India's most industrialized states.

In the current show visitors are trickling in to the striking saffron and green stall, listening to the sales pitch made by officials and moving on to other stalls.

Gujarat's science and technology secretary Rajesh Kishore says: "People are coming and making enquiries this year too. And they are not asking too much about the riots. We were pleasantly surprised."

But he and his colleagues admit "selling Gujarat" as an IT destination after the February-May violence that claimed at least 1,000 lives has been a tough task, more so because the sector has also been in a slump over the past year.

Kishore says: "Ahmedabad's image is not among the highest in the country today. But in terms of infrastructure, talent pool and all other parameters for IT and IT-enabled services, we are better placed than some of the other states."

Gujarat has one of the biggest IT-based networks in the Asia Pacific region, connecting all 25 districts and 225 blocks of the state and mobile V-Sat facilities all over.

"In infrastructure, we are even better than Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka," adds Narender Singh Khaira, director, software and applications, of the state-owned Gujarat Informatics Ltd.

The western state has a share of 6.21 percent in India's gross domestic product (GDP), contributes 35 percent to its exports and has a 30 percent share in its stock market capitalisation.

But its image took a terrible beating after the violence in the state, particularly in Ahmedabad city.

"It's a bit of a difficult task to market Gujarat in Bangalore which markets itself. It is also a difficult time because of all that the IT sector itself has gone through," says Kishore.

"We have 8 to 10 good call centers. Their operations were unaffected by all that happened during the violence." he said

"Today in Ahmedabad you cannot get the feeling that it was a city that saw riots some months ago. There may be pockets of insecurity in the state capital, but not all over the city."

Khaira says: "Everybody knows the healing process is on. It's a question of time."

Asked when this image would change for the better, officials are hesitant to answer.

Source: IANS
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