India's Silicon Valley beckons Putin

Monday, 29 November 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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BANGALORE: India's Silicon Valley - as Bangalore's hi-tech industry is known - will roll out the red carpet for Russian President Vladimir Putin when he arrives here for a daylong visit later this week and showcase its advances in IT, defence and space.

Billed as one of the city's biggest events, Putin will arrive Saturday with a high profile delegation after his one-day visit to New Delhi.

In Bangalore, Putin will meet head honchos of IT majors, defence experts and space scientists, acquainting himself with the progress made by global IT majors like Infosys and Wipro, the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in their respective domains.

The visit will mark a new era of cooperation between the two countries, a top official said.

Over the last few years Bangalore has figured prominently in itineraries of several visiting heads of state, but it is for the first time that a Russian president has chosen to spend a day here for an account of developments taking place in high technology areas.

"Putin's forthcoming visit to Bangalore only confirms its global reputation as the world's fourth largest technology hub, with the country's largest skilled workforce in diverse areas such as software, biotechnology, aeronautics and space programs," a top government functionary told IANS.

In view of Putin's high-profile stature and attendant security concerns, Indian officials coordinating his trip are not forthcoming on the details of his hectic schedule that includes visits to Infosys campus, HAL complex and the ISRO satellite centre.

At Infosys, Putin will interact with its chairman and chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy and learn about the IT bellwether's global delivery model through a Powerpoint presentation.

"Putin will also take a buggy ride around Infosys' sprawling campus for a ringside view of its world class facilities. He is likely to plant a sapling in the campus to mark the visit," company sources hinted.

Putin's scheduled visit to HAL and ISRO are, however, shrouded in secrecy due to security reasons and confidentiality, maintained by the officials.

A day before Putin's arrival here Friday, a 20-member delegation of Russian Software Association (RUSSOFT) will meet their Indian counterparts to prepare the groundwork for partnerships in the IT sector, leveraging on their domain expertise.

"The interactive conference, being organised by the National Association of Software Services Companies (Nasscom) and Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), will explore investment opportunities and partnerships by Russian and Indian IT firms," STPI director B.V. Naidu disclosed.

The delegation, represented by corporate chiefs of Russian IT firms, will also visit some top Indian design and software development centres in and around the city for a first hand account of the progress made by them.

According to Nasscom president Kiran Karnik, the round-table conference with RUSSOFT will give an opportunity to assess each other's strengths for future collaborations.

"To work with the Russians will be an exciting business opportunity for the resurgent Indian IT industry. The interactive meet will exchange ideas and assess the expertise of both the countries for future partnerships," Karnik said, when asked about the significance of Putin's visit to Bangalore.

In the realm of space, Putin will check out ISRO's expertise in fabrication of multi-purpose satellites during his visit to its satellite centre.

Prior to his Bangalore trip, Putin is expected to sign in New Delhi an agreement for ISRO's participation in the ambitious Global Navigational Satellite System (GLONASS), a constellation of satellites to help military and civilian users track air, naval and ground traffic.

The US has already deployed the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite, while the European Union has planned a similar satellite-based navigation system, christened Galileo.

ISRO sources indicated that such a satellite-based navigation system would provide Russia and India an opportunity to vie for a slice of the $2 billion market pie.

"There's a plethora of navigation-based business in military and civilian sectors. We can build a satellite and launch it for GLONASS or put together a ground station.

"At a later stage, we can build the augmentation system (with expertise in software) for value-added products best suited for mobile telephony and other applications," the sources pointed out.

Source: IANS
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