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India's 3rd Internet Gateway : lack of vision plagues Tripura’s IT hopes
Saumen Sarker
India's 3rd Internet Gateway : lack of vision plagues Tripura’s IT hopes
PHOTO : Tripura Conclave Aug 6, 2015 : 'A visionary dialogue on roadmap for Tripura IT Industry' after Agartala's emergence as 3rd Internet gateway

Executive leadership in all progressive states always give first preference to overall economic development  so that influx of capital investments generate  industrialization, employments – a cascading effect  drives  economic growth.

For example, Andhra CM N. Chandrababu Naidu is no technocrat but he adapted technology into his positive thinking to develop Hyderabad  as India’s one of the largest IT hub, which in turn generated the largest revenue  collection in undivided AP.

After bifurcation of AP into Telengana and Andhra Pradesh,  Naidu lost Hyderabad to Telengana  but Andhra CM didn’t waste any time in planning to develop a new capital in Amaravati. In addition masterplan was drawn to develop the wide coastal corridor of Nellore-Vijawada-Visakhapatnam.

Global information technology leader Cisco on March 17, 2016  signed an MoU with the AP Government for setting up Internet of Everything (IoE) innovation centre. It will also set up Technology Center of Excellence and Research Lab in Tirupati focused on manufacturing and cyber security solutions. The agreement was signed as part of the inauguration of AP Fiber-Net in Visakhapatnam in the presence of Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Cisco executive chairman John Chambers, Cisco Asia Pacific & Japan president Irving Tan and Cisco India and SAARC president Dinesh Malkani. Cisco has collaborated with the state government to design and implement AP Fiber Net, the first statewide broadband project in India.

Bangladesh has leased its unused undersea fiber optic Internet bandwidth to India's state owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) for $ 1.2 million ( Rs 7.7 crores) a year.

The agreement will be for four years and India will gain 10 Gbps (gigabits per second) bandwidth in the first year with a provision for this to go up to 40 Gbps per second in the subsequent years. Modi led India’s plan is purchasing this surplus unused bandwidth from Bangladesh to develop the IT & ITES industry in Northeast.

Tripura is witnessing an era of enormous historic importance as India and Bangladesh are being led by two strong visionaries, who are determined to cement ties between both countries on strong footing to improve economic conditions, overall development of this backward region. Its a sheer luck of Tripura that Narendra Modi  is Indian Prime Minister and Sheikh Hasina is Bangladesh Premier at this crucial juncture of South Asian geo-politics and revival of economic blueprint fueled by mutual desire of both dynamic leaders.

In Tripura’s context, Narendra Modi led Indian Govt signed a pact with Bangladesh Govt  to use Global Fiber Optic connectivity via Cox-bazar to establish India’s 3rd Internet Gateway in Agartala which is scheduled to be inaugurated on March 23rd by Prime Ministers of India & Bangladesh via video conference .

Now the million dollar question is what Tripura Govt has done so far to utilize this golden opportunity???  No one knows the answer – but one thing is pretty clear that Tripura CM to IT Minister never spoke about IT or Internet Gateway in any public platforms or visited any IT companies in India or Bangladesh to initiate a dialogue for investments in IT Industry.

TIWN (Tripura InfoWay News) is the first entity in Tripura  to organize a conclave on ‘India’s 3rd Internet Gateway’ on August 6, 2015  by inviting Global experts like Hinduja group CIO to head of Taiwan Trade Mission to initiate policy dialogues, effective planning to utilize high bandwidth internet for establishment of IT Industry in Tripura.

On July 5, 2015 my interview was published in Bangladesh’s largest online news media with a headline “Tripura can be Bangladesh’s IT backyard” – where I said “hundreds of IT qualified engineers from Tripura and other parts of Northeast are flocking to India's big IT towns like Bangalore and Hyderabad every year.

"If Bangladesh IT companies set up shop here, these engineers will all remain behind and work at home. Also Indian companies which feel Northeast is far for them may get into joint ventures with Bangladesh companies to set up shop in Agartala. Agartala can be where Indian and Bangladesh IT industry can grow together."

A media or a private entity can not don the role of a State Government and replace its visionless leadership, even though Tripura employed a full time IT Secretary, Industry Secretary, huge Industry Dept and number of bureaucrats,  but key people lack acumen or guts to guide Chief Minister towards right direction to establish IT Industry in Tripura.

Tripura’s golden opportunity of transforming Agartala as IT Hub of NE India, a centre for India- Bangladesh IT co-operation is still a distant dream.

In my January’16 visit to Agartala, I spotted a news item in daily newspaper where a senior IAS officer of Tripura Govt commented, “IT is not for Tripura, IT has no scope in NE India”.

Its hard to imagine, how come a Govt servant with zero-technical background can comment on a subject which he has no clue ? Unfortunately, Tripura’s lackluster economic vision is being run by red-light totting IAS officials rather than political executives.

In India, wherever IAS officials lead any business or Industry – it generated massive losses because IAS officials lack vision, skillsets to run business, economy – whether its Air India with whooping Rs 40,000 crore loses or any Public Sector undertakings of mega size, story is same.

This audacity of glorified babus reminded me of former Chief Election Commissioner T N Seshan, once acidly coined a phrase "I Am Sorry" for abbreviation of IAS.

In other words, State’s economic future is bleak irrespective of few mega projects like OTPC Palatana or 3rd Internet Gateway, till the frozen minds of State executive embraces 21st century’s economic vision to develop Tripura.

Writer is Editor,, also a Global Network Engineering Architect based in New York  with 20+ yrs experience in Internetworking, Network Security Industry and previously worked at Global companies,  General Electric, Cisco Systems, Bank of New York, Merrill Lynch, NYC Govt,  NEC , Hewlett Packard. 

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