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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ascent of the East

PURVODAYA, the first national level conclave hosted by any IIT, took place on the 7th and 8th of April at IIT Kharagpur. The conclave was conceived by the Vinod Gupta School of Management (VGSOM), with the objective of providing ideas for the development of Eastern India, in partnership with the Steel Authority of India Limited, with Era Group and The Times of India as the associate partners.

The conclave was inaugurated by the Director of IIT Kharagpur, Prof S. K. Dube, with the director (Personnel) of SAIL, Mr. G. Ojha as the chief guest. The occasion was also graced by Prof. G S Sanyal, the “Bhishma Pitama” of IIT Kharagpur, who has been involved with IIT Kharagpur since its very inception.

During the 2 day conclave several luminaries representing the government and the industry spoke on diverse subjects, from Mining and Manufacturing to the challenges faced in developing the Services Sector in Eastern India. These included Mr. Sethuraman Sivaram, Director, Deloitte,Mr. B D Mundhra, Chairman and Managing Director, Simplex Infrastructure limited, Prof. Prakash Apte, Director, IIM Bangalore, along with Mr Sunil Mitra, the Principal Secretary, Power, from the West Bengal government. These were some of the eminent personalities and experts who each delivered their vision of the future of Eastern India. The entire conclave was conceived and executed entirely by the students of Vinod Gupta School of Management in order to stimulate the ideas of the student community that is going to carry out the plans of today tomorrow.

During the discussion on MINING, a broad agreement was reached on the importance of keeping mining and the subsidiary manufacturing industries close to each other to create value, rather than merely exporting commodities. The quantum of the investment that was expected in the Eastern states was pointed out, with the commitments of both foreign and domestic investments in the mining industry being laid out. The ex-CEO of Mittal Steel Kazakhstan, Mr. N K Choudhary drew attention to the quality of ore deemed exploitable, and demanded higher efficiencies in ore extraction, along with utilization of a lower quality ore.

This was followed by the Panel Discussion “MANTHAN”, where Prof. Prakash Apte, Director IIM Bangalore pointed out the dichotomy of providing higher education subsidies while primary education across the country continues to languish. He recommended a market based solution to this problem, with opening up of the higher education sector, while providing targeted subsidies to primary education in the country, especially for rural India. Mr. Hota, ex-CMD of IDCO, mooted an ambitious plan to develop a coastal infrastructure of ports stretching from West Bengal to North Andhra Pradesh, which would be connected to the hinterlands of Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar by speedy rail transportation. These would lead a paradigm shift in the evolution of Eastern India’s development.

The INFRASTRUCTURE SESSION saw Mr. Sunil Mitra, the Principal Secretary for Power from the West Bengal government outlining the power sector reforms that are currently proceeding apace. He pointed out the success of this programme, which has led to profits being generated by the Public Power Sector, as a perfect example of the Ascent of a resurgent east, which has gone almost unnoticed by either the media or general public. These efforts in public reforms are not given wide publicity, but are tremendously effective. The development of other social infrastructure, including the lack of adequate educational infrastructure was lamented, and a suggestion was made to set up more quality ITI’s where the workers that would drive India’s manufacturing sector could be trained.

The session on the growth of the SERVICE SECTOR was clearly dominated by the discussion on the differentiators that led to the emergence of Eastern India, and Kolkata as an alternative for the major companies to set up offices there. A point was made about the lower cost of land and quality labour, with institutes such as ISI and Jadavpur University, but the future availability of talent was again noted with concern.

The session on SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT also pointed out the need to bring the fruits of development down to every individual, while at the same time, ensuring that this security could be ensured for the coming generations as well.

In Parallel, there were also the case study and Paper Presentation on TOURISM DEVELOPMENT as well as LAND ACQUISITION POLICY. Innovative plans and solutions were given by students from all over the country over these emerging sectors and challenges.

In his concluding speech, Prof. Probir K Gupta, Dean of the Vinod Gupta School of Management summarised the conclusions of the conclave, with a special emphasis on the need for inclusive development, and the need for every individual to draw upon his or her skills to make their own dreams come true to bring development to the east. It is this expression of individual desire that will bring Purvodaya, a new dawn indeed for Eastern India.



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