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'IMC Will Not Only Bring Investment But Job Opportunities As Well'

India will have 60-65 per cent of financial transactions done by mobile devices by 2017. So, it is imperative that Indian enterprises should be fully prepared to mitigate security risks

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Union Minister for Communications Manoj Sinha announced that India Mobile Congress 2017 (IMC 2017) will be held as a three-day event from 27 to 29 September, 2017 in New Delhi. This is the first time India is all set to host its own mobile mega show. In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, P Ramakrishna, CEO, India Mobile Congress, speaks about disrupt in telecom sector, recent cyber-attacks, Digital India, e-governance and more. Edited excerpts:

How do you wish to attract investors through India Mobile Congress (IMC) event at a time when telecom sector is witnessing a disruption?

India is world’s second largest telecom market in terms of number of subscribers and mobile handsets users with over 1000 million mobile users and over 200 million broadband users. But till date, we do not have a platform in India like the World Mobile Congress (held in February every year at Barcelona, Spain and later this month at Shanghai), where global industry stakeholders meet.

This is for the first time that we would be holding such a mega-event where domestic and global industry players are participating in the event. India’s telecom market has immense potential for domestic and global players.

Global and Indian telecom companies, IT and technology companies, phone manufacturers, start-ups and other equipment manufacturers besides representatives from the Indian government like DRDO, Aadhaar and companies under the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will be participating at the IMC event.

All big players like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Reliance Jio, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, Facebook, Google, Cisco, Mediatek, SAP, TCS, have confirmed their presence. Additionally, companies working on Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will also be present.

Over 300 exhibitors, 5,000 global delegates, 1,000 home grown start-ups have confirmed their presence at the IMC. We expect over 30 million footfalls during the three-day mega event. We have specially invited delegates from Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar for the event.

At the same time, to promote Digital India and Make in India initiatives, the Indian government has also written to several technologies based company CEOs to invest in India. US, United Kingdom, Japan, Israel, South Korea, France, Canada, Sweden, Bhutan, Finland and the European Union have confirmed participation and will be sending delegations. These efforts will help in the further growth of telecom sector in India, as many investors globally are interested in putting up their projects in India but are unable to get a right platform.

How Information and Communication Technology (ICT) will bring change in the lives of Indian middle class in the near future? 

Over half of the country’s population of 1.3 billion is middle class. This is the segment which is the biggest consumer of digital devices and technologies. The Indian government is pushing for digital inclusion with an emphasis on ensuring more citizens can be brought into the communication network to narrow the digital divide. Earlier, technology has helped the middle class save time. They would be able to further empower themselves in line with the digital revolution which India is going through. There will be more job opportunities that will provide them exposure to various technology-driven work, help them add wealth and enhance quality life. This will drive India’s economic growth and create a larger pool of skilled population for the country.

How does IMC plan to make ICT more accessible? 

The motive of IMC is to showcase India as a global ICT super power. The mega event will bring in more investments in India as we mentioned that techno-based global companies would be participating in the event in large numbers. This would also help the government’s move for make-in India initiative and digital penetration across the country.

The Indian government is very keen on having one such global ICT event. This would unfold a lot of activities in the telecom sector and that would further make ICT accessible to all sections of the population. ICT can significantly impact lives of India’s population as it will facilitate access to services available to them and allowing them to handle a range of activities independently besides enhancing their participation in economic social, cultural, political areas. The government has already planned Accessible India Campaign, which aims at achieving universal accessibility for all citizens and creating an enabling environment.

In the wake of recent cyber-attacks, how technology can be made more immune to such threats?

India has escaped the worst of WannaCry, the ransomware that affected Windows-based computer systems across the globe. Whenever there is a scare, we are in a defensive mode. This becomes even more serious and relevant to India, which stands third when it comes to online security breaches. Owing to these escalating threats, proactive security monitoring capability is critical for organizations and regardless of the sector or industry, all preventative measures must be taken to ensure business doesn’t fall victim to such attacks.

Organisations must invest more to upgrade in software-updates and patch-management besides giving up pirated software and organisations in case they are using it. According to a study, conducted by Ernest and Young, India will have 60-65 per cent of financial transactions done by mobile devices by 2017. So, it is imperative that Indian enterprises should be fully prepared to mitigate such security risks.

How does IMC plan to lend its support to Narendra Modi's ambitious Digital India programme?

The government is very keen to make IMC an annual affair. With this event, where multiple global industry stakeholders will participate and with more investment expected, it would further pave way for the government to further push its ambitious Digital India programme. This is just one such effort from us.

The Indian industry is already engaged with the Indian government to offer Wi-Fi, broadband and other telecom services to the nook and corners of the country. This will help government’s vision for digital inclusion and help it driving economic and social revolution besides helping people to communicate digitally through their mobile devices for accessing various government services.

Since India is witnessing low job creation, how can IMC help better the scenario?

With hundreds of global companies participating at IMC event, we are sure that many of them would come and invest in India. This will help in creating more jobs. In addition to this, we will be having over 1000 start-ups at the event. The IMC has partnered with Nasscom and Deloitte to help Indian start-ups for the event. These start-ups will get a platform to expand and set-up their businesses in India. This, in turn, would again create additional job opportunities.

Besides this, we are focusing on active participation of four key states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and 10 smaller states which can be benefited in terms of fresh investments and setting up of manufacturing plants. Chief Ministers of many of these states are also expected to participate in IMC. This too would help in developing more technology based projects across the country and add value to creating jobs.

We are also planning to create a 500-metre long ‘smart street’ showcasing ‘smart technologies’. The idea is to showcase how a Smart City, a flagship project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will look like when it finally takes shape. It will have smart traffic signals, smart street lights, drones giving live updates, smart parking solutions, smart kiosks delivering various government services. This project will grab major attention. As companies come in these infra project, it would automatically create more jobs.

The incumbent government has taken e-governance seriously, how does IMC wish to support that?

As the mega event, IMC will gather lot of steam and help in expanding telecom and technology based infra projects in India this would further give push to e-governance, which is an application of ICT for delivering government services, exchange of information, transactions and integration of many services between government-to-customer, government-to-business, government-to-government and support systems, processes and interactions within the government framework. More people benefit from the telecom and technology revolution India is going through and platform like IMC will further give wings to Narendra Modi’s government big push to e-governance.