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|April 7, 1999||
This year the theme at the Confederation of Indian Industry's annual session in Bombay is 'A time to dream'.
And the man who did the most profound dreaming there was perhaps Sam Pitroda, chairperson and CEO of WorldTel.
In his presentation on 'Leapfrogging - Telecom and the Internet' he spoke of his vision of what communications technology could do to India.
He spoke of e-commerce, not just in cities like Bombay but in the villages too. He spoke of the Internet in places that are just about adjusting to life with telephones. He spoke of the aspiration deficit that nations like India are often accused of.
But, suspiciously, for some of us, his lecture began to sound like a pitch for the 'Internet community centres' that he has been selling Indian states.
Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have already bought into his ICC concept. Maharashtra is expected to sign a memorandum in a few days.
There is a view in the industry that Pitroda missed the ISP bus in India and is now squeezing his way in by working with the government. Worse, many believe what he is proposing may not be doable.
After his CII speech, Priya Ganapati cornered Pitroda, offering him an opportunity to confront the doubting Thomases.
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