The goal of this seminar series e-Connecting North East is to promote healthy development of Internet in North East part of India and make it an active part of the world internet community. The seminar in Guwahati was the first of the series of seminars on this subject being organized by Internet Society Kolkata Chapter with the help of FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry) North East Council, National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) & ISPAI.
The Guwahati seminar started with a welcome Note by Mr. Biswajit Chakrabarty, Head FICCI North East Council, welcome note from Mr.Shyamkanu Mahanta, Chair, Subcommittee on infrastructure, FICCI, North East Advisory Council, opening remarks from Anupam Agrawal, Chair, Internet Society Kolkata Chapter and Mr. Anurag Goel, Secretary IT, Government of Assam. A session on Domain Awareness and case study presentation on enabling ebusiness in North East by Mr, Anand Raje, Director Basis Technology & Mr. Trideep Baruah was followed by a panel discussion formed on a multi-stakeholder approach. The panelists included Prof. Sinha, HOD Computer Science, Tezpur University Mr. Mukand Pujari from State IT department, Mr, Anand Raje, and Snehasish Ghosh, business associate with NiXi.
A portal http://www.econnectnortheast.in was launched to provide a platform for the business and Internet user of North East to discuss, conduct surveys and becoming an ecommerce gateway for the people of North East. ISOC Kolkata will collect the response and agreed to do a semantic analysis and provide periodic report to Govt. of Assam.
The key feedback and interactions during the seminar which saw more than 150 participants have been synthesized for future actions.
• Bandwidth availability is the key and require special focus and with Mr. Anurag Goel (Secretary – IT) mentioning the work being done on Cox Bazar Internet link, the participants felt at ease as it rekindled the hope.
• The banking industry is taking a hit because of frequent outages. SBI representatives mentioned that 10% of their 720 branches in North East are out at any given point of time. This is creating trust issue in the new banking system and a bottleneck for financial inclusion initiatives. The bandwidth providers do rationing and Hughes Telecom was named as the worst.
• Understand from NiXi website that there is Internet Exchange Equipment lying but no one peers. It can be used.
• Formation of Guwahati Chapter of ISOC.
• A group of young local entrepreneurs running an ISP were looking for creating a wireless mesh network and have identified a 45 Sq. KM area in North Guwahati. They were looking for technical hand holding which ISOC Kolkata has agreed to through their volunteer work force.
• While Local Content availability is an issue but Assamese not being a Unicode compliant language is the bottle neck.
• SME Is the IT Industry segment in Assam and availability of specific policy for micro IT companies will be helpful.
• The possibility of incubation centers for research projects can be helpful considering the number of colleges and intellectual capital of the region.
While there are efforts for increasing connectivity on infrastructure side, effort is required towards creating triggers for increasing demand of online services. In this respect, semantic analysis of the feedback on portal will be done periodically and submitted as an input document to government, besides there is a massive requirement of awareness campaign of available online citizen services and business benefits.
Event Photographs are here.