Last night Cyber Media, the information-communication-technology (ICT) publishing house, celebrated its 20th anniversary and hosted the 10th Dataquest Awards ceremony. As evening descended, the air at the Ballroom of Grand Continental in Delhi, was pregnant with hope and anxiety. But once the awards were announced, the mood changed to one of celebration - with the joy of the winners overshadowing the disappointment of those who did not make it.
Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director of the Bharti Group of Companies, and the most visible telecom face in the fast-converging ICT space in India, was named the Dataquest IT Man of the Year for 2002. The Lifetime Achievement Award for the same period was conferred upon Sam Pitroda, CEO of WorldTel, and the acknowledged father of Indian rural telephony. The Pathbreaker Award 2002 went to Raman Roy, the man who has been instrumental in setting up the BPO operations of American Express, GE Capital and Spectramind in India.
The awardees were chosen by a panel of special judges - primarily IT industry chieftains and chief information officers (CIOs) from user enterprises - from a shortlist prepared by and deliberated over at the panel meeting. The special Dataquest panel comprised the Union Minister for IT and Telecom Pramod Mahajan (the chairman of the panel), HDFC Bank's IT head CN Ram, MphasiS BFL founder and CEO Jerry Rao, Wipro Infotech president Suresh Vaswani, IBM India CEO Abraham Thomas, Samtel chairman Satish Kaura, Microsoft India head Rajiv Nair, Nasscom president Kiran Karnik, Cyber Media managing director Pradeep Gupta and Cyber Publications' editor-in-chief Shyam Malhotra.
According to the special Dataquest panel that announced the awards, "Forty-five-year old (Sunil) Mittal - India's telecom price warrior - single-handedly managed to bring down the abnormally high phone tariffs in the country … In the cellular telephony space, Mittal's flagship service - Airtel - led the price wars. By the year-end, lower STD, ISD and cellular rates had changed the face of telephony in India, fuelling furious growth in subscriber base."
The year 2002 belonged to Mittal for another achievement - one that largely went unsung, the panel concluded. "At a time when regional security concerns placed a question mark over India's emergence as the hub for IT services and BPO operations, Mittal put in place the country's first submarine cable link - a $650-million undersea line connecting Chennai and Singapore. Once lit, the link will totally de-risk Indian IT and communications links with the rest of the world, for the cable totally bypasses strife-ridden geographies."
While the announcing the unanimous choice of WorldTel chief Sam Pitroda for the Lifetime Achievement award, the panel noted, "He visualised a countrywide network of thousands of phone booths to provide this access. He battled conventional wisdom and lobbies that questioned why impoverished people needed telecom. The basic technology behind this network was simple and cheap. Created by Pitroda's team at C-DoT, which he founded in 1984, it was a device that displayed the phone call cost and generated an instant bill at the user's end, instead of at the telephone exchange. This changed Indian telephony. In revolutionising the state of telecom in India, he also created a model for other developing nations."
On Raman Roy's choice as the Pathbreaker Award-winner for 2002, the panel said, "Forty five year-old Raman Roy is widely regarded as the pioneer and guru of the IT-enabled services business in India, having played a pivotal role in proving the country's stature as a locale for remote processing. He has successfully delivered servicing solutions from India and has led the Indian operations of the two top players in this arena - GE Capital and American Express. In the process, he has been instrumental in creating over 20,000 jobs in India." Â© 2002 agencyfaqs!First Published : December 21, 2002