Indian Mobile Congress is being dubbed as the showcase event for Indian telecom industry. But ironically its organisers have failed to involve Indian mobile and equipment manufacturers. All top European and American players will share the dais, even the top executives of Chinese giants — Huawei and ZTE — will have something to share, but there’s no opportunity for the Indian manufacturers to share their thoughts. Moreover, there is no mention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s major initiative — Make in India — at the global event…

Call it irony of sorts, Indian mobile and domestic telecom equipment manufacturers have failed to find a place in the scheme of things at the India Mobile Congress (IMC) starting September 27, 2017 at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. And all this is happening despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call of giving a push to domestic manufacturing and promote ‘Make In India’ products in India and abroad.

Dubbed as Indian version of popular global telecom event — Mobile World Congress — which is held every year at Barcelona, organisers of IMC — mainly the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) — has conveniently ignored all leading Indian mobile manufacturers as well as equipment-makers, while all sessions have been dominated by foreign players like Ericcson, Nokia, Google, Deloitte,IBM, Accenture, Qualcomm, Facebook, Huawei, Cisco, ZTE, HMD, Media Tek et al.

It seems that the two key ministries — Telecom and Electronics & IT — who are actively involved in organising the IMC have also failed to notice this anomaly. So much so that even the Telecom Export Promotion Council (TEPC) and Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association (TEMA) finds no mention in the detailed list events of three-day mega show.

If sources in the government are to be believed, voices of dissent from the Indian industry have already reached those sitting in the corridors of powers. The detailed list of programmes which includes various sessions, not a single Indian domestic mobile manufacturer has been included, like Micromax, Spice, Videocon, Lava, Karbonn, Intex. Similarly, names of equipment manufacturers like Tejas, VNL are also missing.

Meanwhile, in a major setback for the IMC organisers, President Ram Nath Kovind will not be coming to inaugurate the prestigious global event. Now Ministers in charge of Telecom and Electronics & IT, Manoj Sinha and Ravi Shankar Prasad, will do the honours.

Why Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not requested to open the global event of this scale is anybody’s guess. But gossip doing the rounds is that since honchos of warring factions of top mobile players — namely Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Jio, Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel and Kumar Mangalam Birla of Idea Cellular — are scheduled to share the dais, any one of them raising any unpleasant questions over the prevailing scenario in the telecom sector could have made the Prime Minister uncomfortable, hence this strategy!

Following entry of Reliance Jio in the market late last year, revenues of cellular market have declined. While incumbents — Airtel, Vodafone and Idea — blame the new entrant for the bloodbath, latter accuses the three major players of unfair competition. Now these players are literally at war, which has further intensified following the order of TRAI steeply cutting Interconnect Usage Charge or IUC which is further going to hurt the incumbents.


Mounds of mud and filth lying around expose readiness for IMC

Another goof up that the organisers may have committed is related to preparedness at the venue — Pragati Maidan. Outside the sprawling venue, mounds of mud and filth could be seen at footpaths and green patches right outside the main entrance gate of the venue, while filth is lying all around. Another issue of concern could be safety issues as Pragati Maidan is under major renovation and fire safety and disaster related issues could cause problems.

While comparing IMC with two top global telecom events — World Mobile Congress at Barcelona and Shanghai — the organisers might not stand anywhere near their counterparts when it comes to organising events meeting global benchmarks. With many foreign delegates likely to attend IMC, India organisers not meeting global standards of such events could lead to failing of entire exercise.

Scenes inside and outside Pragati Maidan

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