Thursday, January 07, 2016

Sam Pitroda is new tech advisor to Odisha govt; Will he put together a team of non-bureaucrats once more?

NOTED telecom guru and inventor Sam Pitroda on Wednesday was appointed as technical advisor to Odisha government. The man who has immense contribution in India's telecom revolution from late 1980s onward, is now expected to play a key role in making Odisha, currently a laggard in IT and telecom, a front-runner, as the state turns 100 years in 2036. Pitroda is expected to anchor the preparation of the state’s Vision 2036, according to the press statement issued by the state chief minister’s office. But keeping in mind Pitroda’s earlier innings, it can safely be assumed that he won’t bank on bureaucrats much, but will cobble together a team of technocrats comprising…
foreign educated men and women who have earlier worked with him. Pitroda was born at Titilagarh in Balangir district of Odisha in 1942, and despite being in US for many years, he kept in touch with the state all throughout. He will be given the rank of a cabinet minister, the statement further said.
“Pitroda, known for his characteristic bureaucrat-bashing, has roped in a slim and sophisticated non-bureaucrat team…(Nandan) Nilekani on his part has heavily banked on IAS and other Group A service officers to make his UID mission a success like his Infosys innings”, BoI wrote in a post titled “Nilekani’s UID team Vs Sam Pitroda’s bureaucrat-less innovative agenda” dated January 16, 2012.
Pitroda’s associates in UPA-II included Cambridge-educated Sukhman Randhawa (interned at BBC and the Penguin Group in London), Mitakshara Kumari (graduated from UK's University of Sussex and worked with European Union at Brussels), Rahul Nayar (M.Phil in technology policy at Cambridge), Vikas Bagri (a part of initiating a rural BPO) etc. Pitroda was then an advisor to former PM Manmohan Singh on public information infrastructure and innovation, mainly to help democratize information.
In UPA-I, he headed the National Knowledge Commission.
But, Pitroda’s association with the government dated back to early 1980s when he gave a presentation to the then PM Indira Gandhi. Later, he launched the Center for the Development of Telematics (C-DOT), and served as advisor to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He was the first chairman of India’s Telecom Commission.

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