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A quiet start to India Mobile Congress 2019

Even Amit Shah, who was supposed to attend the inaugural session, and Nitin Gadkari gave the telecom department’s marquee event a miss.

ET Bureau|
Oct 14, 2019, 10.48 PM IST
Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at a stall during the inauguration of India Mobile Congress, in New Delhi.
NEW DELHI: The third edition of the India Mobile Congress reflected the downbeat mood of the telecom sector, with the first day marked by empty seats and the absence of Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Mittal and government luminaries.

Even home minister Amit Shah, who was supposed to attend the inaugural session, and road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari gave the telecom department’s marquee event a miss.

Government sources tried to downplay the absence of the top telecom industrialists, saying that Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Bharti Mittal had declined the invitation a month back.

Key representatives from Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, including Jio board member Mahendra Nahata, Bharti Enterprises vice chairman Rakesh Bharti Mittal and Vodafone Idea Chairman KM Birla, wore a serious expression on the dais. Soon after, they asked telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and telecom secretary Anshu Prakash for help in alleviating the financial stress in the sector and raised other issues.

Even as the exhibition stalls stayed largely empty, the government claimed the event was far bigger than in the previous year. The total area, said Prakash, was 60,000 square meters versus 35,000 sq. m last year and 500 companies participating this time compared with 200 last year. About 250 startups and 110 foreign buyers are also participating.

With over 25,000 registrations, a footfall of over 100,000 is expected by Wednesday for the three-day event, the government claimed. However, for the session right after the inaugural, organisers had to reduce the sitting space keeping in mind the far fewer number of people attending it.

The session that was chaired by Prasad himself was one of deep thoughts and insights into entrepreneurship, breaking away from the hardline topics on the sector.

The session had Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Lava International chairman Hari Om Rai and Snapdeal cofounder Kunal Bahl, besides the India heads of Xiaomi and OnePlus, Manu Jain and Vikas Aggarwal.

While Sharma quipped that he was questioned by his family on his ability to get a job when he told them of starting a company, Rai said, “If you're not failing, it means that you're in your comfort zone. To do something valuable, you'll have to step out of your comfort zone.”

Snapdeal’s Bahl had some pearls of wisdom to offer, coming from his own journey of highs and lows.

“Entrepreneurship is not easy. Knowing how to deal with failure is very critical. In the startup ecosystem, highs are very high and lows are very low – doesn’t mean you can’t come out of the lows. A setback is a good setup for comeback,” he said.

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India Mobile Congress: 'Simplification and security key to building networks of future'

Mukesh Ambani, Sunil Mittal to share dais at India Mobile Congress

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