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Major personalities from both government, industry skip India Mobile Congress 2019

Amidst all talks of connected devices, 5G and future technologies, the three-day India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2019, that kicked-off on Monday, was a damp squib as the chief guest Home Minister Amit Shah and the top honchos of the industry Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Jio and Sunil Bharti Mittal of Bharti Airtel skipped the event.

The industry expected the Home Minister to make key announcements regarding the use of 5G at this meet. He was scheduled to speak for around 20 minutes at the inaugural session.

The Home Minister is also the head of various Groups of Ministers who are looking into several issues with regards to the industry, including the revival of Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL).

Sources from the industry told BusinessLine that Shah had to drop the plan at the last moment. They also said that Mittal was out of country, and Ambani also had to drop it at the last hour. Only Kumar Mangalam Birla (Vodafone-Idea) participated at the inaugural session, sharing the dais with Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Not only that,Isha and Akash Ambani and Kavin Mittal did not attend an event that was was specially organised for them. They were scheduled to atted a session named‘Leaders of Next Generation’. Azim Premji’s son Rishad Premji and Kumar Mangalam Birla’s daughter Ananya Birla, who were also part of this brainstorming session, also skipped the event.

Only a rest few including Manu Kumar Jain of Xiaomi, Vijay Shekhar Sharma of Paytm and Kunal Bahl of Snapdeal (to fill the dais at last moment) were there for this session.

Not only these faces from the industry, key speakers from the government’s side also decided skipping the event. This list includes Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, and Minister of Railways and Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal.

Gadkari who was supposed to speak on the topic ‘Transportation Transformation: Cars as Connected Platform’.

Sources also said Goyal who was going to be the Chief Guest on the second day of the event, was also unlikely to attend, as he has an another event to attend at the same time.

K Sivan, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), who was also supposed to be there at the inaugural session for a ‘special announcement on 5G’, also skipped the event.

Not only the key persons, but some of the major companies also did not participate at the IMC 2019. This includes Korean telecom equipment major Samsung, which was also a major sponsor of the event spending more than ₹1 crore at the event till last year.

Increased participation

This year, the major sponsors were Ericsson (which spent around ₹1.50-2 crore on the event) and Huawei (around ₹90 lakh), apart from various operators including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone-Idea spending lakhs in sponsoring the event.

However, in terms of growth, the total area of the IMC has grown to 60,000 sq metres against 35,000 sq metres last time, and the number of participants has gone up to 500, against 200 last year. Also, around 250 start-ups are a part of the exhibition.

“The list of participants has been growing, and we are getting a lot of traction even from MNC companies and overseas buyers. As far as some ministers or corporate leaders are concerned, some of them are travelling, though they have sent their representatives. We are confident that the event will grow from here,” Rajan Mathews, Director General of Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI), said.

COAI is the main organiser of this Indian version of Mobile World Congress (MWC), which is held every year in Barcelona, Spain.

Source: The Hindu