Eminent Personality

e-Governance to Empower Citizens

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“The State of Jharkhand will soon have a new IT policy to encourage IT industry in the state,” believes N N Sinha. In conversation with Kartik Sharma & Souvik Goswami

Please tell us about your view on the IT Policy of Jharkhand and also about the basic objectives of the IT policy?
The IT policy of the Jharkhand Government aims to promote use of IT in the governance of the state. It also aims to promote IT literacy among the Jharkhand population and it also aims to encourage the IT industry in the state.

What will be the vision of the new IT policy? Will it be focusing more on e-governance or focus will be more on promoting IT industry?
I think both have to come together. Because the e-governance cannot succeed in a vacuum as it needs people from IT industry. Industry by its very nature has to be very competitive. Therefore, they are aware of the latest trends and technologies and when these are applied to the e-governance field, then better services and products can be offered to the general population. So, we see e-governance and IT industry not as separate streams. We see them as two streams complementing each otheregovernance’s needs drive IT industry and IT industry, technologies and competencies drive the e-governance.

Please tell us about your plan to create IT Technology Park.
We have a small STPI unit in Ranchi. We have also requested the STPI to increase the capacity in Ranchi as we are aware that there is a great demand, however there is not enough pace in the present establishment. We are also trying to bring other STPI units in the cities of Adityapur near Jamshedpur and Sindhri near Dhanbad, in Bokaro and Deoghar. So, our goal is to also promote other cities of the state for IT industry.

Have you taken any feedback from the IT industry about what kind of requirements they want to set up IT industry in the state?
We have the IT industry which is at a nascent stage. So, possibly not much feedback has come. We have a software technology park, 2 to 3 BPO industries. Essentially not much feedback has been taken. But we are also in the process of revising the IT policy in line with whatever has been done by other states. Our IT policy was formulated in 2004 and now we are in 2014. State’s new Industrial Policy was announced in 2013. This policy includes the revise set of incentives for setting up industries. But we are also aware that lot has happened in the last 10 years in terms of technology, in terms of competitive incentives given by other states. Therefore, we need to have a relook at the IT policy of the state and we are in the process of doing so. We will soon be coming out with the new IT policy may be in 3 to 6 months time.

IT Park is all set to come up in Ranchi. Please elaborate on this.
We are working with the agency promoting the Ranchi Core Capital area to develop an IT Park and it will be built up in 200 acres of land. The land is already available with the government.

Jharkhand Industrial Policy (2012) Section: Information Technology

 State Government will encourage mega investors in IT / ITES for setting up IT industries, IT parks, IT SEZ in private sector or under PPP mode.
The objective of IT policy is to
(a) provide congenial and industry-friendly atmosphere for the establishment and growth of IT companies for providing IT-services (hardware / software based) and IT-enabled services (call centering, medical transcription, BPO etc),
(b) Generate employment opportunities for the educated youth of the State,
(c) Exploit export potential of this sector for augmenting GSDP of the State,
(d) Bringing IT to masses and accelerating its uses for socio-economic development.
It has potential to generate large-scale employment by using less land mass. The employment generation on per 100 lakh investment is among the highest in industry besides it causes almost zero environmental pollution.(a) IT industries will be accorded priority in allotment of land by IADA.
(b) In case of land allotment by IADA, mega IT units will be allowed deferred payment of land value i.e. payment of land value by such units will be allowed in five equal installments spread over five years.Motor Vehicles Act will be amended to enable the IT Companies to make use of hired privately owned omnibuses etc to transport their employees between their residence and work place.
Alternate Source of Power Generation 53 IT-ITES units with 5 KVA power requirements can be set up anywhere in the state.

FAR relaxation:

50% more FAR over and above to permissible FAR of the place will be allowed by the concerned Authority / Urban Local Bodies for IT-ITES units in earmarked areas IT Parks / STPs in consonance with other provisions of the prevailing Building Bye-laws. Necessary amendment, if required, will be done by concerned Authority / Urban Local Bodies with requisite permission of the Department of Urban Development.

Following special incentives will be allowed for the IT industry:
(i) Exemption from No Objection Certificate (NOC clearance) of JSPCB.
(ii) Exemption from zoning regulations for purposes of location. (iii) Self-certification for purposes of compliance of the following Acts:
(a) Factories Act.
(b) Employment Exchange (Notification of vacancies) Act.
(c) Payment of Wages Act. (d) Minimum Wages Act.
(e) Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act 55.
(f) Workmen Compensation Act.
(g) Shops and Establishments Act.

What kind of policy are you pursuing to provide incentives to private companies who can come here and set up their bases?
Our Industrial Policy lists the incentives that could be provided to the IT industry and then our IT Policy also lists some. So, by taking these two together, we will provide you complete list of incentives. As we are on the verge of revising our IT Policy, we will also look at what is being offered by the nearby states and in other parts of the country. We have to look at what is being offered elsewhere and then have to balance the attractions of other places with what we are offering.
Let me also point out that this place has some unique advantages. Climate is really good. Generally it is peaceful. Then comes education and level of school education is really good here as there are lot of English medium schools. Apart from these, many technical education institutions are coming up and we also have a plan of setting up IIIT in the state. Therefore we feel that we can offer large numbers of incentives to the industry people to set up their business here.
I would also like to mention that large number of students from the state goes to other parts of the country for studying information technology and related areas. If industry offers them placement with competitive salaries, I think many people will again come back to the state.

Any plan of distribution of laptops or devices to the students?
Initially government was thinking in this line a year ago. But with the change of regime this thing could not be taken up. Now the new government of the state is thinking that it will make its workforce more productive by providing computing equipments. It is already on cards. By this we would like to make all offices provide services through online manner to the maximum possible extent as well as to acquire data from the field.

What kind of IT industry would you think would be most suitable in the initial stage?
On the other hand, India is not doing that good in electronics manufacturing and DeitY is also planning to push this more. So, do you also plan to do something in this sector?
I would tend to feel that a very radical departure from the pattern of industrialization will be difficult to visualize. Therefore, by and large, the pattern of IT industry being set up in other emerging states would also be happening here. But there are some areas where there would be some initial push, like we have almost universal AADHAR coverage and industries who want to take benefit of this could come up. BPOs could also be interested as there are good quality English medium schools. IT industry which focuses on harnessing the power of natural resources, they can also come up. Mining is a major area where companies can come. We already have organizations like MECON, CMPDI and R & D units of SAIL.

Jharkhand IT Policy (2004)

Investment promotion & incentives

State Government proposes to provide incentives necessary to foster rapid growth of the industry. Incentives to the IT industry will be provided to ensure conditions conducive to its establishment and sustained growth in the State. Simplification of procedures for compliance with various regulatory Acts and Rules will be undertaken. For creating an investor friendly environment in the State, the Government will ensure the following:

Logistics & infrastructure related incentives

• Preferential allotment of land for IT industry by development authorities.
• Continuous and uninterrupted power supply for IT industries by providing a dedicated feeder for IT parks/ Locations. Captive power generation in IT locations.
• Special efforts will be made to develop high quality social infrastructure like schools, housing, health and entertainment/leisure facilities in IT locations.
• To create a pool of highly qualified professional for use of IT industry, State help will be provided to software companies to set up shop in Jharkhand.
• Internal arrangement will be made for obtaining easy clearance and approvals from various government departments.

Having regard to the Government’s responsibility envisaged in the Acts and regulations mentioned below, the Government permits self-certification to IT companies for the following:

• Payment of Wages Act
• Minimum Wages Act
• Contract Labour Act
• Workmen’s Compensation Act
• Employees State Insurance Act
• Shops and Commercial Establishments Act
• Payment of Gratuity Act
• Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act
• Maternity Benefits Act
• Water and Air Pollution Act
• There will be one Common Application form for setting up of IT unit in the state. The Single Window System setup for private investment proposals shall be applicable on IT proposals.
Data protection: The state intends to define a data protection act (this will lay out the nature of information protected under the law, set up a regulatory authority to ensure enforcement, declare penalties for violation, etc.) to help both IT and ITeS companies provide additional comfort to their customers.
IT security: The state government is committed to initiating legal proceedings against people compromising the security of government databases (i.e., hacking into government databases) and supporting aggrieved companies in initiating proceedings in similar offences against company databases.
Anti-piracy measures: The government will set up an anti-piracy cell to review serious piracy cases and initiate appropriate action. The mandate of the e-governance committee will be extended to include steps to increase awareness of anti-piracy measures in various departments and initiate the move towards setting up of compliance infrastructure.

Investment & fiscal incentives:

• Creation of Venture Capital Fund with State Government/ Private Enterprises/SIDBI and others for I.T. Industry. Special financing packages will be developed by the State Financial Agencies to fulfill the unique needs of the IT sector.
• All software industries including Services and Training Institutions in IT will be entitled to “Industry” status. Such units shall be eligible for all concessions and incentives applicable to Industries. For the purpose of this clause, accredited Training Institutions will also be eligible to claim industry status, subject to certain norms which will enable them to obtain Term Loans and Bank Finance at industry rates.
• Special financing packages will be developed by the State Financial Agencies to fulfill the unique needs of the IT sector. The FIs will provide term loans and equity on priority.
• The rate of sales tax on computer software shall not be fixed above the Uniform Floor Rate announced by the state Government.
• The rate of sales tax on computer hardware including all additional taxes shall not be fixed above the Uniform Floor Rate announced by the state Government.
• No sales tax on raw material used for exports.
• The rate of tax on Software leases/work contract or licenses to use in any form will not be fixed above the Uniform Floor Rate announced by the state Government.
• IT products produced in the State will be provided quantity and price preference.
• IT units in Information Technology Parks and STPs will be charged the same power tariff as the SSI.
• Special package of incentives will be formulated for IT industries involving an investment of `50 crores or more.
• Complete exemption to software industry from the provisions of Pollution Control Act both for air and water pollution.

 

IT projects needs human resources more than anything else. Realizing this you are already planning to have IIIT in the state. Please shed some light on this.
The IIIT has been approved by the steering committee of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. It will come up in Ranchi. It will be set up on a 50 acre plot and likely to cost Rs 128 crores. Focus will be on the under graduate in the area of Electrical and Communication Technology as well as in the area of Information Technology. But as it goes, it will be offering Phd and MTech and Research programs. It would like to focus on certain specific areas like bioinformatics, computer science engineering. So, focus will be on latest areas of the development of IT and Computer Science. This will help us on development of manpower necessary not only for this state, but also for nationwide and we would also expect them to provide consultancies to the state government and industries.

Please tell us about your plans for skill development in the state?
We are focusing on skill development and for that purpose we are encouraging institutions like NIELIT and CDAC to provide skill-development programs. Recently, I met the Director of NIELIT Kolkata center and we discussed skill development of around 10,000 people in the state and the state government assured them of all kind of possible help.
Let me also mention that state government is also thinking of opening IT academy and we have proposed this to the 14th Finance Commission. If that does not materialize, then we will think of alternative.

Please give us details of the new e-governance initiatives in the recent past in the state of Jharkhand.
We have now enabled citizen search for their land registration-related past data online. We have also integrated AADHAR with the registration process, therefore the authenticity is ensured. Policy for extensive use of AADHAR for delivery of services has been made. We have now developed software for implementation of the Right to Guarantee of Service Act. There are sets of application, which includes both desktop application and mobile application. That takes care of the contingencies of the offices which don’t have the desktops or network connectivity. Apart from these, we have now made it mandatory for secretariat and attached employees to file their attendance through AADHAR based system from 1st January, 2014. MGNAREGA payments are also done through AADHARbased system.
The PDS has been brought under the AADHAR delivery platform.
We are also working on digitizing the record of rights and the Chief Secretary has given stiff targets to all the Deputy Commissioners of the districts for digitizing the entire set of land records. I would also like to mention that recently we held a significant event state innovation workshop. It was a two-day program, and one day was entirely devoted to the IT programs. There, we discussed, innovations based on the AADHAR platforms, mobile platforms, GIS platforms and general e-governance programmes. We also tried to ignite enthusiasm for IT activities by announcing a competition for suggesting IT ideas to the state and out of this, three were selected.

Did you find any interesting idea come out of this innovation workshop?
Oh yes, lot many. One idea that came out was that we should ask each of the department to come up with their own IT innovation roadmap. We also saw a great deal of interest of the people for participating in the IT activities of the state, which was evident from the large numbers of participations in the competitions that we had announced. People are interested in implementing projects in many areas, and I think it is also the responsibility of the IT department of the state government to provide them as much lead and support as possible.
We also discussed matter on having incubation centers.

Please share with us your vision for the IT industry in the state of Jharkhand.
I think we all should recognize that IT industry would need great deal of encouragement in the initial phase, and therefore, I call upon all the branches of the government to cooperate with us in this endeavor so that we could facilitate setting up of as many IT industries. We should also promote local IT start up units. There is a need for a dialogue with the IT units of the state so that we can know their competency and could facilitate their moving up the competency curve.

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