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Goa-The Next IT Destination of India

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Rohan Ashok Khaunte

Rohan Ashok Khaunte
Minister of Information Technology
Government of Goa

The type of policy, Goa has outlined for Startups could be the best policy in the country. Implementation is a challenge, and we have targeted December to be the deadline, says Rohan Ashok Khaunte, Minister of Information Technology, Government of Goa, in conversation with Poulami Chakraborty of Elets News Network (ENN).

Give us an outline on the Startup policy envisioned by the Government of Goa.

The Startup Policy has been made as per requirements of the industry. Goa has always been a preferred industrial destination and we have to fulfill requirements of startups. When we talk about the incubation or an IT concept, we need to ensure that unemployment issues faced by a lot of people, especially in the IT, ITES and electronic segments, are taken care of. The idea of having Startup Policy in place is to make youths become a job-giver rather than a job-seeker. Hence we have outlined a policy which the industry has been awaiting. The type of policy Goa has outlined for Startups could be the best policy in the country. Implementation is, however, a challenge; and we have targeted December to be the deadline for it to fall in place.

startupChief Minister Manohar Parrikar mandates to bring Goa among the first 25 startup hubs across the world within a stipulated period of time. How is the State Government intending to achieve the target?

An ambitious target of 100 startups in the first year was taken up at the launch of the policy. However creating an ecosystem, favourable for the industry, may take wo to three months. If the policy is implemented the way we have outlined, definitely, The Chief Minister’s vision to make Goa the most preferable destination for the startups will become reality. In the five-year plan, a target to generate employment for minimum 5-7 thousand people in the I-T sector has been fixed. The Government is also investing on incubation centres aimed at creating an infrastructure for the startups. We will have partners running these incubation centres, ensuring that startup culture proceeds in a right manner. Thus, with a dedicated chain management focused on the sector, the end result achieve CM’s vision in creating the best startup ecosystem.

Where does Goa stand in terms of IT setup and implementation?

We already have the setup in place but the challenge is to take it to the next level. Chief Minister envisages to connect every household in Goa with broadband services. Nine year back, the Government signed an agreement with United Telecoms Limited (UTL) through which we are already giving optical fibre broadband service to the Government offices and institutions, including the last-mile connectivity to panchayats. The agreement ceases in 2019. The challenge ahead is how will Goa ensure good connectivity, better power supplies, providing basic facilities in the next 10 to 15 years. A holistic approach is required to meet these challenges and by December, we plan to come-up with a concrete plan to meet these challenges.

IT and Ease of doing business:

Technology is the only answer to bring ease in doing business. Systems in Goa are already operational, however, more focus is being emphasised on making it user-friendly and citizen-centric. Furthermore, the initiatives are aimed at reducing the scope of corruptions, providing time-bound services to the citizens.

“Employment generation is one of the focused area where Government wants to ensure that it is taken care of. Skill development can bridge the gap of eligibility criteria to ensure that they are fit for the industry. The idea is to create fit people who are fit for the job. “

While Goa is evolving as a Startup hub, how is the skill development programmes imparting its role?

Youths of today are well-versed with the technology, but the gap is felt among people aged between 40 to 50 years and above. For them, we are conducting courses on basic computer knowledge along with educating them on online — using MS Word, Excel, and how to use Paytm, Skype, operate smartphones, etc, at village or taluka level. The courses are already ongoing for scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, and senior citizens in various parts of the State. The idea is to ensure that Goa becomes digitally literate. In next six months, digital literacy, broadband services, infrastructures supporting the IT sector, electronic manufacturing cluster, etc, takes shape —which was only discussed in the last 20 years. Employment generation is one of the focused area where Government wants to ensure that it is taken care of. Skill development can bridge the gap of eligibility criteria to ensure that they are suitable the industry. The idea is to create fit people who are fit for the job.

Goa is also evolving as IT hub. How is the response so far from the corporate giants participating in it?

We need an Act in place. As far as having IT park is concerned, it shall be running in a PPP (Public Private Partnership) model. Further, talks are on with the corporate giants, but we are also trying to understand how it would be beneficial for them. In the next three-six months, we will come up with an elaborate policy to address the issue. Besides an electronic manufacturing cluster and an IT Park at Chimbal, the Government is currently trying to set up incubation centres, IT related infrastructure, BPOs at various parts of the State.

How is Goa contributing to the ambitious “Digital India” project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi?

Digital India is a well-thought project and Goa is in tune with what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has envisioned. All-in-all 2019 shouldn’t be a big target for Goa as the State has already inherited the idea of digital literacy or are digitally literate. Exposure, awareness are the only things that needs a boost. The Government in last six months has done a tremendous job.

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