Orissa: The Emerging ICT Destination

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Naveen Patnnaik, Chief Minister, Government of Orissa: The Man behind IT Vision of Orissa

In early 1990s, Bhubaneswar, Bangalore and Pune were chosen by the Government of India for grooming of these cities as Information Technology (IT) destinations of the country. Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) and National Informatics Centre (NIC) facilities were established in Bhubaneswar to catalyse growth. Infosys established its Development Centre in Bhubaneswar in 1996. It was the first Development Centre of Infosys outside Bangalore. Mahindra Satyam came to Bhubaneswar the next year. The city never looked back, thereafter.

In a recent survey, the World Bank ranked Bhubaneswar among the top three cities of India for ease of setting-up and doing business. At USD 275 million, the software and IT services exports for 2008-09, puts Orissa amongst the top ten sates of India. The IT exports from Orissa notched a growth of 40 percent over the previous year, despite the economic slow-down. Concerted efforts are underway to achieve software exports of USD 1,000 million in 2012.

The State has done very well in the last five years, in terms of creation of IT infrastructure and in attracting reputed IT companies to Bhubaneswar for setting up their Development Centres. Infocity spanning over 200 acres of land became the first notified IT Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the State and is operational since early 2009 with the inauguration of TCS Development Centre. It currently employs some 800 IT professionals and expected to grow to 2500 in 2010. The WIPRO Development Centre is ready in all respect and will be operational in the current financial year. Genpact, MindTree Consulting, Zensar Technologies and Perfectus Technology amongst others who are setting up their business units in this SEZ.

Infovalley, only 13 kms away from the Bhubaneswar airport, spreading over 600 acres will be the biggest IT SEZ in eastern India. State government is making substantial investment in providing external infrastructure linkages like road, electricity and water to this IT Park. This SEZ is being developed by the Orissa Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) as a Knowledge Township with facilities for residential, commercial and recreation zones. Infosys Technologies have given their consent to become the anchor unit in this SEZ. K.Raheja Corp has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the State government for bringing its Mindspace brand to Orissa by establishing an IT SEZ over 30 acres of land in the city. The State Government is also planning for an IT Investment Region (ITIR) in Bhubaneswar. The ITIR supported by the Government of India would integrate all the IT parks, major technical and management schools, civic infrastructure and the related eco-system to foster investment, accelerated growth and employment opportunities in the IT and ITeS sectors.

Apart from STPI, Bhubaneswar (established almost two decades back), which has more than 100 registered IT units, two more STPIs have come up in the state. STPI Rourkela started operation in December 2003 and currently, 26 software units are operating under it. STPI, Berhampur is the latest one and all set to be operational soon.

In a recent survey, the World Bank ranked Bhubaneswar among the top three cities of India for ease of setting-up and doing business. At USD 275 million, the software and IT services exports for 2008-09, puts Orissa amongst the top ten states of India.

The State government is implementing large number of e-Governance projects across various domains and government departments. These include core infrastructure projects under the NeGP namely Orissa State Wide Area Network (SWAN), Common Services Centre (Jana Seva Kendra) and the State Data Centre. A number of State Mission Mode Projects pertaining to Agriculture, Commercial Taxes, District administration, Employment Exchanges, Land records, Municipalities, Panchayats, Police, Property Registration, Road Transport and Treasuries are in various stages of implementation. Computerisation of Courts, Jails, Government Colleges are also in progress. One of the recent and most successful projects is e-Procurement. Currently, all government procurement of USD 2500 and above is done through this process. So far, procurement worth nearly USD 5000 million has been successfully made through around 8000 tenders. The e-Shishu project for the Orissa Primary Education Programme Authority won the coveted Prime Minister’s award as one of the best e-Gov applications in the country.

More than 40 e-Governance projects are in different stages of implementation, which in turn help create a big domestic market for IT industry.

The Orissa Computer Application Centre (OCAC), the Technical Directorate of the Department  of IT runs a good number of training programs including high end ones like CISCO Networking and Certification and CAD  to enhance the employability of general and technical manpower. OCAC also conducts Foreign Language training programme in Japanese, French, Russian and Chinese languages primarily aimed at preparing youngsters for jobs in ITeS, technical translation and interpretation services. OCAC imparts training to all the government employees to enable them use computers and IT facilities effectively in their work.

The Industry Facilitation and IT Promotion Cell at OCAC offers single window services to investors and entrepreneurs for setting up or expanding their operations in Orissa. OCAC participates in national and international events to enhance the visibility of the State and identify potential investors.

The Orissa e-Governance Services Limited (OeSL) was established as a joint venture between OCAC and IL&FS in February 2008 to promote e-Governance in Mission Mode and through Public Private Partnership initiatives in the state. The e-Registration, e-Municipality and Orissa Online Web Portal are under implementation by OeSL. OeSL imparted training on IT and soft skills to 66,000 unemployed youth all over the state in the last eight months to empower them take advantage of the government to citizen (G2C) services and provide them a platform to acquire higher skills in computer usage.

Government recognises entrepreneurship as one of the drivers of growth. Policies and interventions are oriented to nurture entrepreneurship in educational institutions, in start ups, in the tiny, small and medium units. The ICT Policy has been instrumental in attracting bigger IT units to the State and giving impetus to growth of local industry and entrepreneurial spirit.

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