Chhattisgarh on Digital India Path : Saurabh Kumar

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Saurabh Kumar, CEO, Chhattisgarh Infotech & Biotech Promotion Society (CHIPS)

Electronics manufacturing is a key component of the Digital India vision, and the State of Chhattisgarh is making an all-out effort to give a boost to the sunrise sector, says Saurabh Kumar, CEO, Chhattisgarh Infotech & Biotech Promotion Society (CHIPS) in an interview with Nirav Soni of Elets News Network (ENN)

Give us a brief about Chhattisgarh Infotech & Biotech Promotion Society (CHIPS).

Chhattisgarh Infotech & Biotech Promotion Society or CHIPS is a society registered under the Department of Information Technology and Biotechnology, promoted by the Government of Chhattisgarh. It is a Nodal Agency for all projects in the state under the National e-Governance Programme (NeGP) of the Government of India as well as the State Government projects. This department is headed by Hon Chief Minister himself. So, there is an absolute clarity on different policies and directions with respect to what step the state needs to take for the growth of IT and ITeS.

What are the different ICT initiatives undertaken by the Society in Chhattisgarh?

Historically, CHIPS has been a pioneer in delivering Government to Consumer (G2C) services. If one remembers the scenario of 2005, the implementation of different e-Governance projects under NeGP was in nascent stage and CHIPS would implement G2C projects under the PPP mode. The CHOICE initiative is one of such projects. Apart from this, we have also implemented ICT in digitising the lifecycle of procurement (e-procurement), student lifecycle (Gyan Vinimay), a specific application for the Panchayat & Rural Development Department (e-Gram Suraj), Digital Secretariat, SSDG and e-District, to name just a few.

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What are the challenges you are facing in bringing about ‘transformation’ in various departments?

One must understand that business process re-engineering, especially in the Government ecosystem, is a continuous and in-depth process where we have to see how a particular service was delivered previously and what are the various stages. This is necessary as the Department of IT will have to intervene in a similar manner. For example, in CHOICE project, we have seen that simply putting the mechanism in place for delivery of services does not work. We have to involve different departments and exhaustive training to these departments has to be provided, so as to make them realise the importance of the project. The most major challenge in the Government is to convince the department concerned to own up the project. We involve departments from the very start — from the stage of preparation of the DPR. However, this has been a major challenge for us.

What are your views with regard to the ambitious initiative of Digital India?

It is an excellent umbrella initiative of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY). Lots of work has happened in the past also, but this initiative gives vision and clarity on where the nation is headed for. There are 9 pillars to this initiative and the crucial part is focus on ‘electronics manufacturing’ in India. Today, the electronics manufacturing is at USD90 bn and we aim to reach USD350 bn a year by 2020. This may be a challenge, but this is also an opportunity to check our money from going out of the country and to create more jobs within the country.

How is Chhattisgarh ready to contribute to the Digital India mission?

We are ready and have already undertaken lots of initiatives and finished many as per the Digital India guidelines. For Example, NKN (National Knowledge Network) needs to be integrated with SWAN (State Wide Area Network). Chhattisgarh is the first state in the country to have completed this work, and has helped not only create redundancy but also leverage both networks. On electronics manufacturing front, we have already signed an MOU with a Chinese company for Tablet manufacturing, and we are expecting an investment of `100 crore to happen before the year closing.

That means electronics manufacturing is a key focus of Chhattisgarh?

Yes. Electronics manufacturing is a sunrise sector. Although we also focus on IT, it is this sector will define the growth of different states in the times to come.

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What are the incentives provided to the firms coming and establishing manufacturing facility in Chhattisgarh?

Chhattisgarh is a state with 24X7 electricity, abundant water supply, availability of land at attractive prices and good amount of manpower that can be trained. This state is ideally located and well connected through the national highways to all the parts of country. We have developed a new airport and also developing Naya Raipur. Within that city, an EMC (electronics manufacturing cluster) has been sanctioned by the Government of India. We are also in the process of coming out with separate Electronics Manufacturing Policy, wherein a host of incentives will be defined.

Apart from this, we offer the ease of doing business. We have absolute clarity that enough investments have happened in other core sectors like steel, power, coal, etc, IT, ITeS and electronic manufacturing are the new focus areas. CHIPS is now the Nodal Agency for IT and electronics manufacturing. We will soon launch a portal that will facilitate absolutely non-physical contact with all departments for any further process, and because of this, the entire process of submission of applications until the approval will be completed in four weeks’ time. This will be notified through MIS and monitored by the Chief Secretary and the Chief Minister on a regular basis.

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