Ambitious plans but massive hurdles to remain IT leader (Karnataka Newsletter)
The Congress, which during its previous rule in Karnataka turned state capital Bangalore into an IT powerhouse, appears to have seized the opportunity to climb to a higher level in technology innovation and entrepreneurship.
But to attain the goal, the Congress, which returned to power on its own in May after nine years, has un uphill task in putting in place adequate infrastructure, particularly in Bangalore.
The state needs to spend a whopping Rs.255,992 crore on Bangalore's infrastructure - from improving mobility to providing clean drinking water and keeping the city clean - in the next seven years to reach the goal, says a government appointed panel of experts on ICT (information, communication and technology).
The panel was appointed last year by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party government.
Its was tasked to "recommend a strategy that leverages Karnataka's global image in ICT and its thriving knowledge economy to achieve three core objectives by 2020: Rs.400,000 crore of ICT revenues including exports (from Rs 135,000 crore in 2012); 20,00,000 direct employment in ICT by 2020 (from 800,000 in 2012) and 1,000+ new start-ups to be incubated by 2020".
The panel, headed by former Infosys director and now head of Manipal Global Education T.V. Mohandas Pai, submitted its recommendations in January but the BJP lost the chance to do anything as the Congress defeated it in the May 5 assembly elections.
Three months after returning to power, the Congress government says it has accepted the recommendations and will implement them in phases.
"The government is committed to implement the group's recommendation in a phased manner," IT Minister S.R. Patil said in Bangalore earlier this month.
The panel has suggested several initiatives in the fields of IT/BPO, ESDM (Electronic Systems Design and Manufacturing), Education, Talent Development and Job Creation, Innovation, Entrepreneurhsip Development and Monitoring, Development of Emerging ICT (EMICT) centres, ICT relationships with other countries and focused marketing.
The panel has devoted a considerable part of its 107-page report to improving infrastructure in Bangalore as "the international business community will closely follow what Bangalore does and how it evolves over the next decade".
"Bangalore must aim to improve its infrastructure, working and living conditions if it is to continue to attract international investments," it pointed out.
Among the measures the panel has suggested to ensure Bangalore retains its leadership are improving public transport system to ensure that at least 60 percent of the city's population uses it; reducing commuting between city extremes to less than 60 minutes, reducing carbon footprint and conserving resources; affordable housing for all; providing hygienic toilets for all; making the city garbage free; creating a greener and cleaner Bangalore; reliable and uninterrupted power; providing pedestrian crossings; skywalks at major locations with escalators and a public cycle sharing system.
The panel noted that more than 400 out of the Global Fortune 500 Companies were outsourcing IT services from Bangalore, which is home to around 85 chip design houses and more than 360 R and D centres.
"With this kind of balanced growth, Bangalore has created a base for innovation, product development and IP creation so that it can fuel the next level of growth," the panel pointed out.
Hopefully, the Congress will act on the recommendations as promised as otherwise Bangalore will end up as a model of bad governance.
(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 07-09-2013)