Arunachal has got ample opportunities for IT and ITES industry to flourish: Anirudh S Singh, Secretary IT

In a recent interaction with Express Computer, Anirudh Saran Singh, Secretary, Department of IT, Government of Arunachal Pradesh talks about how Arunachal Pradesh has been slowly evolving into a digitally empowered state. Singh says that Arunachal Pradesh is an electricity surplus state, got enough land and skilled manpower which are key elements to attract the IT and ITES industry in the state. Excerpts:
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By Vishwas Dass

The North Eastern region has been facing multiple challenges like network connectivity being one of the key issues. However, the region has displayed decent growth in adoption of advanced technologies. Please share some of your recent IT initiatives and future plans of improving governance in the state via ICT. 

There are certain systemic challenges in the northeast region. The primary reason is the region is a late starter on many fronts and to catch up with that pace of development, the region has no option but to embrace information technology in a major way. We are the first north east state which has comprehensively adopted e-office, developed by the NIC. We have completely stopped using paper files, started using e-files on a daily basis to curb leakages and maintain transparency. Though we had the lockdown but we worked more efficiently than ever because of high level of IT usage within the departments. Our hon’ble Minister of IT is a big admirer of using advanced technologies for improving citizen services. A very few states are convening cabinet meetings digitally. Arunachal Pradesh is one of them and we set our agenda digitally and have regular meetings online. We had conducted cabinet meetings at the comfort of our homes during various stages of the lockdown which could not have been possible without using IT. We are trying to address connectivity issues aggressively. We are putting up over 1,000 VSATs (very small aperture terminal) for a small population of five lakhs. We are putting up SWANs in the state.

MeitY Secretary, Ajay Prakash Sawhney in one of the interviews had said the Centre sees a considerable potential of growth for electronic manufacturing and business process outsourcing (BPOs) in the region. As an IT Secretary of Arunachal Pradesh, how do you see the scope of making the state an electronic manufacturing hub? 

Any shopfloor in any BPO based out of Gurgaon, Noida, Delhi or Bangalore consists of at least 20 per cent of young people from the north east states. They came back to their respective native north east states during the lockdown and now there is a sort of resistance among them in going back to these metro cities. The cost of living in the north east states is just two third of Gurgaon or any major city for that matter. The people who have come back to Arunachal Pradesh or any other north east state after working with the BPO company in Bangalore or anywhere else, is a trained person. There is a need to give him right opportunities in the north east states. Arunachal Pradesh is a power surplus state and we can easily provide electricity to the ITES industry that they need to set up their establishments here. Another thing is that we have got huge land and there are regions in Arunachal where population density is just four person per square kilometer. We have land, electricity and human capital. There is ample opportunity for IT and ITES industry to flourish in the north east states. 

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