UP can proudly claim to be amongst the top IT hubs in the country: Kumar Prashant
In a tête-à-tête with Express Computer, Kumar Prashant, Special Secretary, Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Uttar Pradesh, shares the vision of the UP Government for strengthening the IT infrastructure, and highlights how the Yogi Adityanath-led government desires to replicate the success of the IT industry witnessed by Noida and Greater Noida in other parts of the state
UP has made strides in the field of information technology in recent years. The state is trying to use IT to the optimum to ease and strengthen citizen services. How do you see the current state of Uttar Pradesh’s technological progress?
Uttar Pradesh can proudly claim to be amongst one of the top information technology hubs in the country. The state has seen an upsurge of investment in the field of IT and electronics sectors over the past couple of years under the ‘Make In UP’ program. During UP Investors Summit 2018, the department of IT & Electronics was able to attract investment worth Rs 55,000 crores of which Rs 41,000 crores was inaugurated in the Ground Breaking Ceremony (GBC) phase one conducted in July 2018. Some leading industry players having pledged investment in Uttar Pradesh are Samsung, Vivo, Oppo, Haier, Tata Consultancy Services and Reliance Jio, among others.
Could you please brief us about the latest IT initiatives of the Uttar Pradesh Government which has brought about a paradigm shift?
Implementation of E-Tendering has brought much needed transparency in the public procurement system. Uttar Pradesh, amongst other states, won the first prize from the Union Government for timely implementation of the E-Tendering portal. On the policy front, introduction of both IT & Startup Policy and Electronics Manufacturing Policy in year 2017 helped us in creating a conducive policy environment for attracting investments from leading global electronics manufacturing companies and top IT/ITeS organisations.
When UP is compared to other ace states like Telangana or Kerala which have leveraged IT to the fullest, what do you think about the state’s progress in terms of using IT tools to roll out services for the public?
The state has been moving steadily towards digital transformation, especially in the area of rolling out digital services to public. eDistrict portal is a testimony to the government’s commitment of reaching out to public through the digital medium. Currently, there are more than 250 government services which have gone live and are being used by the public.
In another benchmark initiative of the UP Government, a 24×7 helpline 1076 was launched on July 4, 2019 by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, which will help establish a direct connect between the public and the government. CM Helpline offers faster access to government departments and speedy resolution of public queries/grievances.
Which are some of the recent IT investments made by the government and the private sector in the state?
The government has taken various steps to strengthen the IT infrastructure being used by the government as well as the public. The second phase of UPSWAN (Uttar Pradesh State Wide Area Network) has been rolled out to connect all government departments, from top to bottom, across all levels of the government. SWAN is one of the core infrastructure components under the National e-Governance Plan of the Centre, which provides a secure and high speed connectivity for government functioning by connecting State Headquarters, District Headquarters and Blocks Headquarters.
If the current IT initiatives are taken into consideration, how do you see UP progressing in this field in the next five years?
The department has understood the need for a long-term vision and strategy for digital transformation of the state. Therefore, the department has recently published a tender to onboard a global consulting firm to develop IT Vision 2030 document entailing long-term strategies for the government. This vision 2030 will be the guiding document for strengthening the IT infrastructure in the state, roadmap for digital governance, delivery of citizen centric eGov services and investment in IT and electronics sectors.
What are some of the biggest challenges in adopting ICT in the state?
Digital literacy is one of the biggest problems the government faces while pushing for technology adoption by the general public. Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA) is one such initiative where physical channels are created by the government for delivery of digital trainings for the public at large. The other challenge is the availability of robust ICT infrastructure for delivering government services and also the public use. This is being dealt by the government through schemes like Bharatnet and UPSWAN for providing much required technology backbone to for implementing citizen centric digital services.
What are the plans of the UP Government to set up IT parks in various cities to create jobs and broaden the IT domain?
The UP Government is committed to have balanced economic growth across all four regions of the state i.e. Purvanchal, Pashchimanchal, Madhyanchal and Bundelkhand. Noida/Greater Noida region has already made its mark in becoming one of the largest IT centres in the country and has consistently been attracting leading global IT players to invest in UP.
The government wishes to replicate the success of the IT industry witnessed by Noida/Greater Noida in other parts of the state as well and to achieve this total of eight IT parks are being planned/established in tier two cities like Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Meerut, Agra, Kanpur and Bareli. This will help smaller IT firms and technology startups to have ”Plug n Play” infrastructure available at their disposal without moving out of their home town.
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