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eGovWatch: Taking Telangana’s IT industry into Higher Growth Trajectory

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“Telangana aims to become the hub for electronics manufacturing, like Taiwan and South Korea. We are developing institutions like T-Hub and TASK that will enable us to emerge as the world’s centre for innovation and enterprise,” says K. T. Rama Rao, Minister for Panchayat Raj & Information Technology, Government of Telangana. In conversation with Express Computer

Information Technology is one of the major industries in Telangana. Do you see any prospects for further growth in the sector in the near term?

Hyderabad is exporting around $10 billion of IT software and employing around four lakh people in this sector. We would like to improve upon our current performance and become the number one IT destination in the country. We aim to double our income from IT sector in next four years. To do that we will continue to expand the IT-ITES software industry through proactive and business-friendly engagements. We also plan to focus on new growth sectors like electronics manufacturing, aviation and automobiles.

You have started a skill development programme called TASK. How is it working?

To make the graduates from the state employable, TASK (Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge) has been launched. The programme has already skilled around 15,000 students this year and placed 2000 of them with the industry. It has a mandate to create a workforce of 100,000 in 5 years.
The state government is planning to set up new IT clusters in Hyderabad. Please tell us about the project.

Under the ITIR initiative, we are developing more IT clusters along the Outer Ring Road. This will ensure that IT industry is spread across the city and not concentrated in just one part. In addition, we are going to build T-Hub Phase 2, which will be nearly 5 times bigger than the current one. We are also planning for Gaming Tower to promote animation industry, and SME Tower to encourage small and medium companies. We have a separate park for promotion of aviation industry. For promotion of electronics industry, we are developing two Electronic Manufacturing Clusters close to the airport.

What steps are you taking to encourage startups in the state?

We want to make Hyderabad, the startup capital of India. We believe we have all the essential ingredients for encouraging startups. The state government is ready to play the role of a facilitator to sustain the entire startup ecosystem. We have launched the T-Hub, which is the largest incubation centre in India—now we are planning the Phase 2 building, which will be nearly four times bigger. T-Hub is at the center of the ecosystem of angel investors, VCs, mentors, industry, and even an extension arm in the Silicon Valley. T-Hub has partners online casino like IIIT Hyderabad, ISB, and NALSAR. Not only will these institutes provide access to world class research and mentorship, but also enable protection of intellectual property. The new Innovation Policy that Telangana is developing will further boost the startup environment in the state.

India produces less than 5% of its electronics needs. What steps is the government of Telangana taking to make the state a hub for electronics manufacturing?

I believe that IT means both software and hardware. Unfortunately India is lagging behind in its electronics production. Soon we will reach the stage where our electronics import bill is higher than our oil import bill. With the ‘Make in India’ campaign launched by New Delhi, there is now a strong encouragement for promotion of electronics industry in the country. We want the manufacturers to focus on our state. Telangana aims to become the hub for electronics manufacturing, like Taiwan and South Korea. Our institutions like T-Hub and TASK will enable us to emerge as the world’s centre for innovation and enterprise. We have created a historic and unprecedented industrial policy that mandates 15-day clearances for major projects. We have passed the TS-iPASS bill to make time-bound clearances a law of the land. With our efforts to streamline every process of the industry, we have taken the ‘ease of doing business’ to a different level. We want to make Telangana the most preferred destination in India for electronics manufacturing.

India is one of the largest consumers of mobiles and set-top boxes, but the demand for these products is being fulfilled through imports. Are you developing policies for encouraging the production of mobiles and set-top boxes in Telangana?

Recently the Government of India created a differential duty structure for mobile and set-top boxes. This will incentivise manufacturers to set up their plants in India. Telangana has recently announced one of the most aggressive mobile manufacturing policies in the country with state subsidies and tax incentives. Our VAT reimbursement policy is unique in the entire country. It is almost like an exemption for the manufacturer. We are seeing lot of interest from manufacturers. Micromax and Celkon have setup their manufacturing units in the state, and few more projects are in the pipeline.

What steps are you taking to further improve the scope of e-Governance programmes in the state?

We have one of the most mature electronic service delivery programmes in the country. Telangana is currently offering nearly 500 citizen services on E-Seva and Mee Seva, where we are seeing around seventy thousand to one lakh transactions per day. After the launch of Mee Seva 2.0 next year, with a vision of offering digital services to the citizens on an anytime, anywhere basis, we believe that we will see a dramatic increase in the number of citizens who engage with us through digital means. People can use a mobile or computer to access a range of cloud-based services. With one-stop kiosks in every village, we will be able to reach almost the entire population.

What steps are being taken to bring connectivity to all parts of the state?

We have embarked on an ambitious programme to provide high-speed broadband connectivity through fibre optic network to every home in Telangana in next three years. Piggybacking on our Water Grid project, which shall give tap water to one crore homes in Telangana, we will be laying optic fibre in the same trench. In about three years, we could become one of the most well connected states in India. It is generally understood that broadband penetration has a direct impact on the GDP of the state and on the country. We believe that this network will change the economy of our state. Entrepreneurs will come up with business idea to utilise this network, possibly setting up call centers in villages. This will allow the state to provide education and healthcare services at the doorstep of the common man.

It has been reported that you are planning to offer free WiFi facility in Hyderabad. What is the scope of the project?

We are developing plans to provide free WiFi facility at many more public areas in Hyderabad. Right now, we are having this service around the Necklace Road and Tank Bund, but soon the service will be available at all the major business centers, tourist centers, shopping places, airport, railway station, bus stations, and other places where large number of people go regularly. In this programme, the internet is free for the first half hour and after that the user has to pay. This ensures that people are able to access internet, avail citizen services and other smart services. This is one of the steps towards making Hyderabad a world-class city.


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