NEW MANTRA: AGRICULTURE, TOURISM & IT?

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar giving away certificates to students at the IT Day celebrations, with him are IT Minister Rohan Khaunte, Ameya Abhyankar and others

By Our Special Correspondent

SOME think the IT or information technology dream has come and gone and Goa has missed the boat! But some old dreams and new dreams are on the way for Goa with a newly revived Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. He was all there at the jamboree exhibition-cum-revival sessions for IT start-ups on the map of Goa at the just over Goa IT Day celebrations which initially were to take place at the Dr Shyama Mukherjee In-door Stadium but later shifted to the INOX and Old GMC complex over two days, July 14-15, 2018.
Amongst the speakers were many notable personalities as key speakers. They were led by the very eloquent Infosys co-founder, now chairperson of Manipal Global Education Services and Aarin Capital, Mohandas Pai, who described Goa as his “dharma bhoomi.” He said he was committed to helping Goa be “the next IT powerhouse of India.” The two day deliberations saw the launch of Goa’s IT policy on the second day by Union Minister for Electronics & IT Ravi Shankar Prasad.
The Union minister also digitally inaugurated an STPI office in Goa which features an incubation center with 48 plug and play systems, it is currently housed at Udyog Bhawan. He declared that Goa will soon have a center of National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT) for digital skilling and training, “You just provide us the space and within one month time NIELIT center will start here and it my promise.”
Two MoUs were signed between Goa government and Wowsoft and Visteon to enable them to set up units in the state. Wowsoft has committed to generate 3,000 jobs in Goa within a period of four years. The new IT policy document promises to sweep aside all red tape bureaucracy for anyone wanting to set up an IT unit in Goa; an electronic policy too is on the cards.
The two-day deliberations saw talks on ecosystem development by IT stakeholders, panel discussions, exhibitions. Intel India’s Nivruti Rai expressed her shock at the ground realities of a dismal status of connectivity in village Goa and incidence of death on the roads due to potholes (potholes claimed 3,600 lives in India last year going by the day’s newspaper reports). She promised to go on a data-collection drive and deliver on a highly advanced global positioning system (GPS) to help drivers anticipate tragedy ahead, especially in Goa which has a high incidence of death on the road.
Goa’s IT Minister Rohan Khaunte was there alongside the CM, endorsing the promise of working collectively towards putting Goa on the IT map of India. He spoke of mining revenue and tourism keeping Goa alive to date but now it is time to add on IT to the list. Referring to the new IT policy, he said, “We have taken a long journey to bring out this policy and it is not my policy, it is our policy. It involved a lot of stakeholders and the chief minister himself spend a huge amount of time in helping to fine tune it to make it more inclusive.” The police is now available online and appealed for feedback directly on his email ID.
Amongst the host of panel session mentors were Ashank Desai (co-founder, NASSCOM, and chairperson of MASTEK), Ramanan Sambukumar (Head-Open Innovation and Wipro Ventures); Shraddha Sharma (founder-CEO of Your Story), Dr Omkar Rai (director, STPI) and many other IT personalities from Goa and India. An estimated 850 students from technical colleges were invited to the mega IT event. According to Secretary for IT Ameya Abhyankar, the number of students and delegates had far exceeded the number expected and for whom catering arrangements had been made. There were many outstation delegates too keen to explore IT possibilities in Goa courtesy the new relaxed IT policy of the government.
Clearly, Goan youth have an IT dream although there is some bad news by way of cynicism! Speaking to a couple of students at the event a few of them cracked that the IT revolution has come and gone or on its way out in Bengaleru and Pune. It is old timers who’ve reaped their rewards in the greener pastures of USA and Bangalore who are now looking for more land and greener pastures in Goa courtesy an over-ambitious government! Such cynicism from the young is disconcerting. Listen to Mithil Parab from the Don Bosco Engineering College, “If the government is serious there will be new start-ups and more employment for Goan graduates but we have seen the long-term fall-out too from those who burnt out in ten years in Pune and Bengalaru, after putting in long hours of work at irregular shifts and indifferent eating habits. Good salaries, but such rotten working conditions. We know it is not like that abroad where they work for fewer hours and don’t care about doing overtime….”

Rohan Khaunte saying hello to a robot inviting attention at the INOX foyer…robots are useful “manpower”/ “womanpower” in a host of servicing areas, spelling out an IT-driven future in the making maybe!

Quite simply even if the new players in the IT start-ups offer better pay packets, will terms of contract and working conditions be more friendly? Yet another student, Ankit Kumar Tiwari, offered, “Even if there are IT prospects in Goa I would like to go out for some adventures before coming back home to start my own set-up! We are all aware about the IT situation in India …more money is fine but health and working conditions have to be redressed. Most young people don’t anticipate all this when they start off in their first job, we are so ignorant about these aspects and there is a flip side to all this hype we are listening to here!” (Or prefer to turn a blind eye in the belief that something is better than nothing because the economy is floundering for the many if not the few.)
All this notwithstanding a few positive pointers are that Manohar Parrikar’s government and its IT department have unrolled an IT policy to cut through all the hassles for anyone interested in setting up IT units in Goa. The other good news is the Goa government is concentrating big-time on e-governance through new information technology (IT) policy being put in place. So Goans may now look forward to faster services, fewer irritations vis-à-vis government departments.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar was present for long hours during the two-day IT deliberations listening to various key speakers. Amongst other things he referred to Goa’s 14.5 lakh population and its diaspora of over 1.5 crore living elsewhere in India and abroad, and how it is talent from Goa which has been driving the engine of the IT sector in Pune and Bengaluru. Mohandas Pai spoke on several occasions is obviously on first name terms with the chief minister whom he at one point referred to as “mama!”
Mr Pai waxed lyrical over how Goa can be a high tech center like Israel—that is start-up with cutting edge technology to foster research and development. He said Goa needs a few heroes like Manohar Parrikar (who is a hero for him) to serve as catalysts to kick start Goa’s potential in developing as India’s IT capital given its high quality indices of better grasp of English and better quality of life and environment. If we can build up a public opinion of positivity we can make Goa the capital of global IT too! One speaker spoke of how “Block chain is changing the world and we can make India the block chain capital of the world.”

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