Monday 30 November 2020

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Khalap vows to make Goa IT-smart

 

After mysterious lull for over one year, Goa is once again planning to make its dream of becoming a major IT state in the country true, provided it is supported by political stability.

Goa's information technology minister Ramakant Khalap has taken it up as a priority on the agenda of the newly installed Bharatiya Janata Party government, the third one being formed after the state approved the IT policy in October last year.

Former Congress chief minister Luizinho Faleiro had taken several steps to put the IT ball into motion one year ago. However, his successor Francisco Sardinha, who was running a coalition government here along with the BJP till last month, did not even bother to make budgetary provision for the IT department formed specially for the purpose.

While the estimated budget was around Rs 9.5 crore, chief minister Manohar Parrikar has now agreed to shell out around Rs one crore to shape up the department immediately. "Even I am holding additional charge without any staff or proper office", says Shantaram Shet, the IT director.

But Khalap has apparently started taking positive steps in the direction, preparing groundwork till the budgetary support becomes a reality at the time of revised estimates. "I want to make it the smartest state in the country", he states.

Dr Raghunath Mashelkar, the CSIR director general and a Goan by origin, has already agreed to be part of the revised IT advisory council besides getting top brass in the field on it to guide the state. "It is an ideal state for IT and we can make it a different state in the country", states the scientist, who is also the secretary of science and technology.

Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has also agreed to sacrifice one of his experts to guide the state initially. According to NASSOCOM chief Devang Mehta, who is already part of the advisory council, Goa could be posed as a model state due to its small size but high level of education.

While the Goa University has already decided that nobody would get a degree without an IT certificate, the Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education is also in a process of making IT-related computer education compulsory. Plans are also afoot to set up Goa Institute of Information Technology.

"We would not concentrate only on computer-related IT expertise but also plan to take full benefits of space technology to introduce distant education programmes as well as bringing the whole state under centralised cable network", discloses Khalap.

In order to begin with the process of E-governance in spite of budget constraints, Khalap plans to start IT kiosks in all the major towns to provide computerised administrative service, besides training all the state personnel from December onwards.

But it is a fact that no firms are coming forward to set up any hardware or software industry in the tourist state in spite of having plans to set up more IT parks in different areas, mainly due to bureaucratic hurdles as well as political instability.

"It is not possible without administrative reforms, improving bandwidth, raising quality of education and providing incentives for the IT sector", states Nitin Kunkolienkar, senior manager of D-Link India Ltd, the sole hardware manufacturing industry of Goa.


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