Admn. to provide friendlier business environment & define attractive IT/ITeS policy: LG

Workshop for promoting IT/ITeS Industry in isles
Report by: 
Port Blair
7 Jan 2017
Establishing IT and ITeS industries in A&N Islands is one of the thrust areas of development identified by the A&N Administration to generate employment opportunities. Availability of robust telecom connectivity, internet and business friendly policy are a few prerequisites for promoting IT and ITeS enterprises. As a prelude, the A & N Administration organised a day long workshop for promotion of IT & ITeS industries in A&N Islands, in association with NASSCOM, CII, FICCI, ANIIDCO in the conference hall of DBRAIT auditorium here on Friday.
The Lt. Governor, A&N Islands, Prof. Jagdish Mukhi lit the ceremonial oil lamp to mark the inauguration of the workshop which was attended by the Chief Secretary, A&N Administration, Mr Anindo Majumdar, Joint Secretary, Department of Telecommunication, Shri Sashi Ranjan Kumar, Adhyaksh, ZPSA, Mr Jaydeep Kumar Dey, PBMC Chairperson, Mr B. Eswar Rao, Smt. Rupa Ray, ACCI President, Mr Girish Arora and other senior officers of the Administration besides senior officers from Ministry of Telecommunication, Ministry of Electronics and IT, other firms and top management of pioneers in IT, BPO Industries in mainland.
Addressing the gathering, the Lt. Governor expressed happiness that the pioneers of IT Industry of India have come together under one roof at the capital of this beautiful archipelago to think, deliberate, suggest and encourage means to establish these pristine islands as one of the leading sourcing destination for IT and ITeS industry in India.
“We all know that IT industry in India has led the economic transformation of the country and altered the perception of India in the global economy. India’s cost competitiveness in providing IT services continues to be the mainstay of its USP. However, our country is also gaining prominence in terms of intellectual capital with several global IT firms setting up their innovation centres in India”, he said.
The Lt. Governor expressed confidence that the A&N Islands have the capability and strength to attract the IT Industry, specifically ITeS sector in commencing their operations and the youth of the Isles have huge potential. “The literacy rate here is 86.63% which is much higher as compared to national average of 74.04%. English and Hindi are the official languages predominantly spoken in the Islands. The region’s technical education framework comprises one engineering college offering B.Tech and Diploma courses, one degree college offering BSc (IT) and science subjects and one degree college providing BCA/MCA courses with enrolment capacity of approximately 150 students per year”, he said, adding that very soon a Central University will also be established in A&N Islands.
The Lt. Governor also stated that there are various other private institutes that offer non-formal courses such as Diploma and Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Applications and train about 1500 students per year. Many of the engineering graduates and diploma passouts from our institution today are serving in leading IT firms of India. The educated, computer literate and English speaking youths of these Islands offer huge potential of talent for BPO firms. Besides, the Islands blessed with immaculate beaches and exotic flora-fauna, offers pollution free environment as lucrative incentives for the Industry, he opined. 
The Lt. Governor mentioned that the Islands’ economy is basically Government driven due to non-existence of large and medium scale industries. The economic activity is largely restricted to micro-enterprises and training activities besides the activities related to tourism and fisheries sectors.
 Acknowledging that there are various infrastructure and operational challenges involved in setting up and running an IT and ITeS industry successfully, the Lt. Governor said, the main constraints in respect of these Islands are poor telecom connectivity, availability of limited revenue land (only 6%), power – since 98% is generated through DG set resulting in high unit cost and the demographic isolation from mainland India.
However, he said, we should always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. The Lt. Governor informed that the Union Cabinet has approved laying of dedicated submarine optical fibre cable connecting Chennai Cable Landing Station and Landing Stations at Port Blair and  five other islands. The Lt. Governor also revealed that the Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi is likely to lay the foundation stone of the project in the first week of February. The project is likely to be completed by December, 2018. This will result into abundant telecom bandwidth which would facilitate potential investors.
In order to augment the power supply in the region and to make progressive steps towards realization of clean energy vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Administration has operationalized 5MW solar power plant and has initiated setting up of 20 MW solar power project. UT Administration is further planning to add 100 MW to the Islands solar grid, he said.
The Lt. Governor also spoke about the incessant efforts of Administration to improve air connectivity between A&N Islands and mainland. “Today we have added six flights to the earlier 11, making it 17 aircrafts operating daily between Port Blair and major cities such as Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi and Mumbai, since September 2016. Talks are on with different airlines to further increase the number of flights and add new cities”, he said.
Mentioning that policy initiatives set the pace for any industry and industry-friendly policies not only instill confidence in the entrepreneurs, they ease the process of setting up businesses, the Lt. Governor expressed confidence that through this workshop the expectation of IT/ITeS companies to institute new ventures in these Islands will be cleared.
The Lt. Governor expressed hope that the valuable inputs from Industry players and policy makers would facilitate the Administration in providing friendlier business environment and defining an attractive IT/ITeS policy which will aid in improving our competitiveness with other cities of the country.
In his keynote address, the President, NASSCOM, Mr R. Chandrashekhar said that the IT sector is the clear crown jewel of India’s economy today, with an annual turnover of Rs.10 lakh crore. The IT sector provides employment to over 4 million people directly today and is the biggest foreign exchange earner. However, the IT sector has its own challenges too. He said, a large segment of students coming out of colleges get gainful employment in the IT sector, including in the BPOs. The sector offers great opportunities to bright young people in carving their own niche in the IT industry.
He also counted the three pre-requisitions of establishing the IT sector in any place viz. availability of skilled manpower, infrastructure that includes working space and reliable telecom connectivity and reliable supply of power.
Combinations of all these provide the base for setting up of IT industry, he said, expressing hope that the A&N Administration will take care of all these issues, as IT is a tremendous sector to generate employment. He also requested the Administration to include skill development programmes for students of the Islands, alongside their regular curriculum, so that they become industry-ready as soon as they complete their studies. He also asked NASSCOM officials to interact with the officers of the Administration and other stakeholders for coming up with ideas and projects to set up IT based industries here.
Welcoming the gathering, the Chief Secretary, Mr Anindo Majumdar said this initiative is first of its kind and it will be a launching pad for the Administration to take the Islands on the path of further development. He mentioned that the Govt. of India has sanctioned the Under-Sea Cable Project connecting Chennai and Port Blair and five other Islands, worth over a thousand crore rupees.
The Chief Secretary said, this will be a game changer for the Islands and said that the project will be completed by December, 2018. He said,  organising this workshop is basically a preparatory act, so that IT-based industry can become functional in these Islands as soon as the cable is laid.  He said, an advanced action is needed and this workshop will go a long way in planning the developmental activities.
The Chief Secretary said, the economy of the Islands is Govt. driven, though there are a  lot of other activities which have been taken up in fisheries and tourism sectors too. The Administration today is also looking at other sectors, which can generate employment, such as the green industry i.e. IT and IT related activities. He said that we have large number of educated youth here and the literacy rate is very good besides we also have an engineering college here. In the years to come, if the right steps and actions are taken, the Administration will be able to set up IT enabled industry in the Islands, he said. The outcome of the workshop will help the Administration in preparing an action plan for setting up of IT and IT enabled service industry in the Islands, the Chief Secretary said, also thanking the NASSCOM President for making the workshop happen. The ACCI President, Mr Girish Arora proposed the vote of thanks.