Kerala unveils new IT policy, aims to create 10 million sq ft of IT/ITeS office space
Bengaluru: Kerala unveiled a new information technology (IT) policy on Wednesday, aiming to create 10 million sq ft of office space for the IT and IT-enabled Services (ITeS) sectors.
The policy, which targets the generation of 250,000 jobs in the sectors, was tabled in the state assembly by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Kerala’s Left Front government says it wants to make Kerala a 100% e-literate society by 2020— an ambition the policy addresses. So the policy is also about e-governance initiatives and bridging the digital divide in society.
Existing IT parks will be expanded and the government is planning “big-time” intervention in promoting private projects related to IT infrastructure creation, said the policy document.
On start-ups, the government said it expects a “quantum leap.” The policy points to schemes to incentivise start-ups; the government says it is willing to offer funding ranging between Rs2 lakh and Rs25 lakh per promising, eligible start-up.
The government has also come up with a sub-policy statement to discuss in detail eight focus areas including e-governance, ease of doing business, free and open source (FOSS) interventions, digital inclusion and cyber security.
The proposed sub-policies will also be updated every year “to ensure refining” of the policy framework “on the basis of the fast changing scenario in technology and its applications.”
If implemented, two of them, e-Governance and digital inclusion, hold the promise of a makeover for the governance structure in Kerala. They talk about creating a portal “which shall act like the face of the government towards citizens and businessmen” when it comes to service delivery, grievance redressal and payment transactions, among other things. Public authorities in Kerala were asked to notify the services that they can deliver online within six months from Wednesday.
The promotion of e-payment gateways and an e-Market Place System (to facilitate online procurement by various government units) are also in the works. The state also wants to promote Aadhaar-based biometric authentication for direct disbursement of subsidies; however it assured the public that no government services shall be denied to beneficiaries for want of Aadhaar.
The government spelt out plans to establish fiber optic connectivity to both the rural hinterland and the cities, through which it will provide free internet for below-poverty-line families.
The policy also suggested forming an advisory body with a team of experts from the public or private sectors in order to improve the state’s IT industry.
“Digital technology is imperative not only for the development of modern industries but for the general well being of the State also,” chief minister Vijayan said in a message ahead of the release of the policy draft. “This is possible through three ways. Firstly when IT is integrated with manufacturing sector its efficiency increases. Rendering of government service to people efficiently is the second possibility. Thirdly, employment opportunities can be generated by using the possibilities in software development and hardware production,” he said.