Mr A Desai, a Goan who became the chairman of NASCOM (an IT decision-making body), was thrilled when he was knitted into the IT industry in April 1999. But Goa did not grab the opportunity that they could get from his appointment.
However, it was since 1989 that computer manufacturing units such as Zenith Computers and Tata Unisys now known as TCS would rule the roost, then.
Though the decision for starting the IT industry sector in the state emerged, more and more bookings were for industrial units and none for information technology (IT) units. Later, it was at the instance at the then chief minister Mr Luizinho Faleiro, who invited NASCOM director, the late Devang Mehta, to draft an IT policy for Goa. Goa lacked an IT directorate and so it came under industrial policy.
The director of industry issued a notification on April 8, 1988 of an IT policy, which was favourable at that time. Although the government took some time to kick start the IT sector, it created a small IT park in Verna.
The first IT companies were Control Net India Ltd and Burr Brown. Control Net thrived well in its product of software and system softwares until a global slowdown took a toll of the company’s business. A series of problems followed until it was taken over by Persistent Systems in 2005.
Burr Brown, which was into medical transcription and training, lost its focus mid-way resulting in allegations of fraud and what followed was insolvency. Overnight they vanished.
Comments that the sun had finally set on the IT horizon of Goa were doing the rounds. Then the Rajiv Gandhi IT habitat sprung out of nowhere, but again that was just a puff of smoke. What followed was `agitations and protests’, which virtually sealed the fate of the IT habitat.
There was absolutely no will, no method in the then government to nurture or develop IT in Goa. But in the IT lull that Goa was going through, there were some brave IT stalwarts such as IBM, Novel and Wipro that approached the industry monitor with the idea of starting projects in Goa, but the government played deaf and Goa missed the IT bus, a bus which could have determined – the direction and growth of the IT industry in 2001 itself.
Every year as many as 2,000 IT grads would leave Goa for better pastures. Mr Rodney junior, an IT graduate, preferred to stay back home and entered the floriculture business to eke out a living. “I would have been forced to live in Bangalore or Mumbai, which is nearest to Goa, and seek out jobs in companies such as Hewlett Packard,” he replied to a question, and he added, “There is no scope for me here, so I started selling flowers.” Almost all IT students have plans to leave Goa when they graduate.
Control Net, BB, Travel Pack, a call centre, NE Tech and more, ventured into Goa, but the government had no support, incentives nor facilities. The politicians were shamelessly forwarding bio-datas of people from their constituencies. Then IT minister, Mr Dayanand Narvekar, initiated some action and came out with an IT policy. Mr Nitin Kuncolienkar was the then GCCI president.
An IT programme called ‘Goa Agenda’ was initiated by the GCCI IT committee wherein National and International luminaries were invited to deliberate on what needed to be done to get IT related industries to Goa. Mr Manohar Parrikar was the CM then and the IT ministry was headed by Mr Francis D’Souza. There was no direction and the IT bubble burst again. The government changed. A lot of lip service was paid to IT by the Congress and IT virtually had a slow death.
Goa hardly has any major IT companies who have launched themselves here. The only big name in IT today in Goa is that of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
TCS has various software consultancy services to its credit such as in the banking, retail, manufacturing, hi-tech, engineering and industrial services and other domains including the BPO sector. The company has grown to a whopping strength of 260,000 employees with revenues exceeding $ 10 billion and still continues to grow, worldwide.
Based at Altinho, Mapusa, the software unit consists of only 100 employees which focuses on consulting and software services in the engineering and industrial space. TCS could be willing to expand in other domains as well, considering the fact that Goa has quite a large and varied resource pool. However, without the right infrastructure and IT park benefits, it would be very difficult to achieve this.
Goa needs an IT Park that could garner the state’s resource pool, which is readymade and leaves for greener pastures. The vast resource pool which comes from the five IT engineering colleges is not given due credit and they migrate elsewhere.
The lack of IT companies is one reason for leaving. The government needs to tap this IT resource pool, which rightly belongs to Goa. If the government is serious in implementing the IT Park, then it will easily rope in 70-80 per cent of our IT resource pool, said a source at TCS.
IT companies such as TCS, Digisol, Persistent Systems, NE Technology, D-Link, D Set Corporation and Mealite Systems and Solutions, which are just a handful of them today, will find an opportunity to expand if the Goa IT Park materialises, said IT sources. Till now, TCS is believed to be the only software and hardware company in Goa.
TCS business comes from abroad, so is with Smartlink and most IT companies. TCS’ manufacturing plant is the only one in the Tivim Industrial Estate. Its mainstream business is software consultancy services.