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Build an IT Habitat In My Backyard

In the background of the colossal lag in the IT sector Goa faces Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar’s declaration that in seven years the state can outshine the southern states that have excelled in the sector might sound like an empty rhetoric. The signboard of the Rajiv Gandhi IT Habitat project at Dona Paula looked more like an epitaph to Goa’s IT industry. However, let us give Parsekar room for optimism: better late than never. And the IT enabled services (ITeS) sector which Goa is aiming to tap is growing by infinite multiples. For example, medical transcription, one of the scores of services in ITeS sector, which Goa is going to lure is a multi-billion dollar industry and growing at the rate of 6 per cent annually. Medical transcription involves documentation of medical records from voice to text format. Physicians record patient details in audio format and these details are outsourced to a medical transcription unit to decode and store in digital format. Medical transcription helps make data interpretation and analysis easy as patient health records can be stored in a structured format. Structured history and physical reports of patients are sought after by hospitals and physician groups. With a developed healthcare sector in Goa the state health department, the government and private hospitals as well as insurance companies could use electronic health records for automation of healthcare operations and offering better, safe and swift healthcare service to the patients.
Next comes animation. India’s animation industry generated revenue worth Rs 4,500 crore in 2014, a 13 per cent increase from the previous year, according to data from a FICCI-KPMG report on India’s media and entertainment industry. The industry is expected to double in size to Rs 9,550 crore by 2019 as Hollywood studios tap a large pool of low-cost, English-speaking animators who are familiar with Western culture. Hollywood’s major companies such as Walt Disney and Dreamworks are outsourcing animation work to companies in Mumbai and Bengaluru, largely owing to lower costs than it would take them in America but also for the quality they can be assured of. Animation companies in India have created crowd scenes and props for the Emmy award-winning TV series Game of Thrones as well as visual effects for Disney’s Maleficent and Dreamworks Animation’s ‘How to Train Your Dragon.’ The animation industry in India has attracted investments from some of the large business houses such as the Ambanis. Goa can with a little effort become another animation centre in India, close to Mumbai.
IT enabled banking services is yet another booming area Goa can tap. Use of IT has brought about a revolution in the operations of banking business. Every small and large bank has adopted IT enabled services to facilitate an effective payment and accounting system and provide remote delivery channels. E-banking is fast catching up in India with more and more banks embracing technology. A study found that Indian banks are aggressively using IT application as a strategic tool for promoting business development. The customers are delighted in making use of the e-banking facility. One of the sub-areas for Goa to tap would be ITeS that has strong client base among public sector banks, because PSU banks have been comparatively slower than the private banks in adopting ITeS comprehensively. The rate of adoption of ITeS by some of the PSU banks has been affected by factors, such as resources, return on investment (ROI) and volume of business. However, these factors are going to be overcome soon as there is no option for these banks but to adopt ITeS in a big way.
The state government, while striving to grab a share of the gigantic ITeS pie, cannot however afford to shut its eyes to the ‘Not in My Backyard Syndrome’ (NIMBS) that is prevalent in Goa. NIMBS has stymied and stonewalled countless projects in the state. When in January the Chief Minister announced that the Rajiv Gandhi IT habitat project would be shifted from Dona Paula to Chimbel, the Chimbel gram sabha passed a resolution rejecting the project. Usually, Goans have chased projects away brandishing anti-pollution sticks. But IT habitat was rejected by the Chimbel gram sabha even though it was non-polluting. Surely, there is a lesson for the state government. They have to work very hard to dispel wrong notions and win over villages where ITeS sector can be established. They have to also give local families a stake by providing employment and self-employment to them. Goa is well suited to develop as a knowledge economy and if it develops it can absorb not only village youth but also the state’s engineering and science graduates who have been migrating to Bengaluru, Pune and other cities for seeking jobs in the IT sector.

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