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A failed digital dream: This metal structure at Donapaula is one of the few remains of what was once touted as Goa’s first IT Park.

IT Park: High on hype

Allocation of land does not an IT park make. There is a lot that needs to be done from branding Goa as an IT hub, upgrading skill sets and drawing talent from outside to taking care of transport and housing. All Goa has succeeded in generating so far is a buzz with no tangible benefits for anyone, writes Michael Fisher

The state government’s decision to move the IT park from Dona Paula to the Kadamba plateau, at best, has generated a few columns of news. IT companies, medium and small are not impressed and the general belief is that this is just another case of the government crying wolf.

Sarvesh Parab, Heading HR at Schneider Electric India Pvt Ltd’s Goa Plant at Verna, says it is a lot more positive though. “It’s never late and there is a need to take immediate initiatives to set-up an IT Park in Goa.” Parab is a member of several decision-making committees in the government and private sectors.

The time is rife to take industries to a higher level by extending full support and making them environmentally friendly and that’s why Parab supports an IT park.

The decision of setting-up the IT Hub has been pending for a long time and is an unhealthy sign for the state. In the meantime, IT professionals have migrated to metros in neighbouring states where salaries are higher and potential for growth promising.

While the government lost precious time attempting to set up an IT park, smaller companies set up shop to form what could be called a scattered park. Now most entrepreneurs are of the view that the government must encourage small hubs in various parts of Goa or attached to industrial estates.

As time progresses, the concept can be further expanded and taken into IT Parks and IT Cities too. This initiative will help the state to have balanced IT industrial zones which will further balance the employment opportunities for qualified Goan youth which will retain IT talent.

Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai were successful in creating the IT roadmaps and now it’s time for Goa to achieve this milestone and to be in par with these states which are aggressively growing in the IT sector.

The government should take a leaf out of Andhra Pradesh and other states that are rolling out the red carpet for IT companies and according to the grapevine some Goan companies are considering moving to Andhra Pradesh. These states are charging Re 1 per sqm. All this time the government never had the will to attract IT companies, let alone have an IT policy.

Verna Industrial Association (VIA) president Prashant Shinde is more vociferous and wonders if the IT Park will see the light of day. He recalls that even after successive governments issued statements regarding the promotion of the IT industry in the past, none have been successful in providing the basic infrastructure to lure major IT giants.

“If the government is serious, it should first lure an IT giant and local IT vendors could set up their units around the giant as suppliers and as outsourcing vendors. Has the government thought of setting up the basic infrastructure such as uninterrupted power supply, high quality internet bandwidth, and transport facilitation? And what will be the capacity will the IT Park? 5,000 or 10,000 employees? If it is for the latter, then 10,000 people will come in at 9 a.m. and that many will leave at 6 p.m. every day. This will create choc-o-bloc chaos at the Kadamba plateau. Might as well set the IT Park in a more centralize place like Verna which has connectivity to airports, seaports and railways,” says Shinde.

 

Get IT basics in place

Milind Prabhu, CEO of Genora Infotech, a UK company, e-mailed questions to major IT companies, national and international, and to his surprise learnt that companies are aware of Goa’s infamous failure to start an IT park.  Instead they gave suggestions on how to upgrade existing facilities before embarking on plans to start a park.

Internet: We have procured a 16 MBPS broadband network that has been consistent with speeds and service for past 2 months. The cost for which has been less that 10 per cent of the cost being paid for our Goa facility and with unreliable services. BSNL and GWAVE were notable service providers for our company in Goa. Good internet speeds is a basic need. Telecom network should identify industrial areas and set up high speed connectivity at least in these areas.

Resource migration: Pune attracts a pool of talent from across the nation. Goa is not recognized for IT and hence candidates find it difficult to associate a successful career opportunity in Goa. This scenario can change with branding Goa for IT. Also, Goan resources tend to migrate to Pune and Bangalore in search of better prospects. Goa to some extent has become a training ground for a better jumpstart outside. This restricts the growth of start-ups.

Resource availability: There is a lack of skilled resources in Goa. Also there are not enough facilities for training and career counseling. However, there are significant number of training institutes in Pune providing specialized training and career guidance. Encourage career guidance at college level, encourage students to acquire technical expertise during their course curriculum. Industry players should also contribute towards this initiative.

Career oriented approach: Most engineers from Goa-based engineering colleges are focused towards graduation rather than building skill sets or trying something innovative. They also lack personal skills as well. Industry should pick up a few students (during their final year project) and thoroughly guide them towards executing a masterpiece. There should be rewards in the form of competitions for top IT projects with decent remuneration. Also media coverage at the student level to appreciate their work would add on to this. This would create reference points for juniors and inspire them to take up challenging and innovative products. This could spark the innovation and the industry would benefit from the same.

Need to get together: ​Working with various IT industries in Goa on different projects, I have realised that there is a lack of platform for Goan software companies to discuss and present their issues and views. A common body has to show results in the form of benefits for IT in Goa. It is then, when a company believes that their voice will be heard and acted upon, they will feel the need to stay united. It is only through unity that we can work towards common causes. Once the companies get together a lot of other issues including resource training will be taken care of.

Home town attitude: ​We have to encourage external talents to come and work in Goa. If we rely on the local talent completely then it is difficult to get higher productivity. External work force is willing to put in extra efforts and this culture can then be enforced on to local talent as well. More than transport availability the attitude of any home crowd to rush back home is creating the problem. There has to be a balance with the external talent migrating to Goa. Branding Goa for IT nationally will play a key role in this shift.

Clean city approach: ​Although IT at the production centre is a non-polluting industry, it has its impacts on nature outside the production centre. Unorganised constructions to accommodate for migrating crowd, and unorganised transport network might prove hazardous to Goa’s unique identity. Growth has to be planned right from providing internet facility to encouraging modern techniques of construction to avoid dust pollution. A simple question is what happens when one big company sets up its base in Dona Paula of the Kadamba plateau with a 10,000-workforce. This is creating a 10,000 additional crowd that leave from office at the very same time. Can our city take this load during peak traffic hours?  A complete plan developed in consultation with external experts is a key to balance growth with Goa’s identity.​

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