By Sachin Tiwari , Detail Talk
Emerging from the volume of notes that I made from the sessions at eIndia 2010 last week in Hyderabad, I can tell you that this certainly is an event which one needs to attend for an appraisal all things ICT happening, changing and at times transforming India. Although, the parallel tracks in governance, agriculture, digital learning, health etc made it difficult for me to attend all of them, I managed to attend some of the most interesting discussions.
A presentation by R.Chandrashekhar, Secretary, Department of Information Technology gave an illuminating start to the conference and set the perspective for things to come. Here are my notes from his talk.
IT growth story till now
The belief that ICT will be a key growth driver in the years ahead was supported by the statistics from the IT sector. The patterns he talked about were evident in the projects that were presented later on. Here are some figures:
- It has grown from USD 7.8 billion to USD 64 billion in a decade’s time.
- During the same period contribution of IT sector to the GDP of India grew from 1.2% to 6.1%.
- IT accounts for 20% of exports from India.
- 45% of incremental urban jobs is generated by this sector.
- It employs 2.3 million people directly.
- 70% of the workers in this sector are youngsters.
- 30% of those employed in the sector are women.
- 80% of the total turnover in this sector is from exports in IT.
- India has 51% share in the global off-shoring market.
Being a globally well integrated sector, it took a significant impact with the slowdown. While the economic slowdown transformed into a crisis worldwide, India IT companies still grew at 10% . Of course for a sector which is used to growth rates of 30% , this was a real slowdown. But what it indicates is that there was some potential domestically. The domestic market showed a robust growth and this now presents a significant growth opportunity for the sector.
What this means for India’s
What India realized perhaps a little later in the IT growth story is the role it could play in transforming the government-citizen, business-citizen and citizen-citizen relationships, as Chandrashekhar puts it. Along with this fast paced developments in mobile telephony proved to be a very potent tool in the hands of the masses granting them the benefit of information which almost instantly leveled the playing field. Mobile phones made an impact on every sector from agriculture to healthcare and governance. The lessons were clear for decision makers and for the people which was largely about how use of technology could change the way things work. This gradual realization of the potential of ICT has done a great deal to improve the public infrastructure and services countrywide and more needs to be done.
As the sector progresses further the central government now plans to leverage this potential to its full effect by starting the change at the policy level followed by several carefully designed ICT led initiatives in core areas of socio-economic development. These were the initiatives that were presented, discussed and debated upon over the course of the eIndia.
Initiatives by the government
With the growing demand for IT led implementations in several areas of governance and citizen services, the government has been shaping its programs in accordance with the needs. Some of these initiatives are:
- IT Research Academy to drive R&D in the sector.
- National Knowledge Network which would make the national infrastructure backbone.
- Program to train 10 million people in IT by 2020.
The National eGovernance Plan (NeGP) of 2006 was a landmark move which brought different initiatives under a common umbrella. NeGP has been initiated with a vision to deliver public services to every citizen in his/her local area in a cost efficient manner. While considerable efforts are being made by the state governments towards this, there are issues, which are to do with:
- Interoperability amongst the IT programs
- Continuous duplication (reinvention of the wheel?) of work done by a state by another.
The above factors are responsible for the slowdown of growth in the states.
- Challenges are largely about governance.
- The government structure is often like silos with no interaction and knowledge sharing amongst various departments. This has been a major deterrent to the success of the ICT programs.
- Centralized decision making: Often it is the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary of the state who have the power to take decisions on administrative, financial and operational matters. And parallel to this, at the national level it rests with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Secretary. This kind of a centralized system makes the projects too bureaucratic, time consuming and at times lead to failures.
About The Author
Sachin Tiwar , having schooled in various cities in India, he has a rather not so pleasurable experience attending classes. He is at home traveling and cycling around the countryside. He works at Baya Labs, a start up in scientific instruments and is a frequent contributor on Detail Talk . Contact him on Facebook.