With the ‘Missile Man’ APJ Abdul Kalam, who hails from Tamil Nadu, becoming the nation’s First Citizen, the state is aiming to fire more missiles, but different from the lethal ones developed by Kalam’s team. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has announced the intention to fire her own missiles of Information Technology (IT) and ITES (IT-enabled services) as the weapons to usher in a new era of rapid development and prosperity for Tamil
The key components of this missile have been unleashed in the form of a new IT policy. The policy seeks to establish TN as a destination of choice for IT investments, upgrade quality of life of citizens through e-governance and IT applications in government, empower rural people to bridge the digital divide, to develop R&D initiatives and promote large scale use of Tamil in IT.
On offer are a host of fiscal concessions for potential investors in the State, exemptions from several regulations relating to environment, land zoning, labor policies, beefing up of physical infrastructure. Among the other highlights are making of computer literacy compulsory for junior government officials, computerization of a wide range of government institutions and inculcating a culture of digital interaction with the citizens in every possible way.
Many catchy phrases have been identified to build TN as a brand. Prominent ones are ‘destination of choice’ for IT investments globally, transforming the state from Inline to Online. The state will be positioned as the ‘BPO capital’ of the world, not just India.
Even the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the IT field can look forward 30 percent subsidy on the rent payable for participating in government-approved national and international exhibitions. The government’s decision to provide PCs and set up local area networks with necessary software for junior officers and upwards may open up a big market opportunity for local hardware and software vendors.
While all these policies are forward looking, the government could have done lot more. Many of these measures are tempered by caveats that may defeat the good intentions behind cutting the red tape for potential entrepreneurs. Given the overwhelming political dominance of the Chief Minister, she could have cut many of the Gordian Knots thrown at the entrepreneurs by the bureaucratic machinery. For instance, what is a capital subsidy of Rs 25 lakh for an entrepreneur who invests up to Rs 100 crore. The investor would rather be happy if he is handed over all the clearances in 24 or 48 hours so that he can start work straightaway. Or a deadline of 24 hours to hand over property registration documents would be more valued than the 50 percent concession on stamp duty and registration fee. There are several such pinpricks that divert an entrepreneur’s attention.
The investing world would be happy if such hurdles are removed in double quick time.