Vision to Put Goa on the IT Highway:
Goa has the distinction of being the first state in India to have an Information Technology Ministry, an Information Technology Department and was among the first to plan for a Hi-Tech Habitat, thanks to the vision of Luizinho Faleiro. As Industries Minister, in September of 1999, he invited his personal friend Late Devang Mehta, then NASSCOM President, to assist Goa in charting IT growth. Mehta obliged with no cost to the exchequer, due to his cordial relationship with Luizinho, who wished to seize the opportunity, to open avenues for Goans, especially in employment.
The IT Habitats were envisioned under the Union Congress Government’s ‘National Task Force’. Goa was chosen as one of the hubs, since it had good connectivity, high speed datacom links and internet, excellent support for the state government, good quality of life, predominantly English speaking work force and its potential as a tourist destination. Proximity to Mumbai, good starred hotels, good financial and banking institutions and general social climate were seen as favourable for developing Goa as an IT hub.
The concept: The Goa IT habitat was conceptualised to cater to the high standards of the IT Industry. It would have state of the art infrastructure with high speed data connectivity, communications and networking facilities, such that it would provide ease of functioning to both employers and employees. The structuration of the IT habitat was twofold — plots of IT majors to set up their own units and built up spaces for those that desired them. The built up spaces would have two types of environments –the Incubator or Plug and Play Model and the Deluxe Model.
The IT habitat would have supporting infrastructure such as recreation clubs, health clubs, convention centres and other facilities such as Banks, ATMs, Post Office, Shopping Arcade to make a mini-town within itself, besides 24×7 water and power supply and security arrangements.
Devang Mehta’s Draft Feasibility Report:
The Devang Mehta Draft Feasibility Report on the Hi Tech Habitat submitted to Luizinho Faleiro and the Goa Cabinet, suggested to invite core investors in the areas of Software Development, IT Enabled Services, Regional Software Marketing Offices, R&D Centres, Telecom Services, ISPs and local content development and E-commerce enabling companies. Besides these, the government could also explore the possibility of inviting networking, internet, telecom, hardware R&D, hardware manufacturing companies and those working on web enabled services.
The nature of companies to be set up would be of three types:
♦ Subsidiaries to be set up by a company
♦ Joint ventures with FDI and Companies which would be contracted out to third parties and
♦ Companies which would be contracted out to third parties.
The NASSCOM suggested strategies for Goa’s Hi Tech Habitat, which was then proposed to be set up at Bambolim were as follows:
♦ Goa would have to set up an IIT-M.
♦ Set up a Ministry and a Department of Information which was done, making Goa the first state in the country to have that distinction.
♦ Develop a whole set of marketing strategies to promote Goa as an IT Hub through a website, publicity material and other print media, trade fairs in India and Overseas.
♦ Publicise Goa’s Information Technology Policy.
♦ Trade delegations led by the Chief Minister and or Industries Minister would visit all the ‘Silicon Valleys’ to attract investments.
♦ A national IT seminar would be hosted by NASSCOM and Government of Goa by inviting Captains of Industry and entrepreneurs.
The report also documented complete feasibility including a marketing plan, a draft invitation document to potential investors as also a pre-qualification document. The IT Habitat as initiated by then Industries Minister Luizinho Faleiro, if implemented, had a tremendous potential to make Goa an IT Hub on the line of Hyderabad, Bangalore or Pune. As first off the blocks, Goa would have the advantage of creating vast opportunities and employment for its youth, but moreover generating revenues and creating another industry to upscale its GDP and standard of living. Till date the non development of IT industry remains a big vacuum in Goa’s industrial and employment scenario.