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Taking a cue from the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, as Chief Minister, Luizinho Faleiro saw that IT could bring about a virtual revolution in Goa with potential to redefine business eco systems, redefine production, harness expertise, create employment and tackle the many problems that dogged industry, governance, health and welfare sectors. Therefore, Luizinho roped in the expertise of his personal friend, and the then NASSCOM President Devang Mehta and others and drafted the Information Technology Policy of Goa 1999, making Goa the first State in India, to have an IT Policy.
POLICY ACTION PLAN:
Under the Action plan, Goa set up:
♦ The First ever Ministry of Information Technology
♦ The First ever Department of Information Technology
♦ The First Information Technology Authority.
♦ The First Information Technology Council
♦ A Software Technology Park with a Software Technology Park Authority as a single window to give approvals for new IT companies wanting to set up shop in Goa. Besides
♦ Margao-Verna-Vasco-Panaji-Mapusa software development Super-Corridor
♦ Bringing in more IT Industries in Goa to make it one of the leading IT States in India
♦ Attracting Multinationals and NRIs to set shop in Goa,
♦ A High Powered Goa Infotech Council to guide the government and
♦ Promoting Computer Peripherals industry in a big way were proposed.
Potential: The IT policy could potentially give a head start to Goa through:
♦ Development of Software and allied services for exports to earn increased foreign exchange,
♦ Increase the quality of employment in software industry, enhance production and boost the economy, ♦ Create demand for indigenous products and services of local producers,
♦ Introduce e- Governance in major way to make administration,
♦ Catalysing use of IT in education to enhance skill development,
♦ Reduce the cost of IT and consequently reduce the cost of doing business,
♦ Augment IT in health, entertainment and leisure sectors,
♦ Invite Major Indian software and hardware players to Goa with fiscal and regulatory incentives, thus linking the IT boom to employment generation.
IT in Governance: In Governance IT would primarily be used for improving responsiveness, delivering services and bringing administration closer to the citizens, through E-governance. All departments would be networked with the Secretariat for improving efficiency. Tax collection, statistics collection and analysis, budget making and meeting welfare scheme targets could be done more effectively. The departments/district headquarters would be linked through video conferencing with the Chief Minister’s office. Additionally, Data Processing Centres would be set up in cities and towns to proliferate employment.
IT in the Education Sector:
Luizinho Faleiro saw that a complete overhaul of the education system was exigent to create job oriented skilled workforce and employability by harnessing IT in Education. Curricula could be developed through IT for customised learning, reduce behavioural issues, boost creativity, improve access to information and improve learning capabilities. In short, IT would augment higher standards of scholastic attainment.
By introducing IT in Education, Luizinho envisaged:
♦Specialised Computer Schemes including cutting costs of computers through corporate donations etc,
♦ SMART schools with Training of Teachers to be content and methodology creators,
♦Setting up of a world class International Institute of IT and Management ( IITM) to steer the IT in Education initiative,
♦ Training elder students to meet requirements of domestic and export markets and ♦ Training of Trainers in IT,
♦ An Autonomous body to oversee the process of accrediting state of the art educational facilities,
♦ A virtual training Institute, world class computer and IT education at the doorstep of every Goan.
IT in the Industrial Sector: In industry the focus was to be laid on Telecom, Banking, Logistics and Ports among other sectors. The Department would be the principal promoter of the proposed Software Technology Park Authority Goa, and the Goa Information Technology Council would anchor the government’s efforts in steering the march of Goa as an IT major. Simultaneously, the department would network with various agencies to expand the communication networks and the infrastructure and bring the internet to Goa in a major way.
IT in Health:
In the Health Sector, IT would work to upgrade know-how and exchange data between ‘Tertiary and Primary levels’ and ‘Private and Public Sector’ and vice versa, through a State Level Health Network to upscale health standards in Goa. Medical consultations and expertise could be availed over a network which would connect all citizens. Tele-monitoring of diseases from hospital to home, care and preventive medicine, and the concept of “cyberdocs” was also inbuilt into the IT policy, wherein expertise from health care would be sourced. The Policy envisaged a connect with bodies such as The International Red Cross and proposed a Global Health Network University and a Global Health Network Research Server.
IT in Economic Sector: The IT policy proposed to give much needed fiscal incentives to the software and hardware industry in Goa, such as waiver on capital goods tax, sales and entry tax of all IT products, waiver on SIL license tax and on Registration and changes in land use. The non-fiscal incentives were –permission to set up offices in residential areas and maintain company records in electronic form, which at that time did not fit into the government requisites. The hardware manufacturers were to be incentivised by giving priority in permissions and connections, exemption from the registration process and purchase of agricultural land. The Software Technology Park Authority headed by a Director, would be the licensing authority and include personnel from related departments for quick processing.
IT would be augmented in the Entertainment and Leisure and tourism sectors where tourists could view virtual reality presentations, make reservations and interact with State Tourism Department or Corporation or private players from their locations.
This farsighted and progressive IT policy initiated by Luizinho Faleiro, even today, has the potential of radically transforming Goa, improving Governance, Health Care, Education, Industry, Leisure and other sectors. Goa’s bane has been the apathy and half hearted efforts of successive government towards IT. Comparatively, cities such as Hyderabad, Bangalore and Pune, have shown results in good measure in augmenting software development, job creation and exports.