The headline may sound weird to some and others may find it offending but this is the truth and no one can deny it. Despite Goa having an IT hub, the app meant for the state was outsourced by the tourism department to Pune. The Goa IT Hub was set up considering the potential of Goans and availability of skilled manpower to handle the development of software industry in the state. Do we really have the potential for the IT industry in Goa? Is there availability of skilled manpower in the state to handle the IT industry? If there is, can’t they develop an App which can benefit the state from within the state and keep the funds within? Do the representatives elected by us have any foresight? Let us take a look at the above issue in the article.
The entry of the Parrikar government came with the so-called IT revolution in the state and it began with the distribution of desktop PCs to the students which eventually developed into laptops and Tablet PCs. Millions of rupees were spent by the state government from the taxpayer’s accounts but the outcome remained close to zero.
Soon the setup of a startup unit cum incubation centre at Verna for the development of IT industry in the state came into existence. The incubation centre has been made by spending a huge amount of money and resources. How many people used it and built a startup? None of them had the capacity to development an App for the Taxi Service? What was the reason behind the development of the Taxi App from Pune?
The Incubator at Verna was inaugurated by the then CM of Goa, Mr. Digambar Kamat, in the year 2011. As per the reports of Times Of India, “Young Information Technology (IT) entrepreneurs and IT graduates in Goa can now for the first time avail of the facility of an IT incubator called Goa Information Technology Innovation Centre (GITIC) at Verna Industrial estate.” Have you heard of any landmark development of software till date in the incubation centre for Goa?
The venture started in the Congress regime, was continued by its successors, but nothing much could be fetched from it; and the reason behind that was the lack of foresight. Now let us come back to the IT sector of Goa. There is no doubt that there are quite a few big names of startups in the state like BrownTape, having their offices in Porvorim, Transerve (Panaji), MobiEFit (Dona Paula), and Fleetrover (Panaji). Out of these few only one is Goa-based but works for the Canadian company. The Summary is most of them make money in Goa by utilising the resources, but none of them directly serves or generates the substantial amount of revenue for the state.
Now coming back to the recently held International Blockchain Congress (IBC) held at INOX courtyard for setting up Goa as the IT hub in India. The entire story of the IT Startup Seminar held in Goa was covered by one of the leading websites “Your Story” but it failed to convince the Goans that whatever is happening here is going to benefit Goa. If yes, then in what way and when? The IT secretary of Goa Mr. Ameya Abhayankar stated that “We want Goa to be the ‘startup capital’ of India. We want people to come here, settle, design, develop and come out with concepts and ideas.” But he failed to tell how the people will come to Goa to make it an IT capital when there is a huge shortage of infrastructure in the state. What will happen to Bangalore and Hyderabad?
Goa is not meant for the IT sector or IT development despite few startups having set up their base in the state that hardly contributes to its economy and technological development. They are here to enjoy the cheap rentals and facilities provided by the government besides partying hard in the weekends. “My place is 6 km away, but just 10 minutes from my office and my rent is a fifth of what I would pay in a far-off suburb in Mumbai,” Said Mohan Krishnan, the Chief Planning Officer of Prototype. The statement of Mr. Mohan suggests only one thing and that is he is paying peanuts towards the rentals he would have otherwise paid in Mumbai. But will that help the Goan government by getting any development from them for similar costs?
Coming back to the Goa-based startup firm FLEETROVER, they were supposed to have developed one state-of-the-art Fleet Tracking App for the Canadian company. Were they not capable enough then to develop a simple Taxi App for Goa Tourism? Perhaps Goa Tourism could not afford them and Pune based company managed to get the work done. What this suggests, is that the startup we are developing in the state is hardly contributing to the IT development of the state.
You cannot teach a fish to walk, or forcibly open the mouth of a person who doesn’t want to eat. Then how can you expect to build an IT network when the Goans don’t want it? These lands have remained rich in forests and biodiversity for ages. So was Bangalore. It was once called the Garden City. It used to be a cool hill station with gardens at every corner, a large banyan in the centre. Just like in Goa, people were invited to work there from across the country with its climate and environment being the USP. The IT industry came and it is all gone now. Bangalore ranks highest in pollution – air as well as water. It is so overpopulated with migrant IT workers that its original inhabitants have fled for calmer reaches. To travel by road is a nightmare. The entire cityscape has changed. Is this the looming future of Goa too?
Goa has great potential for tourism. Despite its existing fame as a holiday hotspot, a lot of improvement and development is possible in this sector. Goa is meant for the business of tourism and that is also going away with time due to various reasons. There is no policy called ‘tourism policy’ which can help the tourism in the state to grow, but there is an IT policy which hardly grows in the state.
Most Goan children go to other states for higher studies. Why? The education sector also needs a revamp. Better facilities, more active and learned staff, more opportunities and interaction between colleges of other states are needed. Food and hospitality sector is also big here but could use supervision and growth. Instead of looking into areas that would benefit the Goan people, the government is bent on turning Goa into a monster IT hub. Already a lot of space close to the airport has been cleared of tree cover to build apartments; the balding of Goa’s earth has begun. Will we be able to stop it before it’s too late?
Yes, Goa can provide experienced skill set employees. They need employment and opportunities. But bringing the IT here would take away more than what it could give. A job in hand but destroyed surroundings doesn’t give a happy employee. Instead of building an IT hub, great minds could get together and find other ways to benefit the people. Goans care immensely about their land. It is time the government recognized that and worked in sync with the people of the state.