IT Taskforce
Taskforce Diary


Minutes of the Meeting of the National Task Force
Venue: Conference Room of "Sahyadri", Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai
Date: 18 June 1998

 

The National Task Force held a meetings in the Conference Room of 'Sahyadri', Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai on 18 June 1998, under the chairmanship of Professor M.G.K. Menon, Co-Chairperson of the Task Force, to discuss the development and growth of the Information Technology in the State of Maharashtra as well as conducting a brain-storming session for obtaining information inputs to policy making in research, design, development and missions in Information Technology. The list of participants and special invitees is given in the list at Annexure-I.`

2. The Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra, Shri P. Subrahmanyam, addressed the Task Force and other invitees. He commended the Government of India for according the most dynamic sector of the Indian economy, the priority that it deserves as reflected in the National Agenda for Governance and the Union Budget. He expressed confidence that the Report of the Task Force would help to promote Information Technology industry outlining the initiatives taken by the State Government in IT. He stated that the State Government, in March 1995, formulated a new Industry, Trade and Commerce Policy with a Mission statement as 'Empowerment of people at all levels', with Information Technology as one of the thrust areas of the Policy. He stated that the plan of the State is to leverage the huge HRD base of over 100 Engineering Colleges, a large number of polytechnics and institutes to achieve the 'empowerment through connectivity' as the main objective of their IT endeavour. The Chief Secretary further outlined the strong initiatives in the development of Information Technology taken in the State beginning with SEEPZ to INFOTECH Park at Vashi in Navi Mumbai, the Millennium Park in Trans-Thane Creek Industrial Area in Navi Mumbai, development of Pune as the Cyber City, creation of Software Technology Parks, building up of a major software complex at Balewadi near Pune, STPI at Nagpur, among others. He announced that an amount of Rs. 50 crores is provided in the current year's Budget to computerise the entire working of the State Government. He outlined Maharashtra's plan for setting up a School-Net throughout the State.

The Chief Secretary outlined the immediate challenges before the State Government as adequate creation of capacity for Internet connectivity, setting up of adequate number of satellite earthstations/VSATs, strengthening the Optical Fiber network of DOT along the five National Highways connecting Mumbai, Nagpur, Nasik, Sholapur, Pune and Ratnagiri by covering a number of other towns along this backbone, spread of Internet applications, creation of global software cities, etc. He welcomed the concept of formation of a Global Software City as outlined in the Task Force Background paper.

3. Shri Sudheendra Kulkarni of Prime Minister's Office and Shri Soumitro Shankar Das, Consultant, made a presentation of 'Wired Villages Project' which is being implemented in Warana Nagar in Maharashtra. Warana Nagar is a cooperative village complex located about 20 kilometers from Kolhapur in Maharashtra, which is considered to be one of the most successful cooperative village projects in the country encompassing 70 villages. The objective of the pilot project is to utilise IT to increase efficiency/productivity of the existing cooperative enterprises, link up villages to provide all information and facilities for villagers at their own centres for their needs related to the economic and social activities, to develop IT process centres that are economically feasible and work out a horizontal know-how transfer methodology for transferring the experience in this pilot project to help the implementation of other Wired Village projects in the country. The project is being implemented with the help of NIC, CDAC, Government of Maharashtra, and Government of India.

4. Dr. Lalit S. Kanodia suggested for consideration of the Task Force, the following ideas:

  1. Creation of employment through IT; The demand is far above the supply.

  2. All laws at present are not favourable to the creation of Indian multinationals; This position has to be changed.

  3. A MITI like structure has to be created for ongoing collaboration between the business and the Government

  4. The existing zones function more like export processing zones and not as free-trade zones; It is necessary to eliminate all shackles.

  5. IT infrastructure should be used to give impetus to increase the velocity of business.

5. Prof. D.M. Dhamdhere of IIT Mumbai recommended the following measures for consideration of the Task Force:

  1. R&D funding agencies should reserve certain quantum of their funds for basic research.

  2. IT Industry should be given new incentives to give a boost to inhouse R&D.

  3. Collaborative R&D and Technology Development by the academicia and the IT industry is important. IIT Mumbai/TIL experience shows the feasibility and advantages of this model. Emulation of this model at other institutions should be encouraged for initiating which suitable incentives should be given.

6. Dr. Nagendra Karmarkar of TIFR, advocated that India initiate measures similar to what Bell Telephones has done in USA for protecting their intellectual property rights of their inventions. In India, awareness regarding protection of inventions and new ideas is not high especially among the academicia and R&D institutions. Scientists should be made aware of the need to protect their ideas and inventions.

Dr. Karmarkar advocated that Degree Certificates should be awarded only after a person works in India for atleast for six months.

7. Shri Sundheendra Kulkarni stated that there is need to collect all information about research output of various institutions and prioritise them. A Directory of IT Projects should also be developed. He further suggested that attention should be given for setting up Knowledge Corporations in future.

8. Commodore Prem Chand suggested that collaborative efforts should be taken for identifying IT products which have dual use for defence and civilian sectors. He promised to submit to the Task Force a note giving concrete suggestions for such collaborative efforts.

 

9. Shri Chandrasekharan, Secretary (Information Technology), Government of Andhra Pradesh, suggested that deemed university status should be given to the IIITs set up through the initiative of the Central or State Governments immediately without waiting for the three years experience.

10. Dr. B.D. Pradhan suggested that the definition of IT products should cover telecom products as well as IT software should cover telecom software.

Dr. Pradhan also suggested that we should exploit R&D skill in the country in designing Asyc chips where we can develop products in conjunction with big industries. In telecom, there is considerable scope for design and development.

11. Dr. Kanodia pointed out that India produces 60,000 Post Graduates (MCA) per year as compared to 30,000 in USA. He further suggested that the stock option - ADR/ GDR should be given to Indian Stock Market also as per Verma Committee/SEBI Report which is likely to be available by July end. He stated that there is need for minimising the cost of telecommunication. He pointed out that in China, the Software specialists in Software Export companies are paid in dollars and dollar earning is not taxed and the same should be followed in India also.

12)Professor Shyam Sundar of TIFR advised the Task Force to discuss with the six leading Chip manufacturers in the world by offering attractive terms for putting up their plants in India.

13. Dr. S.P. Mudur of NCST pointed out that for doing good research, money is not the only criterion; at present a congenial research environment is absent and no peer pressure is created for doing research. If there are ten top ideas for software development, the country should have a mechanism to support a sub-set of them to the hilt from research to commercialisation. Even if a few of these ideas fructify, the country would have made big strides. In competitive advantage of the country, Knowledge cumulation has to be recognised as an important factor. In World Standard Committees, the country has not made any impact. This situation has to be corrected.

14. Shri H.K. Kaura of BARC stated that for continuity of projects, continuity of manpower is essential. With continuous poaching of each other's specialists, a number of projects in the country are loosing continuity and getting handicapped. Some policies have to be devised to remedy this situation.

15. Dr. A.S. Kolaskar of University of Pune broadly outlined a proposal to gain leadership position in Bio Informatics. He outlined an Action Plan in terms of manpower creation, establishment of Mirror Sites of Databases, Development of Patent Databases, Software Tool Development, Networking and Virtual Reality Laboratory. He estimated that an initial investment of about Rs. 250 crores with sustained input to the level of Rs. 150 crores per year in Bio Informatics area will make India a leader in this area within the next five years.

16. Professor P.V.S. Rao of TIFR suggested collaborative research in a number of areas including Railway Reservation System, Paperless Office, etc.

17. Dr. R.K. Arora of CDAC pointed out that we are lagging in multi-institutional Mission projects. He suggested a few Mega projects like High Performance Computing and Communication Technologies, Wireless in Local Loop Technologies, PC Penetration through local languages, low cost PCs, development of Set Top Box, etc.

18. Summing up, the Chairman, Professor M.G.K. Menon, suggested that we should identify 10 to 15 Technology Missions in IT, implementation of which should bring in not only new technologies, but also new services.

19. Shri S. Swarn of Electronics Today pointed out that the liberalisation which started in 1991 has progressively de-emphasised research and development as well as manufacture. On the IT Hardware Industry, Shri Swarn suggested that we should give emphasis for the development of Digital Consumer Electronics Products as well as the setting up of Mega fabs in the Mission mode as suggested by Professor Menon. He further diagnosed that there is urgent need for setting up a strong base for components and policy should be worked out which intrinsically favoured this.

20. Shri Rajendra Pawar cautioned that priority for thrust for IT projects should be carefully identified and implemented. He stated that IT can become the base for collaborative research. Shri Rajendra Pawar identified two dimensions to the manpower issues - IT literacy and skilled manpower for IT. He suggested that working groups be set up to talk to the software industry regarding manpower estimates and planning, identify the needs and numbers, make a base line, develop mechanisms like those required for connecting formal and non-formal system, etc.

 

 

 

ANNEXURE-I

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS

 

 

Task Force Members

 

1. Prof.M.G.K.Menon,                                                                                     Co-Chairperson of the
    Former Minister of State for                                                                       Task Force
    Science & Technology

2. Dr.N. Seshagiri,                                                                                           Member-Convener

Special Secretary,

Planning Commission &

Director General,

National Informatics Centre

3. Shri Rajendra S.Pawar,

Vice Charman & Managing Director

NIIT Limited

4. Shri Dewang Mehta,

Executive Director,

NASSCOM

5. Shri T.H.Chowdary,

Formerly Chairman-cum-Managing

Director, VSNL,

Information Techology Advisor

to the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh

6. Shri Sudheendra Kulkarni,

Director (Communications & Research)

Prime Ministerís Office

7. Shri Anil Bakht,

Chairman & Managing Director,

Eastern Software Systems Ltd.

8. Maj.Devender Kumar,

Additional Director General(Telecom)

Directorate General of Signals,

Army Headquarters

9. Commodore Prem Chand,

Additional Director General,

Weapons & Electronics System Engineering Estt.

List of special invitees:

1. Professor P.V.S.Rao,

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research,

Mumbai

2. Professor Rudrapatna K.Shyam Sundar,

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research,

Mumbai

3. Dr.S.P.Mudur,

Naitonal Centre for Software Technology,

Mumbai

4. Dr.Lalit S.Kanodia,

Chairman,

Datamatics Consultants Ltd.,

Mumbai

 

5. Prof.B.Nag,

Mumbai

Shri Chandrasekharan,

Secretary (Information Technology)

Government of Andhra Pradesh

7. Shri Suresh Kumar,

Principal Secretary,

Govt.of Maharashtra,

Mumbai

8. Shri D.P.Bobde,

Senior Technical Director,

National Informatics Centre,

Pune

9. Dr.R.K.Arora,

Executive Director,CDAC,

Pune

 

10. Prof.A.S.Kolaskar,

Bio-Informatics Centre,

University of Pune

11. Shri S.Swarn,

Editor,

Electronics Today,

Mumbai

12. Shri B.K.Syngal,

Chairman & Managing Director,

Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited,

Mumbai

13. Shri H.K.Kaura,

Head,

Computer Division,

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre,

Trombay

14. Dr.Nagendra Karmarkar,

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research ,

Mumbai & Visiting Professor,

Indian Instt.of Astrophysics,

Pune

15. Shri K.R.Gupta,

Chief General Manager,

MTNL, Mumbai

16. Dr.B.D.Pradhan,

ICO Global Communication Holding,

Mumbai

17. Prof.D.M.Dhamdhere,

Head,Deptt.of Computer Science & Engineering,

Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai

18. Shri Deepak Parikh,

Chairman,

Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation, Mumbai

19. Prof.S.G.Sahsrabudhe,

Deputy Director,

Indian Institute of Technology,

Mumbai

 

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