Software Industry: Only Solution for Orissa’s Crippled Economy
Orissa has been occupying a banner headline in the front page of national newspapers or a major news item in the primetime news programmes of satellite channels. It may be the highest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the state or the Kalinga Nagar issue; Orissa always made an effort to attract worldwide attention in the business front. At the same time, Orissa has witnessed a tremendous change in the industrial atmosphere in the recent past. The Orissa government has been able to create a favourable, pro-active and friendly policy for the industrial growth of the state. We have stressed on large infrastructure development and communication network. As a result, a spectacular progress has been registered in the infrastructure development especially in the industrial-linked areas. The large chunk of mineral resources attracts many industries to invest in the state. During the course of time, the BJD-BJP alliance government signed 43 MoUs with private companies for the setting up of as many greenfield steel plants. The State government's Steel and Mines Department estimates the investment in these steel plants to the tune of Rs.1,37,157.85 crores. This is a about the pen and paper work but when we think about the ground realities, there many huddles to face by the state government and also by the industry.
This wave of industrialization not only threatens the state's air, water and wildlife but also makes the people of Orissa environmental refugees in their own land. The people's livelihoods are being destroyed by the so-called industrial blitzkrieg. According to environmental activist Mr Biswajit Mohanty, Due to the abysmal enforcement of pollution control laws by the State Pollution Control Board, environmental costs of production are negligible in Orissa since no one uses pollution control equipment such as electrostatic precipitators. As many as 64 sponge iron units in Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts have destroyed drinking water sources and agriculture fields, Mr Mohanty said. Besides that resettlement and rehabilitation are other major issues during the industrialization. In this process, we can not stop industrialization because it is essential for economic transformation. At the same time, we have to find out a way to overcome these hurdles and boost the state economy. The rapidly growing software sector can help the Orissa economy to reach at the dreamed target.
Information Technology (IT) is one of the most dominant and growing industry in the global economy today. The dynamic technological advancements in the Information Technology have reinforced the changes in the economy and social sector that are transforming the business and society. In view of this new kind of economy-information economy, the software development activity is expected to grow many folds in the coming years. This technology has resulted in the growing importance of the software services. No need to rehabilitate the tribes and no need to earn money by selling the precious metals. Software industry can solve these issues upto some extent. The over-drafted state can be paid monthly regular salaries to the employees and spend more money in health, education and other developmental activities.
The Chief Minister has taken all necessary steps to eliminate corruption. These steps are necessary to attract entrepreneurs but not sufficient. The government should build an image of integrity and efficiency of the state. Besides that the Government should create an investment friendly atmosphere through a completely transparent system. When the world entered into the digital age, still we believe in the tagged dusted files of government offices. One-door service is a new concept for the people of Orissa. Starting from telephone bills to appointment with a minister, we have to revisit the office at least the security guard start saluting just like a well known, influential person then only your file may be forwarded towards destination. The people of Orissa believe in hardcopy rather than softcopy or any digital document.
Now time has compelled to rethink on several issues. The first issue which really affects the IT industry is 'time factor'. We have to change our approach and prepare a 'time frame rule' for each function accomplished by the Government. As far as software companies are concerned, their should be one-door delivery process which not only consume their time but change their attitude towards the state. The second issue that hampers the development process in the state is the 'rehabilitation'. The cause of all displacement related problem really hampers the industrialization because of not having comprehensive resettlement and rehabilitation policy and if there most of these schemes are sectoral or project-specific. The government should work out a comprehensive resettlement and rehabilitation package for Orissa. Before drafting a rehabilitation policy, the committee should take a concrete decision on payment of full compensation for all losses to the affected people at replacement cost and their proper settlement through allotment of land and jobs, seeks to elevate the position of project-affected people to stakeholder by asking the industrial and mining companies to earmark some equity for them as preferential shares.
Besides that air connectivity, social infrastructure and manpower skills are the major handicaps to attract big players in IT and ITES sector. Infosys Technologies and Satyam have set up software development centres (SDCs) here. Wipro and TCS have acquired land for SDCs in Bhubaneswar but top ITES players, such as Genpact, HSBC, Accenture, Transworks, Progeon, have not yet started their operation from Orissa soil. At the same time, we can not deny that Orissa badly needs more financial resources and better delivery systems to uplift the living standards of its population who are belong to below poverty line. The efforts of Government to make an attractive destination for IT and ITES companies raise adequate financial resources to support anti-poverty programme. The Orissa's economy has always faced the problem of deficit budget and the returns of IT and ITES may plough back the state into the streamline track. Lack of adequate air connectivity to Bhubaneswar from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and other major cities is a big hindrance for the companies to divert from Orissa to other states. The first step is to improve Biju Patnaik Airport at Bhubaneswar to international standards and addition to that two more airports should be started operating from two major cities of Orissa. With a view to drawing up a comprehensive action plan not only for development of Information Technology industry in the state but also for accelerating the use of Information Technology in various sectors of the economy.
Lack of job opportunities for employment in Govt. and the organized sector is key concern of the state. The job prospects arevery bleak as many of the new investment projects are heavily capital-intensive and are thus unlikely to create new jobs for the local population, while the senior and managerial jobs in these projects are likely to be filled by persons outside the state. For improving the job opportunities in the managerial level, educational institutions will need to rise up to global standards to take advantage of the emerging job opportunities in the IT sector in the state in the globalize scenario. More than 18,000 Engineering, MCA & MBA graduates pass out each year and 50,000 general graduates pass out from colleges all over the state. Still there is a mismatch between employment opportunities and skill sets required by the employer. The state needs to produce more technical sound professionals to fulfill the requirement of software industry. In many cases, many Oriya software professionals prefer to work outside Orissa because of lack of job opportunities. If the state will able to create maximum number of software job opportunities in different parts of Orissa then Oriya software professional working outside Orissa, also willing to come back home state.
We must acknowledge that Kalingas once led Hindustan, as evinced by Relics like one of India's intellectual centers, serving as a beacon of knowledge and culture. To attract the attention of top software players and to unshackle from the debt-trap, Kalingas can resuscitate their leadership in the contemporary Indian intellectual process by establishing systems that no other state has embraced so far by which Government can make the state as an attractive destination for IT and ITES companies.