Tamil Nadu: ‘Interested investors can approach us … will ensure ease of doing business’, says IT minister T Mano Thanga raj | Chennai News – Times of India

Tamil Nadu’s brain drain in the IT sector to other states and in some cases other countries is a matter of serious concern. The DMK government is working towards putting brakes on this by creating a conducive ecosystem. IT minister T Mano Thanga rajin an interview to Jayaraj Sivan talks about the initiatives to ensure that startups flourish and IT majors set up new facilities and create employment opportunities. Excerpts:
Tamil Nadu has slipped from one of the top three states in software exports to being one among the top
What are your plans to regain the lost ground?
Our target is to make Tamil Nadu a technology hub and top software exporter in the country. Despite the state churning out 1.5 lakh IT graduates every year, we have provided employment to just eight lakh IT professionals till now. Qualified IT engineers are either going to other states and countries in search of jobs or they remain unemployable. We will put brakes on this brain drain and create a conducive ecosystem for startups to flourish and IT majors to set up new facilities here to generate employment opportunities. Tamil Nadu IT department does not know how many IT companies function in the state. No one has made any effort to take a head count. We are doing it now. We want to bring giants like Google, Facebook and Apple to Tamil Nadu. Anyone interested in investing in Tamil Nadu can approach me. I will ensure that there is ease of doing business here and they get clearances without delay.
Very few colleges in the state are focusing on innovations and emerging technologies. The government will take efforts to bridge this gap and focus on deep technologies, fintech, artificial intelligence and quantum computing. Improving the skill set of our engineers and taking IT services to the 12,534 village panchayats are high on the government’s priority. It will also improve rural employment. The CM has already announced seven new IT parks, most of which will come up in tier-two and tier-three cities and towns. We are considering the request for an IT park in Karur too.
Elcot has many buildings, which are unused. We are working on re-configuring Elcot facilities to make them compatible for startups, whose space requirement is minimal. We are in the process of studying the IT requirements. A policy shift is on the cards. It will provide answers to all the problems faced by startups. Tamil Nadu is paying the price for the last AIADMK government’s investor-unfriendly approach. It did not look like there was an IT department or IT minister in the state for the past 10 years. We have to make everyone believe that Tamil Nadu has changed and there will not be any delay in decision-making. Post-Covid, nothing is predictable, but with policy corrections, administrative changes, departmental intelligence and aggressive marketing, we are confident of surging forward.
Having talked about making digital space accessible to rural folk, how is it possible to do so without implementing the BharatNet project that is mired in a scam?
Tamil Nadu Fibrenet Corporation (Tanfinet) is working on taking fibre network to the hinterland. Of the four packages in BharatNet, only two are locked in litigations. We will roll out the remaining two shortly. We are confident of resolving the legal tangles. The government will abide by the court’s decision as regards the packages under litigation. This will take e-seva service to the doorstep of rural folk. Once it is implemented, there won’t be any requirement for students in villages to climb trees to get signals to attend online classes.
When will the government go completely paperless and depend fully on technology for governance?
The first step towards this is a paperless e-budget, which the finance minister has already announced. e-services and e-governance will progress simultaneously. Our IT policy stipulates that 0.5% to 3% of money allocated to every department should be used for the IT sector. The reality is different. In most offices, computers are used as typewriters and system operators are merely dataentry operators. To bring about a change, we have to start with training government employees. As per Tamil Nadu Business Rules, all IT and ITES activities come under the IT department. The previous government did not follow that. Most departments do not make use of Tamil Nadu e-governance agency’s services. Despite having an in-house Centre of Excellence, many departments outsource IT-related work to private agencies. It should stop, because apart from unnecessary expenditure, working on different platforms hampers system integration.
How effective is the ICT Academy in Tamil Nadu?
We have reviewed its functioning. It will be revamped to improve services qualitatively and quantitatively. The academy will play a major role in training teachers and improving the skill set of our students. The government is aware that tech giants are no longer interested in conventional degrees. We will address their needs and equip our students accordingly.


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