But some say government has failed to address the issue of sustainability
The State Budget has received a mixed response from the information technology industry. While beneficiaries of entrepreneurship development projects and start-ups were all praise for the Budget, existing players in the industry said they were overlooked.
K.C. Chandrasekharan Nair, managing director of Technopark TBI and chief operating officer of Kerala State Technology Innovation Zone proposed on the Kinfra Hi-Tech Park at Kalamassery, was elated at the allocation of Rs. 25 crore for the project. “We had submitted a proposal for setting up a building with equal funding by the Central and State governments. Our proposal had been approved by the Planning Commission, which recommended that the Central government allocate Rs. 75 crore as required,” Mr. Nair told The Hindu.
The budgetary allocation of Rs. 25 crore is being seen as the State government’s contribution towards its share of Rs. 75 crore with the remaining fund being expected in due course.
Mr. Nair also said the budget maintained continuity from last year’s with allocations for student exchange programmes and college incubation centres. “This is a budget that has got its focus right by promoting start-ups and entrepreneurship, especially incentives to women entrepreneurs,” he said.
Sanjay Vijayakumar, Chairman of the Board of Governors of Startup Village, said the budget displayed a method in the way long-term- and short-term plans had been charted out and funds allocated for various programmes. An encouraging environment for future entrepreneurs had been put in place, from schools to engineering colleges to Silicon Valley.
“The budget proposes a great ecosystem for product-based start-ups unlike the service industry-oriented ecosystem prevalent across the country. That coupled with a landing pad for young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley will attract start-ups from across the country to the State. With investment in local talent, unlike IT power houses in neighbouring States, and laying strong grassroot-level supporting infrastructure, Kerala should turn into a hub for IT products in another three years,” Mr. Vijayakumar said.
He said the proposal to distribute Raspberry Pi, a single board computer, to school students would sow the seeds for future billion-dollar companies from the State. The distribution of start-up kits to college students would make possible creation of iPhone and iPad-based applications by local talents who were restricted to Android platforms because of affordability, Mr. Vijayakumar said.
Joseph C. Mathew, IT adviser to the Chief Minister during the LDF regime, was scathing in his criticism of the Budget, which he said had not proposed a single major project for the IT sector.
“There is a going back from the purported vision statement of the previous budget. Entrepreneurship development has been outsourced to certain groups creating a monopoly. What’s the point in giving Raspberry Pi computers to school children which would have been meaningful in the hands of engineers? It’s a single vendor-driven project even when there were many alternatives,” he said.
The Budget declarations on e-district betray lack of knowledge about the project. “The government has failed to introduce even the 70-odd services readied for deployment for the e-district platform during the term of the previous government,” Mr. Mathew said.
Anoop P. Ambika, secretary of Group of Technology Companies, said while the government was bent on creating new companies, the issue of sustainability had gone unaddressed. “There are about 400 locally developed companies in the State, majority of which are still struggling. The Budget has turned a blind eye to their needs. Entrepreneurship should be developed but there should be a strict screening process based on the creative quotient and entrepreneurial appetite,” he said.