$ 100 billion! For a nation obsessed with cricket and Bollywood, the scorching pace at which the IT and ITES sectors are racing on IT Highway is truly exciting.

“This is a big story!'' says Rajendra Singh Pawar, Chairman of National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) and NIIT. During a free-wheeling chat with The Hindu, after receiving the prestigious Dr.Y. Nayudamma Memorial Award at Tenali on Saturday, Mr. Pawar said that from a mere $ 1 billion entity in 1990 when India shrug off the dust and embraced market reforms to a $ 100 billion industry by the end of March, 2012, the Indian IT industry is a remarkable success story.

With the IT exports contributing to 70 per cent of the magic figure and IT & ITES industry share in India's GDP steadily climbing, the future of India lies on the knowledge highway. Mr. Pawar said that by the year 2020, the IT-BPO industry is set to employ 30 million people, including 5 million women and 4 million work-forces from smaller towns. The rural BPO sector will generate jobs for 2 lakh people. The future is exciting for smaller companies too.

But there is more excitement in store. IT enabled services are reaching the tipping point this year. The National e-governance plan (NeGP) will see technology delivering government services that will touch, transform and ease their lives and bring them the comfort and convenience never imagined before. Services would be provided at door step through the Common Service Centres (CSC), State Data Centres (SDC) and State Wide Area Networks (SWAN).

Amazingly, the IT enabled service delivery systems are modelled on water distribution system, in which the SDC are the water storage tankers, SWAN is the piped network and CSC are taps. “We at Nasscom are enabling the companies to participate in key initiatives, like the UID project and 31 mission mode projects under NeGP,'' says Mr. Pawar.

Bottleneck

But the bottleneck remains the infrastructural deficiencies plaguing most states. Availability of assured power, skilled man power and infrastructure remain the major challenges as the country races on the IT high way. “We are steadily moving in to fill the gaps by equipping the states with the necessary bandwidth to power the projects,'' he said.

On the security front, the rules in manning the cyber security are changing fast. The Data Security Plan would ensure that data captured (demographic and biometric) shall at the point of collection be encrypted and transported to the Central Identities Data Repository where UIDAI will decrypt the data in a secure location and use it for the purpose of authentication.