CXO Wishlist for ICT Minister A Raja

by Sonal Desai    May 29, 2009

While many in IT Inc. were pleased to see the back of A. Raja in the wake of various controversies over spectrum allocation, politically-bound Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has surprised the CXO community with his re-appointment to the same portfolio.

The dissatisfied CXOs have no choice, but build relationships anew. It will also be a tough task for the minister to reach out to the community and convince them to work together, and not at loggerheads.

Meanwhile, here are a few of the tasks cut-out for the IT minister. The Congress made an ambitious promise on the eve of the elections to connect all villages to a broadband network in three years, should it come to power. Now that the UPA is in power, Raja should comply.

Besides, he has to finish the incomplete works of upgrading technical capabilities of panchayat institutions and ensure that IT is used extensively to enhance their effectiveness. The IT ministry has already computerized land records, but bolder, time-bound initiatives are still pending.

The CXOs are hoping that the minister would do away with red tape while opening tenders, and maintain complete transparency (including containing bureaucracy) for future projects.

According to Ganesh Natrajan, CEO and vice chairman of Zensar Technologies, the new minister should make significant investments in physical, digital and social infrastructure which can boost the economy. He should also extend Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) scheme set up by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.

Vinnie Mehta, executive director, MAIT, wants Raja to focus on ‘mission mode’ projects, and IT penetration among SMEs. According to him, the government should promote local language computing with relevant content. Government should promote manufacturing opportunities in India, and encourage an effective ecosystem to harness IT benefits, said he.

Sudhindra Mokhasi, founder & CEO of e-Sutra, wants Raja to focus on open source, e-governance, wider last-mile Internet access, 100 million low-cost computers, education and financing.

"In a few cases, it’s probably better to let the incremental approach like converting post offices into e-service centers and creating higher density of Internet kiosks to take root before attempting ambitious plans like smart phones for bank access for all BPL population," Mokhasi told CXOtoday in an earlier interview.

Moreover, he should not undo what is already happening. Raja should now ensure that the government’s ambitious e-passport seva project, of which TCS is a major player, should move faster. This will encourage more and more people to participate in PPPs, said a CXO not willing to be identified.

According to him, Raja would do better if he takes hints from the BJP’s IT policy, which had a clear-cut vision of what should be done for IT industry, and how technology can be leveraged for the benefit of larger masses, which is now coming to terms with the concept of telemedicine and electronic payments.