Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bihar can be the next top IT location: Deputy CM Modi

BANGALORE: Bihar, till recently the perpetual back-bencher of India when it came to development, has recently spun a success story by clocking a

growth rate of 11.03% in 2008-09. Biharis, who had left their state are walking back home as job prospects turn promising and the IT sector there offers them just what they are at present enjoying elsewhere in the country, deputy chief minister of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi told ET in an interview. Excerpts:

How will Bihar sustain its growth momentum?

We have received proposals worth Rs 1,33,000 crore from a number of industries, which we hope will take shape in the next one year. For the current fiscal, we have targeted a plan expenditure of over Rs 16,000 crore. We will focus on the IT sector as soon as our IT policy which offers a number of incentives to entrepreneurs, is implemented. There are a large number of IT professionals from Bihar working all over the world.

Bangalore alone has some 1.25 lakh engineers from Bihar. As the cost of living is rising in cities like Bangalore , IT companies are now looking to tier-1 and tier-2 cities such as Patna and Jaipur. Because Bihar has a large IT manpower, we are making efforts to make it the second IT destination after Bangalore. We are already in discussions with many IT companies to start their offices in the state.

What about the availability of skilled labour in Bihar?

There was a severe shortage of engineers , doctors and other professionals , as many of them had drifted to other states or abroad in search of jobs. The scenario is changing now as hundreds of these professionals are coming back and new jobs are opening up. Migration of labourers has also come down drastically, due to which states like Punjab, Haryana and Mumbai are feeling the heat because reverse migration is impacting their agriculture sector.

These labourers are getting jobs in Bihar as sectors like construction, tourism, hospitality and retail are expanding. Earlier, jobs had disappeared, infrastructure was chaotic and lawlessness was widespread. Some 10,000 businessmen left Bihar in the last 15 years. Now, businessmen are not leaving the state and many are returning.

What are the steps being taken to make Bihar tech-savvy ?

We are at present computerising all the government departments which will make processes like e-filing and e-returns more easy. Various e-governance initiatives starting from the panchayat level to state government headquarters are taking shape and it will take another six months to be completed. Now, an inter-tax payment system is being introduced by the sales tax and excise departments. And thousands of centres will be available through this.

What are the investments being planned for education sector?

There are proposals to build 19 superspeciality medical colleges, 23 engineering colleges and a couple of management institutes in five years. The government has recruited around 2 lakh teachers and plans to invest around Rs 10,000 crore in education.