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New Andhra may scuttle Odisha’s IT dreams

The carving out of Telangana and N Chandrababu Naidu taking over as the chief minister of residuary Andhra Pradesh, has left stakeholders in Odisha’s IT sector a worried lot.

Though they do not admit it openly, stakeholders feel the new Andhra Pradesh under the dynamic leadership of Naidu would be instrumental in pulling IT investors, depriving Odisha of investments in the sector. In his stint as the chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, Naidu was instrumental in converting Hyderabad into an IT hub, drawing IT behemoths including the Microsoft Corporation. Many believe that he will leave no stone unturned in wooing the IT companies, especially to Vizag, in the residual Andhra Pradesh. Stakeholders feel despite the presence of four IT biggies- TCS (Tata Consultancy Services), Wipro, Infosys, Tech Mahnidra (former Satyam Computer Services), Odisha has missed the bus to compete with other IT hubs like Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad which have grown leaps and bounds in the intervening years.

“No developments took place in the IT sector between 2003 and 2008. Our competition is with the Tier-II cities like Vizag and Jaipur. We must not miss any opportunity this time,” said an IT stakeholder.

An official of an IT company on condition of anonymity said, “The Naveen Patnaik government which bagged a whopping 117 out of 147 seats in the state assembly in the just concluded polls, keeps itself busy in doling freebies without giving much thrust to the IT sector. On the contrary, the exercise to attract investors to the new Andhra Pradesh has already been launched by the Naidu government.”

Another deterrent for Odisha could be Naidu led Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP) coalition with the BJP led NDA. The regional Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is still dithering on extending support to NDA.

But government officials feel Odisha has an edge over the residual Andhra Pradesh with a stable political environment. “Odisha’s strength is the new and robust ICT (information & communication technology) policy-2014, replacing the old one. The policy meets the just demands of IT companies which is not in the case of Seemandhara region which has its own cup of woes with an unstable political scenario,” said a government official.

The new policy has set an ambitious target of ICT turnover of $ 4 billion by 2020, envisaging direct employment to 60,000 professionals, which the state government thinks is achievable if the projects are cleared in a time bound manner. “The next wave of investments will take place in the ESDM (electronics system design & manufacturing) sector which the state has geared up to bag the sector specific investments with the setting up an electronic manufacturing cluster (under a Central government scheme the approval of which is underway) at the Infovalley as the software industry is leaning towards saturation,” said a top IT department official. Ruling out any threat from residual Andhra Pradesh, Bijoy Kumar Sahoo, president, Confederation of Information Technology Enterprises (CITE) said, “The infrastructure required to attract the IT investors is somewhat, already in place in the state contrary to the new Andhra Pradesh.”


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