Rajasthan, which is famous for its historical forts, magnificent royal palaces, traditional food and tales of brave Rajput kings, is now all set to make its new identity in the field of information and communication technology in the country.
It is trying to become the first state in India to create an IT infrastructure that people can use for their personal as well as professional gains. The recently-held two-day long digital festival in Jaipur was the first step in that direction.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who visited the festival and interacted with startups and young entrepreneurs, said that by making Rajasthan an IT hub of the country he is fulfilling the dream of former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi.
“We are making our best efforts to fulfill the dream of late Shri Rajiv Gandhi so that every section of the society - be it a laborer or an industrialist - should get the benefit of the growth and services provided under the information technology,” Gehlot said.
More than 30,000 people visited the festival which witnessed over 60 IT-based startups from various fields such as sports, medical, tourism, local products, robotics, and drone technology among others.
Besides, some of the top angel investors, mentors, speakers and IT leaders from the top companies attended the festival and shared their valuable thoughts and experiences with the budding entrepreneurs.
“We also held a small job fair where around 500 aspirants came and out of them 84 were selected for various roles in the IT sector. It also provides a kind of platform where youngsters with business ideas won funds from angel investors,” Tapan Kumar, Joint Director, Department of IT & C, Govt of Rajasthan, said.
He added, “The festival showcased the enterprising capabilities of youngsters with their unique business ideas and at the same time it also encouraged young students and visitors to understand the IT-enabled startup ecosystem and make a career in it.”
Besides holding a digital festival, the state government is also working aggressively to create techno hubs, incubators and advanced technology training centers which will create an eco-system where all the stakeholders including academia, industry, service sector, startups youth, government, and most importantly people at large participate.
According to a government press release, the Chief Minister inaugurated world class incubation centres in Kota, Bikaner and Churu . "The centres have been set up in these three districts after Jaipur, Udaipur and Jodhpur to provide better facilities to startups in the state," it said.
Akhil Arora, Principal Secretary & Commissioner IT&C at Department of IT&C, Government of Rajasthan, spoke to Outlook and said that the government in Rajasthan wants startup and IT ecosystem to cater to all, to facilitate all and to handhold all.
“Government creates public facilities like roads which people use for all purposes, be it government-related work or their personal needs. Similarly, we want to develop IT as a part of social infrastructure,” Arora said.
He added, “We are ready to allow uses of our data center, our IT infrastructure, the network for the benefit of people, corporate entities and everyone the way they are using roads and electricity.”
Gehlot also inaugurated the Rajiv Gandhi Centre of Advanced Technology which will serve as a training center to produce high-end IT professionals. Top IT companies such as SAS, Oracle, Red Hat, and Cisco have partnered with the state government for a long-term sustained relationship.
They have launched their own courses and under the current scheme of things, they will assess and certify the students to make them industry ready as a part of the capacity-building initiative.
When asked how cities of Rajasthan will be different from Bengaluru, Cyberabad and Pune which are top IT hubs of the country, Arora says that these cities are providing manpower to take care of IT projects of body corporate cutting across the globe but they are not providing hassle-free service to their own population.
“Rajasthan is coming up as an IT hub which will take care of the needs of its common citizens as well as industry requirements,” Arora said.
Talking about opportunities for skilled and trained high-end IT professionals in the state, Arora said that though there is no bar on our youngsters to travel to any state or country to work yet the state government is creating the best opportunities and facilities too.
“Top companies are setting up their offices here. Besides, many industries in the state require high-end IT manpower. Our own IT project for service delivery needs high-end huge manpower to develop, maintain and carry them forward,” Arora said.
Participants of the festivals were quite excited with the response of visitors but they want more such events to keep the momentum going. “It is a good effort but I believe a sustained effort is the need of the hour,” one of the entrepreneurs who participated in the fest, said.
According to many independent IT experts, such initiatives will pave the way for better use of IT services for common people.
“It is a noble initiative by the Rajasthan government to bring up an IT infrastructure which will cater to the needs of its citizens. I think this is in line with the Centre’s thrust to focus on IT as a solution provider for the common citizen,” Mayank Bidawatka, Co-Founder of Koo App who himself belongs to Sikar in Rajasthan, said.