GovTech India : The New Government is Serious About These 3 Things

India’s new IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad spent a couple of hours listening to product startups and folks from ISPIRT yesterday. Earlier in the day, he spent time with the technology services companies.

The 3 key takeaways? Government is serious about

1. Broadband: The National Optical Fiber Network.
2. Local manufacturing of electronic goods.
3. E-governance reforms.

The focus on National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) is something we’ve heard from the UPA government as well for the last 10 years. Unfortunately, India is still has the slowest Internet speed in Asia. When I asked the minister, he said that the UPA government only talked and the Modi government will “DO.”

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Center Left & Right: Mohandas Pai & Ravi Shankar Prasad

Mr Prasad also holds the telecom portfolio. So I asked him: What of Mobile broadband? What I meant was 3G, 4G and such. Where am I coming from? Reliance has a pan India 4G license and has delayed launch by another year. Rest of the players are trudging along but nowhere close to meeting the rising demand. To bring in private investment, the government will have to deal with multiple disputes (including ones on taxation, privacy etc) and bring back investor confidence.

That went right over him (perhaps I should have articulated the question better).

Now back to the question of product vs services. As you probably know already, there are two distinct camps in the Indian software industry now– the services guys (Nasscom) and the product guys (ISPIRT). It is important to make that distinction so that policymakers pay special attention to the fledgling product ecosystem. (Read: What Should Be The Role of Government in Promoting Entrepreneurship?)

Clearly, the minister understands the difference. But he said that when he is at the ministry, he can’t afford to see things in silos. “But be assured, whatever the product industry needs from the government, will be done,” he said. Not bad for a start!