India lags behind even Lanka in IT use

Pune, Nov 29 | Updated: Nov 30 2004, 05:30am hrs
India has chronically under-invested in IT in comparison not only to US, Europe and China but also compared to Sri Lanka and Egypt. It should not measure its success in IT merely by looking at its exports but also on the basis of IT use within the country, said chairman, Microsoft Corporation Pvt Ltd and member of CII National Council, Ravi Venkatesan. Microsoft has done a study with Nasscom on IT productivity in India and its impact on the economy and will be coming out with the report in January 2005, he added.

When it comes to IT penetration and IT use even in a state like Maharashtra, remove Mumbai and Pune, it falls short on most parameters, Mr Venkatesan said, at the third edition of Digital Maharashtra - Promoting competitiveness of knowledge-based industry organised by CII here on Monday.

Microsoft plans to expand in India and is also considering options of either expanding at its existing centres in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore or move to Chennai, Kolkata or Pune. While the Andhra Pradesh chief minister spoke to him and the West Bengal IT minister came calling, there were no such push from Maharashtra, which was not promoting Maharashtra aggressively. Mr Venkatesan said.

Maharashtra needed to make IT a priority. It would need to attract key light house companies to set up a significant presence in the state as the IT industry had a herd like behaviour, Mr Venkatesan suggested. Maharashtra also needed to lead the country in e-governance, he said.

Microsoft Indias focus in the country, Mr Venkatesan said, would be to look at education in a big way. It has signed an MoU with the Maharashtra for Project Shiksha, which is aimed at training teachers from government schools from January 2005.

The company will be coming out with the Marathi version of its Windows and MS Office products. This package for education institutions will be available at lower rate. Project Shiksha, to be done in association with NIIT, is aimed at training 80,000 teachers who in turn will teach 35 lakh students.

Microsoft India will be spending $20 million in India over the next three to five years in the area of education. A similar MoU have also been signed with the Karnataka and Uttaranchal also.