Proud presence

Published : Aug 28, 2009 00:00 IST

The office of STPI-Bangalore. STPI has set up more than 53 centres and sub-centres across the country.-BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The office of STPI-Bangalore. STPI has set up more than 53 centres and sub-centres across the country.-BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

TO say that Bangalore is a popular destination for people from other States is an understatement. The citys pleasant weather and cosmopolitan culture are a big draw, particularly for information technology professionals seeking opportunities in Indias Silicon Valley. The good housing facilities and large number of quality educational institutions are important factors that bring professionals and others to this expanding city of more than 60 lakh people. The local people speak of Bangalore as Karnatakas pride, a sentiment that is shared by all residents, many of them software or other professionals working in some of the best institutions in the country.

In fact, besides IT and biotechnology companies, Bangalore boasts several Central government organisations/departments, many of whom consider it a privilege to be there. As with most of the workplaces, private or otherwise, associated with the city, these organisations too are adapting well to technological changes and are advancing innovative practices in an attempt to become more transparent and more accountable. Among the Central government organisations present in Bangalore are the Central Silk Board (CSB), the Coffee Board of India, the Income Tax Department, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the Life Insurance Corporation of India, the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), the Sports Authority of India, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, the Central Warehousing Corporation, the Coconut Development Board, the Food Corporation of India and the Tobacco Board.

Antrix Corporation Limited, the marketing wing of the Department of Space, has provided a boost to Indias space industry. According to K.R. Sridhara Murthi, Managing Director, the purpose of Antrix is to maximise the commercial impact of space activities. Since 1993, when Antrix was established, the company has marketed to global customers products and services developed by the Indian space programme.

Antrix is committed to configuring cost-effective, advanced and reliable solutions by ensuring the smooth integration of deliverables with the space programme. It works closely with specialised centres to ensure the satisfactory resolution of technical issues. Antrix optimises the space systems keeping in view customer objectives. Best practices built over many successful projects and multi-disciplinary expertise enable it to identify and integrate appropriate technologies and mitigate risk factors.

The organisation plays a pivotal role in delivering space systems and services that meet the expectations of leading global organisations. It offers proven satellite systems and sub-systems that are cost-effective. The earth observation data services powered by a state-of-the-art constellation of Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites and a network of ground stations are a valuable and assured resource for business with customers worldwide.

Antrix facilitates the utilisation of Indian space assets in the field of telecommunications and broadcasting for a variety of services, including TV feed, Direct to Home (DTH), Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT), mobile communications and socially relevant services such as telemedicine and tele-education.

Indias track record of successful space launches in a variety of earth orbits using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) makes Antrix a compelling choice for many customers. It counts on the Indian space programmes unmatched experience in handling a wide range of missions to ensure effective mission support.

The company, which was founded with a capital investment of Rs.1 crore, made a net profit of Rs.168.53 crore in 2007-08. To reinforce organisational effectiveness, the Chairman of ISRO and Secretary, Department of Space, is also the Chairman of Antrix.

During the early 1990s, when India was setting the stage to develop into a hub for software development and outsourcing, it came across two impediments onerous government processes and policies and poor communication infrastructure.

The Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) was therefore set up in 1991 to provide a conducive environment for the IT community. Said R. Rajalakshmi, Director, STPI, Bangalore: STPIs goal is to make India a global IT power and one of the largest generators and exporters of software in the world.

The STPI was established as an autonomous society under the Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, to implement the Software Technology Park (STP)/Electronic Hardware Technology Park (EHTP) Scheme. The main objective was to set up and manage infrastructure facilities and provide other services such as technology assessment and professional training.

Other objectives include promoting the development of software and software services. It provides data communication services to IT industries and corporate houses and project management and consultancy services that are highly valued at the national and international level. It is also responsible for the promotion of bio-informatics and biotechnology industries.

So far, STPI has set up more than 53 centres and sub-centres across the country. Apart from its regulatory role, STPI is involved in creating a supportive ecosystem for the industry, so as to enable it to realise its potential and lead the country towards growth and prosperity. STPI-Bangalore has sub-centres in Mysore, Mangalore, Manipal and Hubli. Its policy is to enhance value continuously for its customers by delivering cost-quality performance through innovative practices.

In the past 18 years, STPI-Bangalore has played a constructive role liaising between the industry and the government and has been a powerful player in promoting the IT industry through various initiatives.

STPI-Bangalore has involved itself in diverse activities, ranging from statutory support (its primary role) to the creation of an incubation facility for entrepreneurs (Orchid TechScape). Today, in Karnataka, there are around 2,085 STPI units, which generate around five lakh jobs. Software exports are estimated to increase by 18 per cent this year. There are 14 IT/ITES SEZs in Karnataka, comprising around 50 units and employing more than 45,000 people. Software exports from them are estimated to increase by more than 100 per cent compared with last year.

STPI has involved itself in many national and international projects. It is working closely with Karnatakas e-governance venture and providing consultancy and project management services for various State government projects such as the Treasury Network, the Bhoomi Network, the Directorate of Municipal Administration and the Karnataka State Wide Area Network (KSWAN). The KSWAN integrates all district and taluk level government departments, thereby computerising all transactions.

STPI-Bangalore has been enabling events such as, which are instrumental in promoting various STPI schemes, SME meets, and so on.

The Central Silk Board (CSB) is a statutory body under the Ministry of Textiles and was established in 1949. Its functions are to promote and develop the silk industry, and encourage research and development in sericulture. It has 39 members, including the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, CEO & Member Secretary, and representatives drawn from both Houses of Parliament, sericultural States and special interest groups from the industry and trade. The board is reconstituted every three years.

The main functions of the CSB are to ensure the development and distribution of healthy silkworm seeds, and to promote improved methods of mulberry cultivation, silkworm rearing and silk reeling and spinning. It is also responsible for initiating measures aimed at standardisation and quality control of silk and silk products and for stabilising the prices of silk cocoons and raw silk.

According to M. Sathiyavathy, CEO, the CSBs emphasis now is on the development of sericulture in the cluster mode throughout the country. Under it, technical innovations will be disseminated to improve the productivity and quality of cocoons to meet the targeted production of both mulberry and vanya silks during the Eleventh Plan. The programme will be implemented in close association with sericulture departments in the States.

Silk is broadly classified into mulberry and non-mulberry or wild silks. Mulberry silk production was 15,610 tonnes in 2008-09, which is around 85 per cent of the total raw silk production in India. The production of non-mulberry silk, which is referred to as vanya silk, including Tasar, Eri and Muga, was 2,760 tonnes. The CSB encourages the production of vanya silk, which is ecofriendly. They come in natural colours such as cream, beige, brown and gold.

The use of silk in garments and home decoration has undergone considerable change in recent years, opening up new possibilities for exporters. The board recognises this and encourages the development of knitted fabrics using silk as they have advantages over woven fabrics in terms of speed of production, easy care and comfort.

Another achievement of the CSB is the Silk Mark a quality assurance label which was launched in June 2004. This is aimed at protecting the interests of consumers and silk traders. The scheme also helps in the promotion of generic silk and the building of a brand identity for Indian silk. So far, 1,200 organisations have taken to it and more than 70 lakh products with the Silk Mark label have reached the market. Apart from becoming popular with consumers, Silk Mark is gaining the confidence of the industry as well.

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the national standards body, has been servicing Indian industry for more than five decades now. Established in 1947, it was called the Indian Standards Institution (ISI) until 1987.

The BIS functions under the Ministry of Civil Supplies, Public Distribution and Consumer Affairs and the Cabinet Minister is its president. Sharad Gupta, a senior IAS officer, is the Director General now. The BIS major functions include formulating standards, certification of products and management systems and laboratory testing. It is also involved in activities to encourage testing for standards.

The BIS formulates standards for various sectors: basic and production engineering; chemicals; civil engineering; electronics and IT; food and agricultural products; mechanical engineering; management systems; medical equipment and hospital planning; metallurgical engineering; petroleum, coal and related products; transport engineering; textiles and water resources.

Each of these sectors has a division council to oversee its work. Standards are formulated keeping in view national priorities, industrial development programmes, technical needs, export promotion, consumer welfare, health, safety and energy conservation. So far, over 18,000 standards have been formulated in different technology areas. They are evolved by consensus, through a network of technical committees comprising different stakeholders.

The Product Certification Scheme of BIS aims to provide third-party guarantee of quality, safety and reliability to the customer. The presence of the ISI certification mark, known as Standard Mark, on a product is an assurance of conformity to specifications. Conformity is ensured by surprise inspections and testing of samples, drawn from the market and factories of the licencees.

The BIS Management System Certification includes the Quality Management Systems Certification Scheme, the Environmental Management Systems Certification Scheme, the Occupational Health and Safety Management System and the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point.

Eight BIS laboratories, nationwide, provide conformity testing. The central laboratory at Sahibabad (near Delhi) and the laboratories at regional and branch offices are engaged in testing primarily for the BIS Certification Marks Scheme (Standard Mark). The BIS lays emphasis on regular review of standards to stay in line with technological developments. The National Institute of Training for Standardisation (NITS), set up in 1995, organises various programmes for industries, including an international programme for developing countries.

The jurisdiction of the Income Tax Department headquartered in Bangalore extends to the State of Goa too. Heading this large area, which has more than 19 lakh assesses, is Pramod Kumar, the Chief Commissioner of Income Tax-I (CCIT-I), assisted by a large team, including personnel from CCIT-II and III.

The main activities of Karnataka and Goa include: growing coffee and areca nut; making handicrafts and sandalwood products; food canning, fisheries; and the manufacture of electronics, aircraft, heavy engineering, telephones, watches; software, fertilizer and liquor. The region is also important for its exports of iron and manganese ore and for its mining, shipping and scientific research.

Banking, IT, and manufacturing are Karnatakas major revenue earners. The Income Tax Departments budget collection (Karnataka and Goa) for 2008-09 was Rs.30,115.1 crore. Compare this with the revenue 10 years ago Rs.3,001 crore. This growth was mainly because of developments in the IT sector, the growth in revenue from the mining belt in Bellary and the phenomenal rise of the real estate sector in Karnataka, especially Bangalore. And this growth in revenue comes despite the IT and real estate sectors enjoying tax exemptions.

The revenue growth has also been attributed to the departments increased efficiency in collection compliance is several times greater because of intensified search and survey operations. The Income Tax Department of Karnataka and Goa performed relatively better than most other regions in 2008-09. It achieved 93.17 per cent of its target for the year and its revenue collection was ahead of the all-India average.

The department dealt with the filing of 17,76,331 returns by March 31, for 2008-09. This despite being severely understaffed. For instance, out of the sanctioned strength of 42 commissioners, the working strength is only 32. The situation is worse as one goes down the order; the Group C category has a shortfall of 651 employees.

The department has taken several welfare measures for its employees including organising eye and cardiac health camps for employees and their family members.

According to Pramod Kumar, the Bangalore centre got the first centre of the Central Processing Centre even though other major cities, including Delhi, were considered.

Life insurance in its modern form came to India in 1818 with the founding of the Oriental Life Insurance Company in Calcutta. All the insurance companies established then catered exclusively to the European community. Sometime later, Indian lives were insured but treated as substandard and charged extra premiums.

The Bombay Mutual Life Assurance Society, in 1870, was the first company to cover Indian lives at normal charges. The insurance business grew in the first two decades of the 20th century and by 1938 there were 176 companies in India worth Rs.298 crore. During this time several financially unsound concerns failed miserably, leading to the passing of the Insurance Act of 1938 the first legislation that provided strict state control over the insurance business.

The demand for nationalising the life insurance industry gathered momentum in 1944 when a Bill to amend the Insurance Act, 1938, was introduced. However, it was much later on January 19, 1956, that life insurance in India was nationalised. Parliament passed the Life Insurance Corporation Act on June 19, 1956.

The Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India was created on September 1, 1956, with the objective of reaching all insurable persons in the country, the rural areas in particular, and providing them adequate financial cover at a reasonable cost.

Today, LIC functions with 2,048 fully computerised branch offices, 100 divisional offices, seven zonal offices and the corporate office. LICs Wide Area Network covers its divisional offices and connects all the branches through a Metro Area Network.

LIC continues to be the dominant life insurer even after liberalisation and is moving fast on a new growth trajectory, surpassing its records. At the all-India level, it plans to sell 4.35 crore policies in the current fiscal with a first premium of Rs.48,000 crore. At the end of June 2009, it registered a growth of 22.59 per cent, having sold 59.04 lakh policies.

According to T.C. Suseel Kumar, Regional Manager (Marketing) Karnataka, LIC has eight divisions, 138 branch offices, 55 satellite offices and an agency force of 91,000 servicing about 160 lakh policies in the State.

The business premium collected in 2008-09 in Karnataka is around Rs.2,070 crore and the total premium income for the same period is Rs.8,877 crore. This fiscal, we propose to sell 30 lakh policies with a premium of Rs.3,000 crore and we have sold 3.98 lakh policies with a premium of Rs.276 crore already by the end of the first quarter, showing a growth of 27 per cent in the number of policies, Suseel Kumar said.

With the support of the Karnataka government, LIC runs the Bhagyalakshmi scheme, started in 2007, for girl children in Below-Poverty-Line (BPL) families. The State government deposits Rs.10,000 for each girl child and the maturity value is to be given on the child turning 18.

Nearly 5.70 lakh girl children have joined the scheme so far and enrolment continues on a regular basis. The Bangalore office will soon go completely digital to increase efficiency.

The concept of social security took birth after the Industrial Revolution in England. Independent India recognised its importance with the passing of the Employees State Insurance (ESI) Act in 1948.

The ESI scheme was inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1952 and the Bangalore centre was set up in 1956. Currently, more than 15 lakh people are insured under the scheme across the State.

The ESI scheme provides five benefits, four in cash, while the fifth one is medical care. Among the cash benefits are the sickness benefit, which provides 60 per cent payment for the loss of wages suffered by the employee; the disablement benefit, which provides an employee up to 75 per cent of the wages for a temporary injury, and lifetime pension in case of a permanent disablement; the dependents benefit; and the maternity benefit.

The Bangalore office has 39 branches, eight hospitals and 102 dispensaries across the State. If there is any grievance from the insured, the ESIC ensures instantaneous action. The medical scheme is supported by the Central and State governments, while we depend on our own corpus for the cash benefits, said S. Jayaprakash, Additional Commissioner and Regional Director, Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC).

In order to provide super specialty medical care, ESIC has tied up with leading medical institutions in the State. In Bangalore, the hospitals in the list include the Jayadeva Institute of Cardiology, the M.S. Ramaiah Memorial Hospital, Manipal Hospital, St. Johns National Academy of Health Sciences and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS).

The ESIC Model Hospital in Bangalore has a sanctioned bed strength of 500 and is being developed as a nodal hospital in the region. Plans are afoot to start postgraduate courses in the hospital as well. The highest amount paid for a single case was Rs.13 lakh last year for a bone marrow transplant, said Jayaprakash. He added that Karnataka was the third highest in terms of revenue generation in the country.

The ESIC wants to modernise all its hospitals in a phased manner and bring them on a par with private hospitals. Plans are afoot to construct a hospital in Peenya in Bangalore.

The ESIC is taking steps to improve revenue administration, including the direct delivery of identity cards to the insured employees rather than delivering them through employers. To improve monitoring and administrative functions, the ESIC will soon adopt IT and modernise its service delivery system.

The state-owned BSNL remains one of the leading providers of telecommunication services in Karnataka despite stiff competition from private companies.

BSNL provides all telecom services, including landlines, wireless, mobile telephony and broadband for Internet access. It provides more than 80 per cent of all landline connectivity in the State. Its wired connections number 21.7 lakh, while broadband connections number 4.3 lakh. BSNL also provides 22.3 lakh GSM connections. Its value-added services include the Network Interface Controller (NIC) card at the speed of 144 kilobytes per second (kbps) and a two-megabyte-per-second (mbps) Evolution Data Optimised (EVDO) card.

Since growth in telecom is mainly from GSM services, BSNL plans to increase the provision and services in this area. The target for GSM connections this year is 1.9 million.

Other initiatives include the construction of 383 Universal Service Obligation (USO) towers in the remote rural areas of Karnataka to provide specified mobile services. This project is almost complete. The Department of Information Technology is constructing Common Service Centres (CSCs) in rural areas to provide connectivity using BSNL facilities. More than 3,300 CSCs with wired line broadband connections have been completed and 1,100 CSCs will have Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMax) facilities.

BSNL has implemented a Karnataka State Wide Area Network (KSWAN) for the State government. This provides a 2mbps connectivity from Bangalore to all district headquarters and a 64 kbps connectivity to taluk headquarters.

Among other value-added services, BSNL provides Blackberry services, which help clients who are particular about the confidentiality of e-mails. It is very secure and up to 10 e-mail accounts can be configured simultaneously in one Blackberry.

We also offer Totally Managed Network Solutions for corporate clients. We also provide Global Conferencing Solutions for which we have partnered with British Telecom, said P. Raghavan, the Chief General Manager, BSNL, Karnataka. Among other services that BSNL offers is Managed Business Mail Solutions.

To expand its global network, BSNL has tied up with Cable and Wireless, the global telecom giant. It also has a tie-up with Cisco Systems Incorporated, the world leader in routers, for the provision of managed services.

BSNL has also tied up with Trimax IT Infrastructure and Services for the provision of Managed Network Services, which is a secured data service that provides a truly one-stop experience. It significantly reduces risks and complexities involved in implementing and maintaining a robust Internet Protocol (IP) network by bringing together all business communications needs in an integrated offering.

A Nielsen survey earlier this year on voice quality and mobile coverage in Bangalore rated BSNL at the top. BSNL already has 2,700 existing towers in Karnataka and a further 1,900 towers will be erected this year to improve coverage. There are also plans to further improve its data services.

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