Govt Committed to Improve Ease of Doing Business - Gaurav Gupta, Commissioner, Industries and Commerce Dept, Govt of Karnataka

By Editor 2017

Article

Gaurav Gupta, a native of U.P., who opted for Karnataka cadre and made Karnataka his home ever since 1990 is a no-nonsense IAS officer with a clear vision and candid mind. As Commissioner for Industries & Commerce, he enjoys the confidence of the state industries minister and Chief Minister, and shares their vision for the state.

Committed to building up Brand Karnataka, Shri. Gupta has a clear sense of its advantages, shortcomings and the way ahead. He tries to offset the disadvantages with the flock of advantages that the state has—robust R&D ecosystem along with a strong base of engineering and management education, well-supported start-up ecosystem, congenial weather and the like. In an interview with Aeromag he talks about the traditional and sunrise sectors, investment trends, opportunities, challenges and hopes, and the government’s vision forward.

Excerpts:

1. In view of the upcoming international events—Make in India and Aero India 2017— you are set to play a vital role in showcasing the most attractive features that Karnataka offers to investors. Could you give us a preview of your highlights?

Karnataka has always been a progressive state and has been reaching out to the industries and investors from a very early time.  The upcoming Aero India show and ‘Make in India’ serve as forums to showcase the plentiful opportunities available in Karnataka state in various sectors. Indeed we will use this opportunity for highlighting the attractiveness of the state to the investors.

2.   The Industries Department acts as a catalyst for overall development of the industries sector. What are some of the recent initiatives for promoting investment and trade?

Karnataka Industrial Policy 2014-19 has been widely acclaimed in the industries circles. It helped to incentivise investments in the industrially backward regions of the state and support the investments by socially disadvantaged people. We have also laid out the policy for development of industrial and economic corridors and also to promote private industrial parks. Some of these policy provisions are being highlighted during the investment promotion programs that we take up.

We are very well aware about the cluster-led growth of industries in Karnataka. For example, there are steel industry clusters in Bellary district, cement industry clusters in Bijapur and Gulbarga, foundry clusters in Belgaum, petro-chemicals in Mangalore and a number of others in various parts of the state.  Our objective is to highlight the potential which exists in different parts of the state and also to exhibit the other advantages that the state provides—like an excellent ecosystem in terms of talent pool, supportive and ancillary industries, and R&D institutions. This is a terrific combination that has made Karnataka a very attractive investment destination.

3.   Enhancing competitiveness of domestic industry through modernization, technology upgradation and adoption of best practices is one of your key objectives. How big is the impact of such proactive intervention?

Several such initiatives have been taken up in the state.  We have been taking up lot of awareness and training programs. We have been also supportive of standardisation and quality assurance programs like ISO certification and other such measures.  We have also given subsidy and other support for technology upgradation, for setting up of affluent treatment plants and efficient use of power and other such inputs.  I am sure industries in Karnataka have benefited from these facilities being given. In the coming days, based on suggestions and inputs from the industry, more and more programs will be taken up for modernisation and technology upgradation.

4.   The key pitch for Invest in Karnataka is the ease of doing business here. What new measures are being looked into to ensure the seamless flow in processing new projects?

Most of the approval processes have been made online. We are working to ensure that there is a single login facility in the state. Through a single-window agency namely Karnataka Udyog Mitra and the single login facility, we are able to reach out to different other portals run by various other departments and agencies of the government.  So work is going on for simplification of the approval processes, specification of timeline, ensuring online application, online payment of fees, tracking of applications, and also downloading of approvals and certifications. This process is being taken up in co-ordination with all departments of government of Karnataka. Interventions at the Chief Secretary level and Additional Chief Secretary level has made it more efficient. We have got lot of support to roll out these initiatives.

5.   Formulating and implementing revolutionary policies and statutes like the pioneering Start-up Policy, Aerospace Policy, Semi-conductor Policy, and AVGC Policy has helped Karnataka to become one of the largest technology clusters in the world and a global hub for IT and ITeS. Now, the focus is more on Start-ups. Where do you go from here?

World-wide more and more innovation is taking place through start-ups. Even big companies are encouraging new ideas, and provide incubation for in-house start-ups. In Karnataka government, we have also been supportive of start-ups in all academic institutions. Stage by stage we are promoting establishment of incubation centres. Besides this, we are promoting technology based incubators in tie-up with research and development centres. There is ample provision for funds and schemes by which the venture capital funds supporting the start-ups could be supported by government grants.

Individuals may also be benefited by support for developing their ideas into proofs of concept. These initiatives are also assisted by different accelerators, which are set-up in co-ordination with different industry bodies like NASSCOM. So, overall we are trying to encourage and build-up on the environment which nurtures start-ups in the state.  These start-ups will not be limited only to software and aerospace. It will encompass all sectors including aerospace, health, food processing, and others.  So we would like to ensure that innovation in the state is supported and further encouraged by all our initiatives in the industrial policy and also through sectoral policies and the recent initiatives of the start-up policy.

6.   Growth Centres, Export Promotion Industrial Parks, International Technology Park, Electronic City, Food and Agro Technology Parks, Agro Export Zones, Special Economic Zones—we can see ever widening corridors for growth and development throughout the state. For the investors, businessmen and industrial leaders, what array of opportunities do you present?

Investors and industry leaders are finding opportunities in different ways. The earliest of the opportunities was set up in the Peenya Industrial area. After that came Electronic city, and then the ITPL.  Besides these, several other industrial areas are also taken up in and around Bangalore and in other parts of the Karnataka state. The recent initiative is towards development of new nods along the Bangalore-Mumbai economic corridor (BMAC) and the Chennai-Bangalore-Chitradurga Industrial Corridor (CBCIC). These nodes would be new green field townships with the concept of walk to work, having all facilities. Already Tumkur is in advanced stage of planning and implementation. Dharward has also been identified as another nod. So, we expect that this initiative will also help the dispersal of industries throughout the state of Karnataka.

7.   Could we have more updates on the Belgaum SEZ for developing a precision engineering and manufacturing supply chain ecosystem, the project for Information Technology Investment Region (ITIR) near the Kempegowda International Airport and the food parks in six districts—Bengaluru rural, Tumkur, Shimoga, Davangere, Bijapur and Belgaum?

Belgaum SEZ for aerospace and precision component manufacturing has been doing very well.  Recently there has been some effort to expand the scope and size of the SEZ.  The food parks in various parts of the state are working well. This is true especially of the mega food parks in Tumkur and the other state government promoted food parks. Food processing industry is a very important sector of industrial growth in the state. 

As regards Information Technology Investment Region, notification has been done for acquiring 2000 acres of land near KIAL.  It is felt that there should be industry demand and after assessing the demand only we should go ahead further with the final notification.  Now the measures have been taken to gauge the investment potential and investors’ interest. Based on that, the government will go ahead with the area notified under the ITIR.

I would like to mention that, initiatives are also being taken to quickly operationalize Chamrajnagara and Yadgir industrial areas, which have been recently promoted as the industrially backward regions of the state.  The vacant areas in existing industrial areas in Mysore, Hassan and other districts are also being targeted for allotment and also for operationalization by grounding of industries.