Karnataka government launched rural Wi-Fi services in 11 gram panchayats on Monday, as Chief Minister Siddaramaiah claimed that such a 'digital inclusion' will provide village-level entrepreneurs much better access to online market place for their products and services.
He also launched the "Grand Challenge Karnataka", an initiative under the multi-sector Start-up Policy to scout fornew technologies or innovations that can offer solutions tosome of the prevalent problems in the state.
At the inauguration of Bengaluru ITE Biz 2016, an annualIT event, Siddaramaiah said with "digital inclusion becoming the most important parameter of growth and economicdevelopment", it is the intention of the government to see that the last mile connectivity is provided in all villages.
"For this we will be banking on the availability of National Optic Fibre Network up to the Gram Panchayat level,"he added.
The gram panchayats benefitting from the Wi-Fi initiativeinclude two each in Mysuru, Tumkuru, Gadag, Ballari andKalburgi and one in Bagalkot district.
The rural population in these gram panchayats can make use of the services by buyingconcessional Wi-Fi vouchers. The impact of digital inclusion will be manifold which would enable village-level entrepreneurs ready access to online market place and have opportunity to explore new markets for their products and services, he said.
The chief minister also called for gender equality,saying, "it is a fact that achieving gender equality wouldhave large economic impact. IT sector has enabled significant number of women to join the work space, but more needs to be done."
Siddaramaiah said, "Grand Challenge Karnataka aims tochannelise innovations for social impact and in the processsupport the establishment and growth of start-ups."
He said the government has approved a proposal to set upsix common instrumentation centres across the state which willprovide opportunity to electronic hardware startups and MSMEsto have easy access to high quality instrumentation facilitiesfor fine-tuning their products.
"The IT and BT department is in the process of setting upa finishing school in Animation and Visual Effects inassociation with Industry bodies," he said.
Siddaramaiah said government was contemplating setting upcentres of excellence in aerospace, cyber security and otherrelated areas to provide high-end skilling in areas ofemerging technologies.
Government has been augmenting industrial infrastructurein two-tier and three tier cities, he added.
The state also intends to support setting up oftechnology business incubators in the potential areas ofInternet of Things, Electronics System Design andmanufacturing, Robotics, 3D Printing, Nanotechnology, Medicaldevices, Health technology and Clean technology, in phasesacross the state, he said.