The Data Centre Perspective – Coercion versus Enabling!

May 8, 2014

Picking up from where I left my last blog on Data Centre, I got a few scared reactions from my friends in the industry that we will try to coerce such investments by law. Let me clarify that no enterprise policy can coerce players and grow. It’s a global economy we are talking about, and coercion simply does not work here. Players would just look for more attractive markets and migrate. They would continue with their businesses while the coercing country would lose the opportunity.

Having said that, we seem to have missed the bus even without coercing – thanks to the policy paralysis over the last ten years.

We are 1/5th of the human race here, creating a major part of the USD 100 Bn global market, while capturing a mere USD 2 Bn share.

Where is the gap?

Do we not have the capacity to capture more share ?

Do we not have the intellect, or the education?

Do we not have the infrastructure, or capability to build the same?

When I read about India being ranked 29th, in a list of 30 countries for business attractiveness, it hurts. And it hurts more to know that much smaller and less naturally endowed countries outrank us.

The answer does not lie in coercion, but in enabling. As politicians, it becomes our duty to give a Policy environment conducive to growth of both – the Enterprise and the Entrepreneur!

We need to give an environment that gives big enterprises enough motivation to set shop here; an environment that also encourages entrepreneurs like Mr Somani (ESDS) to open shop.

When the policy maker has not done his job, there is no point blaming the industry for rating us unfairly low. For the past ten years we have lived in a “Technology Denial Regime”, and if we do not accept it, we will move into a “Disease Denial Mode”. We remain unattractive in terms of energy efficiency, in terms of land and infrastructure, in terms of capital infusion. Allow me to say- the system has failed this industry.

And it has failed lakhs of people who would have gained employment had the policy makers been proactive.

The damage actually goes beyond Data Centres, as there are several linked industries like Bigdata Analytics, Information security management, cloud computing and storage – all of which are on the rise and we are not the most attractive place in the world. We are just not ready!

The governance has to give an environment that translates into competitive advantage against other investment destinations. That can setup a strong pull to draw leading enterprises to India. “The Indian government could have set up its own data centres as the data explosion was happening and then could have slowly allowed the private players to take over”, says Piyush Somani of ESDS. I agree, US did this, and even we could have. This would have taken care of the security, sovereignty and jurisdiction issues while giving us the valuable experience of creating the right environment for private players to flourish.

In the same breath I would also say that companies that create ad revenue out of Indian Data, but intentionally go to Taiwan and Singapore to set Data Centres have to be appropriately addressed by the governance.

BJP over the past 3 years has made considerable efforts to understand this space and the requirements of the businesses, through regular interactions with the industry. Thus we can say that we have put considerable thought in our enterprise policy to ensure that it becomes a true “ENABLER” once implemented.

An enabler that will look into providing cost effective infrastructure and energy, appropriate incentives to make the investment worthwhile, bringing in laws that give confidence to the industry while protecting the national interest, providing skill development to the youth preparing them to leverage the opportunity. An enabler that creates jobs for Indian Youth and prosperity for India.

Industry and governance must synergistically co-exist. Coercion and policy paralysis are things of the past.

Let’s look ahead!

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