KTR: Startup Minister to Chief Minister of Telangana

Seed stage to growth stage and how he is set to scale

It appears Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao or KTR as he is popularly known is all set to scale to new heights as he is poised to become the youngest Chief Minister of the youngest state in India, Telangana.

While that’s exciting, what’s even more is how the startup ecosystem in Telangana, especially the city of Hyderabad will scale to even greater heights with him being at the helm of not just the IT industry but of the entire state as the Chief Minister.

Citizens with different political beliefs might have differing views on how well KTR could manage the affairs of the entire state as a Chief Minister by building consensus but I’m certain that he is the most capable leader not just in the state but also in India. Yes, his father Kalvakuntla Chandrashekhar Rao is currently the first Chief Minister of Telangana and Dynasty is a dirty word in politics but as long as the power is flowing through ballot and not just blood, I’m fine. He got an entry pass through his father but it is not to be forgotten that KTR got to where he is today not only by winning people’s mandate twice but also by proving to be an able leader and administrator. Labeled as the “Most Inspirational Icon” by CNN-IBN in 2015, KTR is also the recipient of “Leader Of The Year” award from Business world in 2017. His efforts also paved the way for Telangana to win CNBC’s “Promising State of The Year” award in 2016 besides several other awards and recognitions to his credit. The people and state of Telangana will definitely prosper under KTR’s leadership and I sincerely pray and hope that he will make all the right moves so that one day, the entire nation benefits from his vision and leadership. KTR has potential to lead the nation.

Coming back to startups, just take a look at how the startup landscape has changed under his leadership. Not just IT but IT-enabled services (ITeS), Pharma, Technology etc. Of course, there is always lot more to be done but what he has accomplished in the short few years he has been in the government is nothing short of a phenomenal or rather a miracle, especially in this day and age of scams and false hopes from those in power.

Here are some of the accomplishments of Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao as Telangana’s Information Technology & Communications minister.

1. TS-iPASS – Enabling ease of doing business in Telangana through industry friendly ICT policy & incentives

TS-iPASS, a brainchild of KTR allows any one to start doing business in the state of Telangana from day-1 and as per the policy, the government is on the hook to issue time bound approvals to industries based on self-certification. It is the most Industry friendly ICT policy in India if not the world with single window clearance and favorable regulatory environment where it is necessitated. No more red-tape and running around the babus or various government agencies and offices. With a stable government, Telangana also offers a stable tax regime with various subsidies and incentives.

2. TASK – Preparing and empowering next generation workforce Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge academy

Yet another unique initiative in India, TASK is committed towards improving the skill set of graduating students in Telangana and make them employable and resourceful. Its goal is to strengthen the quality of students coming out of colleges by imparting industry-grade technical as well as soft skills to them. The program is offered in collaboration with IT leaders such as Microsoft, Google, Infosys, IBM, Oracle, Autodesk, SAP etc. The close collaboration allows TASK to offers several industry certification programs for the students at free of cost and in some cases at a heavily subsidized price.

3. NDLM – Improving the “digital” literacy in families

Telangana is the first in India to launch the National Digital literacy Mission program across the state. Its goal – make atleast one person in every family digitally literate so the government programs and benefits can reach every family.

4. TS-CLASS – Transform teaching in Government schools

KTR is very passionate about improving the quality of education and has initiated a program called Telangana State Computer Literacy and Skills in Schools (TS-CLASS) to transform infrastructure, content, training and connectivity in classrooms. The program will be deployed in a phased manner across the government schools in Telangana and is designed to prepare students with the 21st century skillsets. Through an initiative called SoFTNET, Mana TV telecasts live and recorded content to coach students for IIT, NEET, EAMCET, Polytechnic, TSPSC, Group-II and various other entrance test examinations .

5. Globalizing Telangana

Telangana under the leadership of KTR has become the leading destination to several Global IT players, attracted huge investments and created several high paying jobs. It’s the home to Amazon’s largest fulfillment center and Google’s largest campus outside US. Apple has its mapping development center in Hyderabad and with Microsoft also having its campus in the city, I think the state is perhaps home to world’s most valued companies in IT. Not just IT, KTR has several other firsts to his credit; the iconic Swedish giant, IKEA launched its first store in Hyderabad, Telangana. The fact that several of these major players chose Telangana as their gateway into India reflects the efforts KTR is putting into transform the state into Silicon Valley of the East.

6. T Hub – India’s largest incubation facility for startups

The objective of T-Hub is to incubate startups, develop a vibrant ecosystem that nurtures the entrepreneurial spirit and provide much needed support to grow them into successful businesses. T-Hub connects with other startup ecosystems via a program called T-Bridge.

7. T Works – India’s largest prototyping center

Touted to become the world’s largest hardware prototyping centre for electronics, semiconductors and hardware start-ups, T-Works intends to develop accessible, affordable and state-of-the-art infrastructure and facilitate collaboration amongst hardware focused funds, incubators, academia and talent pool.

8. Digitize Governance

Through “MeeSeva”, the state provides faster, easier and transparent access to various government services through state wide kiosks and enabled with modern technologies. “E-Panchayat” extends the services to villages. The goal is to eventually computerize all government services, make them digitally available to the public and increase the transparency along with efficiency.

9. Public Wi-Fi

Piloted in Hyderabad, the public Wi-Fi service will soon be extended to all cities & towns across the state and will enable the last mile connectivity to the public.

10. T-Fiber – Telangana Fiber Grid

To achieve the goal of “Digital Telangana”, KTR wants to establish a state-of-the-art network infrastructure and offer affordable & reliable high-speed broadband connectivity to every household and government office in Telangana. Through T-Fiber, the government intends to make e-governance, e-health, ecommerce, netbanking, video-on-demand etc., a reality for every household in the state.

11. Electronics, Hardware, manufacturing and farming industries

KTR knows “It is not just IT” that would transform Telangana into number 1 state. He has been spearheading many policies and frameworks to lead innovation in several other key industries – from electronics to farming which have the potential to generate large scale employment and grow the state’s economy. Given the importance and significance of these other industries, KTR has set out with a vision to create a sustainable and scalable ecosystems to develop these across the state.

12. Take “IT” to Tier-II & beyond

Being the visionary that he is, KTR very well understands that to grow the overall state, IT needs to be spread to cities, towns and villages across the state. He was key to the new policy that recently came out wherein the government incentivizes companies to start operations and provide employment opportunities in such places. The government is now also in the process of setting up Special Economic Zones (SEZs) along this corridor.

Not just these dozen but Telangana has either created or is in the process of creating policies on Internet-Of-Things (IOT), Big Data, Open Data, Data Analytics, Cyber Security, e-Waste Management and many more. KTR undoubtedly is the first and only minister who has accomplished so much in such a short span. He is the leader with a clear vision and mission who can place Telangana on the global map for decades to come.

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Bootstrapper at Startups
Being away from India for several years, I'm always excited about anything Indian. I'm particularly crazy (read passionate) about start-ups in India and administer the portal for Indian Startups which started off as a platform to write about startups around the world and India in particular. Do startups interest you? Then join startups. Let's build startups in India together. If you need to talk to me in real-time, I'll be available on IRC channel #startuphub. Click to connect.

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