Microsoft Corporation has agreed to develop ‘digital villages’ and a ‘smart MIDC’ (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation) in Maharashtra under the state’s ‘Make In Maharashtra’ initiative. It was announced by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, after he met Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella during his visit to company’s office in Seattle in November last year. The location of the smart MIDC is yet to be decided.

The company has also said that it will set up a cyber-security centre in Maharashtra’s IT hub Pune and also agreed to adopt a tribal village in Melghat district, in order to provide tertiary health services to the weaker sections of the society. Both sides also discussed application of cloud services to MSMMEs (Ministry of Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises) and technological solutions for implementing the Right to Service Act. The Redmond-based technology major aims at bringing together business decision makers and entrepreneurs to envision how technology will empower the lives of a billion plus Indians.

Microsoft will also help the state government to develop a ‘Safe Maharashtra’ mobile application, in order to provide security to the vulnerable people, especially women and senior citizens by tracking them. Fadnavis also met Boeing CEO Raymond Conner in Mumbai in December last year and discussed expansion of MRO operations at its plant in the industrial facility of Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport (MIHAN) in Nagpur.

The chief minister also said that he was looking to build 50 smart villages starting with Arinsal by the end of 2016. He quoted that – “We are not only looking at building smart cities, but smart villages. Our first such project is the Arinsal village where Microsoft will help us. We are looking to build 50 smart villages by the end of 2016.”

“Arinsal is also called the capital of malnutrition, but with an ICT-based smart project, we can change this. We are looking to integrate ICT into healthcare, education, energy and other areas. Also, we want to empower people and we will look for support from Microsoft to enable digitization of processes, with everything talking to each other at the backend,” he further added. Interestingly, Microsoft recently launched three cloud data centres in India and two of them are in the state of Maharashtra (Mumbai and Pune), and the third one being in Telangana (Hyderabad).

The chief minister also spoke about making Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) smart to provide industrial development with better efficiency. Fadnavis added that he wanted to make Maharashtra the preferred location for investments, as part of the ‘Make in Maharashtra’ initiative launched in 2014, which is also in lines with the ‘Make in India’ initiative, launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also in 2014.
“We are trying to free up more rules. Earlier, nearly 76 permissions were required to set up a new business, and it would take a maximum of three years to get those permissions. But now we have brought down the number of permissions to 37. Plus, we are trying to bring it down to 25 and bring down the time period to three months. We are also empowering citizens with the newly launched Right to Services Act and are giving new businessmen the right to legal recourse,” Fadnavis said.