|Bangalore is secure in the knowledge that it is still the information technology capital of India.|
A stall at Bangalore Bio 2007, a biotechnology show at the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre in June.
“COMPETITION? Competition from whom? Competition is usually between equals.” M.N. Vidyashankar, Secretary, Departments of Information Technology, Biotechnology and Science & Technology, does not see a threat to Bangalore’s exalted status as India’s IT capital from any city. And he is not alone in this belief. The feeling among IT honchos in Bangalore is that neither Chennai nor Pune has what it takes to catch up with, leave alone overtake, Bangalore.
After all, India’s Silicon Valley uniquely offers end-to-end solutions and 78 per cent of the globe’s chip designing is undertaken in Bangalore. The worth of IT and IT-enabled products/services exported from Bangalore is a mind-boggling Rs.50,000 crore, and the growth rate is close to 100 per cent). But Bangalore is not about to rest on its laurels. Says Vidyashankar: “We have to be the first in everything, only then people will come. We have to be innovative. We have to snatch the first mile advantage.”
India’s biggest IT Park – on 9,684 acres of land at Bidadi, 30 km from Bangalore – is about to come up. Vidyashankar said the “plug and pay” IT Park will have 25,000 square feet of built-up space and will be developed by a consortium headed by the DLF Group and including two construction companies from Malaysia and Dubai. The State government will acquire the land and lease it to the consortium, which will then sublease it on a long-term basis to companies.
The land acquisition costs are in the region of Rs.50,000 crore. It will be mandatory for companies taking space in the park to buy residential plots. The park will be a self-contained township complete with all amenities, including a school.
The IT Department is also planning a Knowledge City at Ramanagaram and an IT park at Nandagudi. IT parks are also planned at Sathanur and Solur. Plans are afoot to acquire 60,961 acres for the five parks.
The Knowledge City will also house Dale Carnegie Training. It will be the U.S.-based institute’s first finishing school for IT professionals outside of the U.S. Its four-month course will include subjects in business and life skills, which are aimed at enhancing students’ employability. The State government is likely to meet Dale Carnegie Training’s request for 30 acres of land at the Knowledge City. Dale Carnegie Training is expected to invest Rs.140 crore in the project.
With the growth of the IT industry have come numerous call centres. This one is in Bangalore.
A finishing school for biotechnologists is also taking off in Bangalore, where the course is designed to meet industry needs. At present there are 169 agriculture-based BT companies in Karnataka, and BT exports from the State were worth $780 million last year. The department has also begun to focus on area-specific and activity-specific BT parks. A marine BT park is to be established in Mangalore and pharma BT parks at Shimoga and Bidar.
Vidyashankar is not ruffled by expressions of concern over Bangalore’s growing infrastructure problems. “No one is leaving, maybe expanding. But we are taking steps to put in place the necessary comfort levels. We are also meeting and inspecting the progress of various works,” he said.
The State also encourages IT companies to set up operations in Tier-II cities such as Mysore, Hubli, Gulbarga, Mangalore and Manipal. “JSoft has already opened a BPO [business process outsourcing] unit in Bellary and is in the process of setting up another at Hubli. The idea is to de-congest Bangalore and facilitate the uniform growth of the Tier-II cities, with infrastructure, connectivity and human resource,” Vidyashankar said. The idea, he said, was to have a hub-and-spoke model to attract investments in the knowledge sector with a two-pronged strategy.
Bangalore will be positioned as the hub, while the Tier-II cities will serve as spokes. The strategy is already paying off : Mysore recorded IT exports worth around Rs.754 crore during 2006-07; Mangalore Rs.250 crore; and Hubli Rs.30 crore.