IT Destinations – Time to promote secondary cities

Second part of the article on IT Desitnations.

Coimbatore

This is the second largest city in the state after Chennai. Known for its textile industry, this city does sport a cosmopolitan outlook. Thanks to its proximity towards Western Ghats, the weather is said to be nice throughout the year.

In terms of connectivity, Coimbatore is very well connected with a sufficient number of trains towards Chennai & Bangalore. Though it takes a long time to reach the city via road, the train journey is less taxing & quicker. The recent expansion of Peelamedu Airport in the city and the fact that the city has just begin to be served by the low cost airliner ‘Air Deccan’ (would write something on this later) augurs well.

Coming to the intellectual capital, Coimbatore has got quite a few good & famous engineering colleges in the city that could supply the manpower. But then it is not the number of engineering colleges in the vicinity that makes for the intellectual capital of a city. In my opinion, it is the city’s ability to attract people with good skills to work & live in the place. If people from as far as Srinagar & Guwahati could travel miles away from their home to work at Chennai & Bangalore, it clearly shows that the distance factor and presence of engineering colleges in the city becomes irrelevant. The success of places like Coimbatore lies in creating the necessary atmosphere where the same set of people would be willing to travel few more miles and be able to work & live in that city. It might not be a city like Chennai or Bangalore, but Coimbatore has in it to make it big.

One sore point about Coimbatore is that people get reminded of the bomb blasts that rocked the city in February 1998. Though the city is much safer now, this might not be an encouraging factor in the minds of foreign investors, if they ever consider this place.

Madurai – Madurai is an historic town. But how well it would fit in as an IT destination? Frankly, I have very little knowledge about the place and it wouldn’t be proper to make any comments here. But, give or take any place in Tamil Nadu, one can find a cluster of Engineering colleges there. As mentioned before what makes it attractive in a city is its ability to provide good ambience and standard of living in par with other cities, where people live with a degree of comfort.

Trichy – This is the next biggest city in the state and its biggest advantage is its location. With just about 350 kms from Chennai, it could be reached by road and rail in a matter of 6 hours. There is an International airport in the city and has regular flights from Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore and Colombo among other places.

The presence of educational institutions like REC, BIM and one of India’s ‘navaratna’ – BHEL, where people from all parts of India live & study/work gives hope that the city would not find it very difficult to find acceptance as an IT destination.

You can’t expect companies like Microsoft & Sun to open its development centres in villages near Trichy & Madurai tomorrow. As a first step, the government has to identify localities in these cities, that are reachable from the town centre and develop them with proper public infrastructure like electricity, good roads etc. Private-public sector partnership should be encouraged to build technology parks in these cities and should be marketed among the Indian IT majors to open shop there. Once these cities are promoted, it would not only just ease the pressure off Chennai but also help develop these places further.

I don’t have any figures or data to carry out any further analysis or purposeful illustration. What I have written is mainly based on experience and hearsay. But my point here is not to compare various towns & cities of Tamil Nadu, but to emphasise the fact that the need to develop & promote the secondary cities is very much essential.

Just as I finish this, there is a news report about Karnataka promoting towns like Mysore, Mangalore, Belgaum etc. for IT. Karnataka has realised it. When would Tamil Nadu?

IT Destinations – Time to promote secondary cities

This is a two part article on IT Destinations. Note that this was written without any figures or data for support and without any knowledge of such analysis being done before. You would be in for a disappointment if you expect a comprehensive analysis. This happens to be my 300th post in the last 16 months of blogging.

Part 1

Over the last few weeks, there have been quite a lot of reports (Thanks for the link, Venkat) about Bangalore losing its sheen as India’s Cyber city. Those reports also talk about Chennai scoring over Bangalore in terms of public infrastructure like roads, public transport, availability of electricity, traffic and its like.

Business Standard even quotes a Harvard University paper “Readiness for the Networked World: A quiet Information Revolution in Tamil Naduâ€?, which predicts that Tamil Nadu is well poised to emerge as the top IT state in India as well as a gateway to South East Asia. There are talk about the IT majors investing heavily in Chennai committing themselves to more than 70,000 new jobs by 2008. Two most talked about investments are the ones at Mahindra City, near Chennai and the Sholinganallur-Siruseri IT corridor.

Well, so far so good. But the question is, could Chennai sustain this growth? Apart from the positives of Chennai, the single biggest negative factor of the city – the dreaded water problem makes this a very valid question. Even a quick analysis presents a very grim picture.

Although the new software parks are developed in the outskirts of Chennai, people working there prefer to live within the city for obvious reasons like good schools, health care and other entertainment activities. With an ever-increasing population, Chennai would have more woes in its hands than it can handle. Already the city is reeling under acute water shortage. With ground water levels going down to alarming proportions, it is hard to think of the situation after few more years with few hundred thousand more people vying for their share. One of the report I read says, that already in the city’s outskirts (Siruseri), water is being sold at a premium and there is no knowing when the source would dry up.

Wouldn’t the “Chennai hard-sell” boomerang after a point of time on this count. Aren’t we centralising everything towards Chennai pushing it beyond a point to which it can be stretched? Isn’t it time to take stock before things reach the saturation point?

What is the solution? One solution is to promote the secondary cities of Tamil Nadu and ease the pressure out of Chennai for the moment. Once the focus is out of Chennai, improve the infrastructure in the outskirts of Chennai to the extent at which it can bear that the future populace would feel comfortable living in the outskirts of the city. With measures like rainwater harvesting, desalination plant etc. things could definitely be improved. But let the city get a breather.

Thinking about secondary cities in Tamil Nadu, those that surfaces in the mind immediately are Coimbatore, Madurai and Trichy. Some of the important considerations while considering the secondary cities are the connectivity the place enjoys with the rest of the country/state, availability of skilled manpower, public infrastructure, security issues.

Childish

BJP is proving to be a bad loser time and again. There are ample issues like Sutlej-Yamuna canal, shooting up of inflation, mis-handling of Manipur crisis, Uma Bharti’s arrest, Savarkar issue and of course the good-old ‘tainted’ ministers – enough to corner the government inside the parliament. Rather the NDA choses to boycott the parliament on PM Manmohan Singh’s ‘rude’ behaviour. Prime Minister’s version of the events appears more credible in this instance. Advani looks like an 8-year old when he refuses to listen even after Manmohan calls him up personally to clear the air. If this continues, Sonia would be laughing all the way to the 15th Parliament with more than 2/3rd majority. C’mon men. Behave like grown-ups.

Irony

Today, I got sixteen spam mails with the same subject & content.



Subject: Unsubscribe successful

Content: Unsubscribe request received. Your mail-id has been removed from our mailing list.

The unsubscribe process occurs immediately and you won’t receive a single mail after this one from us.



Ghosh! What an irony!!

Observation

In my observation of the Swimming and Track & field events of Athens 2004 so far, none of those who participate from the last two tracks on both the sides (i.e. Tracks 1, 2, 7 & 8) manage to get to the podium. Invariably, it is the three out of the middle four who strike it big. There might have been some exceptions, but it has been the case generally. Did any one notice?

Bin Challenge

We have been holding ‘Bin Challenge’ at our work place for the last few days. The rules are quite simple. Whenever you have got a paper to throw it in the bin, you just have to throw it from your desk rather than go and drop it. If your projectile lands right into the bin, well.. you are the winner. In the last three days of intense competition, no one has been able to climb the podium. Some enthusiasts of ‘Bin Challenge’ have even got additional bins (smuggled from other departments) placed with in the striking distance to lure more participants. The level of participation & the competition is quite good as our boss is on holiday. When he returns, the competition would be much more fierce.

Confused

Am in cross roads now. Some confusions related to my career. The confusion is all about which way to go and how. I have some ambitious plans but don’t have a proper roadmap to achieve them. I am not a Super Star either to spread my confusion to the those who care to listen. So far, I have only managed to confuse my wife.

Talking about Super Star, have a look at his Japanese fan’s website (in Tamil & Japanese). Thanks Rajni Ramki. Height of heights is the photograph where they dance for ‘Autokaaran’ song sequence.

Amazing!

8 times out of 10, ‘Amazing’ is the word on the subject line when people forward mail attachments, especially cute pictures or nice little links. Many a times I used to wonder what is amazing in those pictures, though I admit that it would be nice. I got one such ‘amazing’ mail today and below is the link.

http://www.imaginationatwork.com/imagine

Tell me whether you were amazed.

Opponent’s view

Ever seen any photographs of beautiful Kashmir? But for some Indian movies filmed in the pre-1989 days, I have seldom seen any. Run through the below site and you’ll find loads of photographs of that lovely place. Read few lines of the text there but it is all about the jihadi crap & the ‘freedom fighters’.

http://ummah.org.uk/kashmir/photos/index.htm

Hope any mention of this site won’t be taken as implicit or explicit support to any person or organisation. Thanks for the link, Raja.