IT Destinations – Time to promote secondary cities
Second part of the article on IT Desitnations.
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?