Information Technology is the flavor of the year globally. India is no different to the global trend. Within India, however, the flavor is heightened in the five Southern States. If the world is talking about the silicon Valley in California, where the IT revolution began, India now has its own version of the American equivalent.
We have a Silicon City in Bangalore, Cyberabad in Hyderabad and an emerging Silicon Corridor in the Hottest Indian IT destination, Chennai, Together these cities are now also referred to as the Silicon Triangle.
Much has been written about Cyberabad and Silicon city. Chennai is emerging from the shadows though it is much better endowed and equipped in all departments than the other two corners of the silicon triangle.
While Chennai is now cornering global attention, with the likes of Harvard University applauding the emergence of Silicon Chennai, the spillover effect is strong on Tamil Nadus Neighboring states, Kerala and Pondicherry.
Pondicherry, the Union Territory turned State, long preferred by IT manufacturers and several other key industries due to special fax concessions, is now aggressively wooing the high-end software developers.
The Pondicherry Industrial Promotion Development and Investment Corporation (PIPDIC), has set up a state-of-the art software technology park with 21,000 sqft of built up space for software companies. In the second phase of the project, now going on, three times the phase I capacity will be built up. Over Rs.200 crore is expected to be invested to make comfortable working centres for the worlds leading software developers.
Kerala has been trying to prove the world that is not just a globally acclaimed picture postcard tourism destination. Kerala has successfully transplanted a fast growing IT industry by the greenest software development campus in the world, Technopark, at Trivandrum. The lush green atmosphere soaks in the right ambience for over 4,500 software programmers in a 700,000 sqft campus. The demand for space in Technopark is so high that every available nook and corner of two state-of-the art buildings, including the terrace, of this picturesque campus have been taken over by software companies. A US company has reported to have asked for 100,000 sqft space by 2000 end.
The second phase of the project has started to add another 250,000 sqft of space to cater to the ever-increasing demand from software companies. And two smaller versions of Technopark are coming up fast, in Keralas commercial centers Cochin and Calicut.
Of course, Tamil Nadu is the leader of the pack in leading the IT boom. The hardware industry in Tamil Nadu has always had great going. But in the last 3 years, software export companies have set a trail-blazing trend. From a few crores, the software exports from the state last year has boomed to Rs.1,890 crore. There are 535 software exporting units operating in the State.
Almost every available real estate space in Chennai has been taken up by software companies. The State government has liberalized the floor space index and other regulations just to enable these companies to operate from every part of this city.
Due to ever-growing demand a large area on the way to Mahabalipuram, South of Chennai, is being developed as a cyber corridor. Government agencies are developing the area with the finest infrastructural facilities possible. The State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) is now setting up a 700-acre Information Technology Park at Siruseri in the corridor.
The crowning glory for Tamil Nadu, however, is the Rs.345 crore, 1.2 million sqft Tidel Park, slated for inauguration by Prime Minister A B Vajpayee on July 4. The likely showpiece of Southern IT has several unique features.
It is situated at Taramani, situated in the heart of the city. All the other IT parks in the south are beyond their respective city limits. This itself will add to the attraction of Tidel Park. A joint venture of the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) and ELCOT (Electronic Corporation of Tamil Nadu), Tidel Park is bound to earn a distinct place in Indias software history.
As the massive 12-storeyed blue building is getting finishing touches, awaiting the Prime Ministers visit, Tidels director and Chief Executive Officer B V M Sarma is brimming with joy about the stupendous project completed in about 16 months.
Sarma pointed out that Tidel is three times the size of Hyderabads famed Hi-tech city. And Tidel has some of the worlds most advanced features.
Towering over 12 floors, the building, with granite and aluminum composite finish, occupies just a third of the 8-acre land. But its total surface area is 10 acres.
Construction began in December 1998 and the self-contained software park has three distinct section. The front portion has 2 modules of 18,500 sqft on each of the 12 floors, the middle portion has 4 office complexes of 14,500 sqft each and the small section has 4 offices of 6,000 sqft each. Each floor has a carpel area of 90,000 sqft and eight of the 12 levels are interconnected.
Its car park can accommodate 2,500 cars and there is 200 km of cables inside the building. A 2,000 line telephone exchange, scalable upto 8,000 lines is part of the park to provide instant connectivity. VSNL has its on earth station atop the building to provide Internet and data communication facilities. An STPI earth station is just 500 meters away and will also provide datacom facilities to the software companies. A 12.5 MW captive power plant will ensure that reliable power is available round the clock. Every office module is provided with telephone, Internet and LAN cable ducts and companies have to just plug in their systems and start right away. The list of unique features is endless.
Sarma said even before the formal launch, 42 percent of the space has already been booked. By 2000-end, Sarma hopes to have 100 percent occupancy
Tamil Nadus ascendancy in software did not happen in a day, As the states IT Secretary D Prakash pointed, it has been due to a combination of macroeconomic fundamentals and excellent socio-economic growth over a long period.
Both physical and social infrastructure in terms of high literacy rate, widespread availability of quality technical education, wide network of health care delivery systems, stable law and order situation, a business savvy administration which has tried to remove all bottlenecks in the path of entrepreneurs, an enlightened political leadership which eschewed strong ideological postures, and excellent industrial relations etc. have contributed significantly to Tamil Nadu being in a position to quickly board the IT bandwagon.
Thanks to the strong fundamentals, Tamil Nadu is in a position to tap emerging opportunities much faster than other states. The booming automobile industry, with the presence of global majors such as Ford, Hyundai is an example. Today, IT is the flavor of the season. Tomorrow, if it is bio-resources or something else, Tamil Nadu will be equally well placed to zoom to the growth path. Here lies the key to the IT boom in the South.
Views on the Southern Software Industry
We follow very progressive, growth oriented policies. As a result, Tamil Nadu offers excellent infrastructure, outstanding human resources, very good work culture and a responsive Government. Therefore, organizations choosing Tamil Nadu as their base can confidently look forward to a very successful future, said K. Karunanidhi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.
G. Gita, Director, Radiant Software Ltd said, Web-based solutions is the order of the day taking into account the legacy systems, where the customer has invested a lot of money. In todays scenario. Chennai houses many IT companies that support the domestic requirements in the South. The STPI has been a major support and has helped companies go global and has increased exports considerably.
S. Ramanathan, Chief Executive Officer, SRM Systems & Software Ltd, said, Chennai is essentially becoming active in the IT scenario. The growth rate has been twice as much as Hyderabad in the software segment revenue.
To me the recent trend in the software industry is the acceptance of India as a quality producer of software. Also we have reached a level wherein the latest technologies are introduced to as early as in the other countries.