Delhi: After creating a foothold in information technology through Technopark and Infopark that are largely restricted to the big metros, Kerala is now all set to usher in a new wave of IT revolution by taking hi-tech aspirations to its far-flung rural hamlets and smaller towns.
The state government will showcase a slew of IT-related projects, including rural IT parks in Kollam, Alappuzha and Thrissur districts at the forthcoming Emerging Kerala Global Connect in September, looking for private participation from high-profile entrepreneurs gathering at the three-day summit.
New IT parks have been proposed at Kundara on the banks of Ashtamudi Kayal east of Kollam district; Pallippuram near Cherthala, Alappuzha, 25 kms south-east of Kochi; and Koratty in Thrissur district by the side of National Highway and 12 kms from Kochi international airport.
The rural IT park concept will be setting up a new benchmark for the next-generation IT revolution in the country at a time when giants in the field who set up bases in big metros are looking for greener pastures in smaller towns to improve the bottom line by shedding extra costs while maintaining skilled manpower.
“Kerala is going to be the ideal platform to experiment this third wave of IT revolution in the country,” says Shri. P.H. Kurian, Principal Secretary, IT, Government of Kerala. “The first wave was confined to big metros like Bangalore and Hyderabad, while the second was expanded to smaller metros like Kochi and Pune. Apart from the connectivity, the skilled manpower and better logistics in smaller Kerala towns can set pace for the new wave of IT revolution. As much as 53 per cent of Kerala techies hail from rural pockets.”
Kerala, which pioneered an IT revolution with Technopark in 1992, has had a chequered growth in the sector. After a lull, it is now bubbling with the vibrancy of Smart City, whose construction in Kochi began in October last year. Now, the proposed rural IT parks is expected to take this momentum forward in a big way, given the advantages the state’s rural pockets have when it comes to availability of skilled manpower and better logistics.
“The rural IT park is going to be a pioneering model as big companies in IT, ITeS (IT-enabled services) and BPO (business process outsourcing) are driven by the cost advantage factors,” notes Shri. Kurian. “IT is still one of the rising sectors for Kerala, contributing more than Rs 3,500 crores in export revenue. It is growing at a rapid pace.”
Considering the state’s repository of qualified and trained IT professionals, the cost of start-up projects are low when compared to other major IT destinations like Bangalore and Hyderabad in the country.
It was in 1998 that the state government announced its first IT Policy. The follow-up came in the form of IT Policies in 2001 and 2007, each providing comprehensive support for further development of this sector. They helped Kerala emerge as a preferred IT/ITeS investment destination and a leader in e-governance. The new IT Policy 2012 will be issued in August.
Apart from the new path-breaking IT policy, Kerala has quite a few factors that give the state an advantageous position in terms of IT. These include high connectivity with the Kochi gateway that handles 70 per cent of the country’s data traffic, the state’s high literacy rate, tele-density that is double the national average, talent pool of English-speaking people, just 10 per cent employee attrition, schemes to groom students as future techies and engineering colleges producing 50,000 engineers every year, besides the moderate climate of the green state.
Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), which is the nodal agency for the global meet, has identified 26 sectors and prepared a number of projects to present to investors at the September 12-14 meet in Kochi.
“IT is one of key areas, given the potential of Kerala, which supplies a great number of skilled professionals to all major IT hubs in the world,” notes Shri. Alkesh Sharma, Managing Director of KSIDC. “Our aim is to turn Kerala into a favourite IT destination, while transforming the state itself as a leading global hub of economic activities under the ongoing campaign of Emerging Kerala.”
Another proposal coming for bids at the meet is a residential complex worth Rs 14 crore to house IT professionals at upstate Kozhikode, an ideal tier-2 city for IT and ITeS business. There are 40 IT companies in that city, and the project envisages the development of an apartment building for leasing. Kerala will also scout for partners to further develop the next stages of the Infopark at Kochi and Techno city (Phase-IV of Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram).