India’s IT hub wants new government to reboot Bangalore

May 27th, 2008 - 12:21 pm ICT by admin  

By Fakir Balaji
Bangalore, May 27 (IANS) The booming knowledge industry in India’s IT hub is relieved that the people of Karnataka have voted for stability and good governance. As after every election, the industry’s expectations from the new government are high , especially in the case of Bangalore’s infrastructure, which has crumbled under the weight of disparity between growth and development pace over the last four years.

With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) set to form its first government in a southern state, head honchos of IT and BT (biotech) sectors and captains of the manufacturing industry have hailed the decisive verdict that will allow a one-party rule for the next five years.

“We welcome the clear verdict. It gives us hope the state would have a stable government to focus on infrastructure development, particularly in Bangalore, and continue to support the knowledge industry for greater investment and job creation,” Indian software industry body Nasscom’s president Som Mittal told IANS.

Although Bangalore remains a favourite investment destination in the sub-continent for the knowledge sector, tardy implementation of infrastructure projects have choked the city, with its arterial roads turning into a gridlock. Reckless growth and lopsided development have created a digital divide and poor enforcement of green laws have caused heavy pollution and led to health problems.

“We expect the new BJP government to rebuild the image of Bangalore and Karnataka, which has taken a beating over the last 40 months due to instability, misrule and neglect of infrastructure projects by the previous two coalition governments,” said Mittal, who was head of global IT major Hewlett Packard (HP) India operations in Bangalore.

Incidentally, the BJP logged into the IT city in a big way by winning 17 of the 28 assembly seats for the first time though the voting percentage (45 percent) was the lowest in the state. The city’s IT sector, which accounts for about 40 percent of the country’s software services export earnings ($40 billion in FY 2008) and employs about a million people directly and indirectly, wants the new government to draw a long-term infrastructure development plan for Bangalore and tier-two cities across the state for uniform growth and job creation.

“In the next 10 years, Bangalore has the potential to grow by 2.5 times in proportion to the growth of the IT industry and the economy in general. The government would have to get cracking now to keep pace with the industry’s growth rate. There is a need to create a similar eco-system in other cities to decongest Bangalore and attract investment,” Mittal said.

Echoing Mittial’s view, IT bellwether Infosys Technologies director T.V. Mohandas Pai said the first priority of the government should be to complete the Bangalore-Mysore infrastructure corridor that will not only reduce distance and travel time but also facilitate growth between the two sister cities.

“Every new government promises but fails to deliver. We want action on the ground. A number of infrastructure projects related to roads, flyovers, drainage system, water supply, public transport and traffic decongestion remain incomplete, leading to time and cost overruns.

“We hope the BJP government will be serious to implement the pending projects and take up infrastructure development in cities like Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli-Dharwad and Belgaum across the state,” Pai noted.

India’s biotechnology queen and Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw hoped that as a progressive and pro-development party, the BJP would undo the damage done to the city’s global brand when previous governments failed to keep the infrastructure growth in pace with the booming knowledge economy.

“The Indian knowledge industry has been growing in spite of the government. We are not asking for any special attention or favours. All that the government needs to do is to facilitate the growth of the industry by providing basic infrastructure and civic amenities for a healthy and quality life of its citizens.”

The head honchos are also of the view that the new government would have to invest in education and skill development for generating human resources to meet the growing demand for employable youth.

In the same breath, captains of the manufacturing sector voiced concern over the lack of pro-active measures to attract greater investment in the state and encourage growth in the old economy that continues to be the main source of direct and indirect employment and wealth creation.

“There has been a decline in the investment prospects of Karnataka as compared to Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh during the last two-three years. We hope the new government would improve the infrastructure across the state for a spurt of investments from Indian and foreign firms,” said S. Vishwanathan, chairman of the Karnataka unit of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and managing director of John Fowler India Ltd. Listing out priorities for the new government, Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) president John M. Panikar said a stable government for the next five years augured well for Karnataka as the state suffered considerably due to political instability and poor governance in the last three-four years.

“We expect the new government to get into action mode quickly to address the infrastructure and development issues. Karnataka has slipped on the flow of investments due to negative perception. The state has under-performed in both industrial and state gross domestic product (GDP) growth and the rate was below the national average.

“To ensure that Bangalore retains its competitive edge, the BJP government should tackle deficiencies in city roads, public transportation, traffic management and power and water supply on a war footing to revive and improve the image of the city,” Panikar said here in a statement.

(Fakir Balaji can be contacted at fakir.b@ians.in)

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