Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Is Bangalore losing its sheen?

Is Bangalore losing its sheen?
For a long time, Bangalore has been the Silicon Valley of India. As the industry has grown exponentially, the fact that the city’s infrastructure hasn’t kept pace with it has resulted in problems aplenty. But there’s hope yet because all key players are seized of the issue and are chipping in with workable solutions
The Times of India

Aquestion that’s sometimes asked in whispers was articulated aloud in an engaging discussion panel at the CEO Conclave, which is part of Bangalore IT.in 2006, at Palace Grounds on Monday evening.
Although many were bold enough to say that the state government’s attitude greatly contributed to the erosion of Brand Bangalore, no one was actually willing to give up entirely on the city or write it off completely. B V Naidu, director STP-B, said: “Silicon Valley has always witnessed brand volatility based on changing tech dynamics. However, Bangalore never felt such drastic erosion as Bangalore Inc was a healthy confluence of multiple businesses including IT, ITES, BT, healthcare, textile and garments and manufacturing. The city still has a good brand. It recently attracted a large retail chain that will soon set up a 2,000-people facility here. Having said that, if the government did not attend to infrastructure, the brand will die.”
It’s all quite relative, pointed out M N Vidyashankar, state secretary (IT). “Who is capable of replicating Bangalore’s tech dominance? Then how can anyone say that it’s losing its lustre,” he asked?
Ghanshyam Dass, managing director (Asia Pacific) Nasdaq, observed: “Brand Bangalore existed even during the pre-Independence era. The city had a strong corporate culture with a large number of PSUs, research institutions and educational institutes. The growth has been pretty evident in the recent past. For instance, the city had only 39 MNCs in 2000 and that number has crossed 800 today. What can keep the brand alive and kicking is a serious look at the quality of its infrastructure and educational system.’’
Bob Kondamoori, managing partner, Sandalwood Capital Partners, took a slightly different view. “Sheen comes and goes. It’s a global phenomenon and China currently has quite a bit of it. Bangalore continues to lure businesses and venture capitalists thanks to its intellectual property. Generally, VCs as a community don’t like to invest in a company that is 10 kms away, but when it comes to Bangalore, they often find exceptions.”
S Sadagopan, director, IIIT-B, said, “All human beings want to be wanted. What happens when that sense of being wanted is lost, and that’s what happened to Bangalore. Nothing but lack of aspiration is killing the city.”
Frank Jones, president, Intel India warned: “The city will remain a brand only if innovation is kept alive.’’
Subash Menon, CMD & CEO Subex Azure, said, “When IT started, Bangalore was alone and could capture exclusive attention. Today, the growth is pan-Indian and hence the attention is divided. However, the government should have the right attitude, otherwise the city will actually lose its sheen. The callous attitude of the government must changed.”
“The problem with Bangalore is that the city cannot grow its infrastructure to cope up the corporate growth it’s experiencing. For instance, on a single stretch of 1.5 km, over 50,000 people are working,” observed Vivek Kulkarni, chairman & CEO, Brickworks India.

The audience, comprising CEOs from the industry and others, listen in rapt attention at the panel discussion.

Bob Kondamoori Managing partner, Sandalwood Capital Partners
More helping
hands needed
There are a lot more hands coming out (in the government) trying to help. Universities should pitch in with more resources since they are the source of the talent pool.

Frank Jones President, Intel India
Let red tape go
Bangalore is the only city people in the US know, even today. We need to have the will to keep Brand Bangalore going. A lot of resources are spent by companies to work through governmental red tape, which should not be the case.

Ghanshyam Dass Managing Director (Asia Pacific), Nasdaq Stock Market
Ecosystem a must
Improve infrastructure; raise quality of workforce; upgrade engineering institutions. Cities like San Diego and Salt Lake City in the US developed because the government created an ecosystem there. Similar efforts are required here.

S Sadagopan
Founder-Director of International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore
We all want to
be wanted
All human beings want to be wanted. When you are not wanted you know what happens. That’s happening to Bangalore.

M N Vidyashankar
Secretary, Karnataka government’s department of information technology, biotechnology and science & technology. More thrust on infrastructure
Tier II/III cities have grown as spikes; the core of Bangalore still hasn’t lost its sheen. You cannot replicate the sheen of Bangalore anywhere else in the world. BPO/ITES companies should seriously consider setting up base in smaller cities in the state. In two years, infrastructure in Bangalore will see a dramatic difference.

B V Naidu Director, Software Technology Parks of India, Bangalore/Hyderabad.
Let us come
If all people get together — industry, government and academia — the sheen will be back in Bangalore. Industry needs to take more responsibility.

Kris Gopalakrishnan President and Chief Operating Officer, Infosys Technologies
Urgency is missing
Bangalore is losing its sheen. The city does not have the same ability to attract companies and create new jobs it had five years ago. There is a feeling that IT is no longer important; that urgency is missing. I feel future IT parks will be residential. Create facilities for a decent life in other towns to encourage people to move there.

Vivek Kulkarni Chairman and CEO of Brickwork India
Traffic remains
a curse here
Traffic in Bangalore is the big problem. Beyond that, I don’t see any major issue. Bangalore hasn’t lost its sheen; the maximum number of expats still prefer the city.

Subash Menon Founder Chairman, Managing Director & CEO of Subex.
Govt to blame
for this mess
It’s a cliche to say Brand Bangalore is losing its sheen. Everything is relative. We are saddled with some of the worst guys in the government. Their attitude is callous.


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