God's Own IT Place

DQW Bureau
New Update


Kerala is making a renewed attempt to join the IT bandwagon in a big way. It has been in the making since the Congress-led coalition headed by AK Antony took over the government from the Communist-party's EK Nayanar. The pressure too has been on Kerala as the state did not want to stand out as a sore thumb among her three IT-savvy neighbors, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra


As an IT policy, Kerala's announcement has everything an investor would ask for. There is an emphasis on making Kerala the 'most IT-ready state', a hub for human resource excellence in IT, a most sought after investment destination etc. IT Minister PK Kunhalikutty has also announced a series of fiscal incentives to attract investors to Kerala.


There is a striking aspect to Kerala's IT policy. A key factor that has kept big investors away from Kerala has been the militant labor situation and the highly politicized environment that leads to frequent statewide work shut downs. The Antony government seems to have decided to take the labor bull by its horns. The IT policy will provide legal status to part time employment in IT companies. The Union Finance Minster Yashwant Sinha had announced his intention to revamp the labor laws to allow contract employment in the last Budget speech. But nothing has happened on the ground to make it a reality.

Kerala has taken the first tentative steps towards this direction. Of course, Kerala had done it with the intention of recognizing tele commuting. It is a good step forward. There are also announcements related to the ban on use of child labor in IT and telecom industries as part of the policy. This should be taken with a pinch of salt as India's IT industry has not had to resort to child labor at any stage to retain its competitiveness as a cheap labor


Kerala has rightly decided to make changes in laws to exempt IT companies from the notorious Shops and Establishment Act. This particular Act, designed for the brick and mortar age, had been rendered irrelevant in the IT sector due to the need for a host of incentives to make high skilled software professionals stay on for longer durations in an enterprise. Kerala's efforts to keep the labor inspectors away from IT companies is a commendable step.


Kerala has everything going for it to become an IT powerhouse. Its communications infrastructure, with at least 6 fiber optic cable networks criss-crossing the state, good cellular and landline connectivity, two undersea cables having landing points at Kochi, is very good. With Technopark and other such physical infrastructure coming up across the state, ready to move in space is not a constraint. Now, further liberalizing this sector, the state has allowed private software technology parks


The government will also provide single window clearance to IT investors. The state is planning to attract companies which specialize in software development, supply chain management and IT-enabled services to invest heavily in the state.

And for the first time, the state Chief Minister AK Antony himself will be leading the charge for garnering IT investments, ably assisted by ministerial colleague Kunhalikutty and IT Secretary Aruna Sundararajan. The IT Secretary has laid the foundation for Kerala's IT take off over the last 3 years. The Antony government has stepped in at the right time to boost these efforts.


After all, Antony too has to keep with his Congress colleagues, SM Krishna, CM of Karnataka and the newly emerging IT star Digvijay Singh, CM of Madhya Pradesh, in IT


The Madhya Pradesh chief minister has certainly a tougher task than Kerala's Antony. Kerala has very good infrastructure in scientific establishments such as the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center, Thiruvananthapuram, Cochin University of Science and

Technology, and a number of other good research centers. These centers will provide the ambience as well as the human and strategic resources for Kerala's IT thrust.

Kerala will do with an image change over. The backwaters, misty mountains and ayurveda have made Kerala one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world. Antony will do the state a great service if he manages to change Kerala's image to that of hot business destination by enhancing its overall attractiveness as an industrial and economic powerhouse. For too long,

Kerala has basked in the glory of above-average social indicators. Economic indicators too are powerful attractions in the modern world. Information Technology could provide that opening in Kerala's march towards economic prosperity.