Cyberabad IT industry takes terror attacks in its stride

Thursday, 30 August 2007, 07:00 Hrs
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Hyderabad: The booming information technology industry in this city, second only to Bangalore, is concerned over the terror bombings but feels it will have no immediate impact on its growth or investments.

The IT companies in the town now often called 'Cyberabad', however, want the government to beef up security, warning that any more attacks could create problems in the long run.

Saturday's twin blasts in the city killed 43 people.

After the May 18 bombing at the Mecca Masjid, the industry leaders had dismissed it as a one-off incident, but after Saturday's twin attacks they are concerned.

Over 1,500 software, product development and business process outsourcing companies have their operations in the city. Among them are over 200 IT multinationals, including giants Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Dell Computers, GE, Google, UBS, HSBC and Bank of America. Huge Indian IT firms such as Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys have large operations here.

While emphasising that the blasts would not hit the sector, industry leaders said their belief was based on the argument that Hyderabad, like other major cities of India, has the resilience, and the world at large has learnt to live with the scourge of terrorism.

"It (the blasts) is a matter of concern not just for the IT sector but for all companies and investors, but I don't think it will impact the growth. There are other several valid reasons for investment here," A.V. Ramam, vice-president, Hyderabad Software Exporters Association (HYSEA), told IANS.

On the day of blasts and on Monday when a shutdown was called by some political parties, it was business as usual in Hitec City, the IT district which houses majority of companies employing over 150,000 people.

"It is time the government beefs up security and improves intelligence. It should give proper signals and if it fails to do so it will signal its failure," said Ramam, who heads the India development centre of Invensys, a technology management multinational.

Ramam said all 450 employees of Invensys turned up for work. He pointed out that at Ascendas IT park, where Invensys is located, operations were not hit and all 4,000 techies were present.

"I don't think the blasts will have any impact because India has tremendous resilience. The country has seen several blasts during the last few years and things returned to normal the very next day," said J.A. Chowdary, managing director, Nvidia Graphics, a US-based world leader in programmable graphic processor technologies.

He, however, warned that such attacks on a repeated basis could create problems. "If any such thing happens again in the next six months then this may affect investments coming to Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh," he said.

"From the business perspective there will not be any impact. Unfortunately, we are living in an age where safety is not guaranteed in any part of the globe. When it comes to safety there is not too much to choose from," said Bipin Chandra, senior vice-president, Knoah Solutions, a US-based top outsourcing company.

He said it was time the state and central governments improve the intelligence machinery and security systems. "The state government should have tight security measures in place as the investment will go to only the cities with less risk."

The industry leaders said their international clients were not worried because they understood that the problem of terrorism existed everywhere. "There were no inquiries even about travel restrictions and people from other countries continue to come to Hyderabad," said Ramam.

"The answer to this (terrorism) is more economic progress. Terrorist organisations and unsocial elements typically come from economically backward sections. An average human being, if well off in life, will not resort to violence. We have to look for larger participation of people in this economic progress to address the problem," he said.

The IT companies hailed the determination of the people of the city to defeat the designs of the terrorists. "On the positive side, incidents like these are bringing people together. Irrespective of the religion they belong to, people are standing together. Hindus and Muslims were seen helping and consoling each other," said Ramam.

"The mindset of people has changed. This situation is contrary to what was happening in Hyderabad in the past," he said, referring to the communal riots in 1970s and 1980s.

"I adore the attitude of citizens of Hyderabad," said Chowdary, pointing out that the city has not witnessed any major law and order problem for several years.

Making a modest beginning a decade ago, Hyderabad emerged as one of the key clusters on world IT map. Recording a growth rate above the national average over last few years, it registered exports of 185.82 billion ($4.5 billion) in 2006-07.

The city stands fourth in terms of IT exports in the country and second in terms of number of IT companies after Bangalore.

Hyderabad is adding three to four companies every week. It attracted investment of 19 billion during 2006-07.
Source: IANS
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