Author: Aby Antony Paramby
Twenty Five years of Technopark- Hopes and concerns of employees.
‘Hope’ is the one thing which motivates us to live each moment. As far as Technopark is concerned, the ‘Concerns’ themselves are giving way to ‘Hopes’. Concerns which existed when Technopark was conceived 25 years back seem to fade away to history. Still new ‘Concerns’ arise in the minds of employees in the course of time and ‘Hope’ motivates to overcome all. In a place like Kerala, which is famous for various agitations in the industrial world, it is worth mentioning that Technopark has stood the tides for the past 25 years and still continues its journey towards more achievements.
Expectations of each employee may be different. But there are some common hopes which bond together the society to stand for achieving more goals. Technopark has been a major driving force for the integral development of a region. It will continue to play a major role in the development of the region, the country and many firms and establishments centred around it. This will give us enough fortune financially also.
Our state has gone a long way in providing education to youth. Companies established in Technopark has been able to provide jobs to lots of young people graduating from our higher educational institutions every year. As Technopark has greater ambitions to develop more infrastructure with the help of government and other agencies, everyone hopes that subsequently more direct and indirect job opportunities will be thrown open. There are lots of people in our state who are forced to go to other states or countries in search of job due to insufficient number of jobs here. It will not be an exaggeration to say that there are more number of Malayali software engineers in Bengaluru, Chennai and other places, than in Kerala. The flow of engineers and similar professionals to other places can be contained if Technopark can produce more opportunities.
A lot of idea and thoughts have gone out of our country in the form of intellectual property. Those ideas have developed in companies based out of America and Europe and are enriching their economies. If such talent could be held in our country through Technopark, many world famous companies could have based and flourished in our nation. There are many companies in the western world which are having Malayaali/Indian people in senior most positions. Those people used their talents to achieve great things which benefit mankind as a whole. But the economic benefits are going to those nations who employed them. If institutions like Technopark could reduce the flow of talent to western nations, India could benefit financially by it. Also, it is true that institutes or companies which involve heavily in software research is very few in our land. By the next 25 years, people expect that Technopark will be in the forefront to encourage research in software field, thereby inventing new techniques and products.
Recently, our government launched the ‘Make In India’ initiative. It is a huge initiative which encourages making products and services within Indian boundaries. On a high level, the project seems like it is focussing on items like smartphones, automobiles, machines, and other hardware items. Many states have already prepared plans to get involved in it and make the best out of it. If a ‘Code In Technopark’ initiative could be included in the ‘Make In India’ project, then that will be a big lift for the information technology industry, especially for Kerala. India is already well known in the world for making good software. By and large, major contribution to software industry is coming from Karnataka, especially Bengaluru. When comparing the potential of various states in software and related fields, it could be seen that Kerala has huge advantage over others. The number of well qualified youth is high in Kerala. Also the largest information technology park in India is Technopark, which is on track to grow larger. In this context, Technopark should be able to attract large multi-national companies to setup their hubs here with minimum effort. Considering the past successful growth, it will not be difficult to go ahead with the plans. One additional thing needed is good marketing strategies for Technopark.
A major factor which attracts and retains employees in Technopark is the lush greenery within the campus. Through the 25 years of existence, the greenery is well maintained even after doing so much development. It is really an appreciable achievement. Who will not want to work in an environment which gives cool sight for the eyes which are otherwise usually glued to computer monitors for most of the day? No other information technology park in India can claim such a factor. Everyone expects that future developments by Technopark will consider steps to maintain the greenery and charm of campus. If greenery is taken into consideration while developing other phases of Technopark, then that will add delight to the nature friendly ecosystem of Technopark. If the same model can be taken beyond Technopark borders, then that will be helpful to larger sections of society. Taking initiatives to plant trees along roadsides, re-forestation and protecting trees can be done with the help of companies and employees. This will encourage more people to join such initiatives since Technopark has already shown wonderful examples. Similar initiatives can be taken up in waste management also. Recycling waste water, rain water harvesting, small scale farming using bio fertilizers produced using internal wastes, captive power plants using wind and solar energy, nature club, bird sanctuary, etc. can be considered to be encouraged. People knew that few of these activities are already happening and more are on track. This will add to the self-sustainability of Technopark.
The role of government cannot be ignored in the growth of any establishment. Without the financial and political support of governments, Technopark also cannot survive. It is due to the enormous support received from different governments, that Technopark has reached the milestone of 25 years. Even though Technopark has witnessed many local differences and trade union agitations in the initial times of establishment, it has overcome all with the strong involvement of governments and political parties. Kerala is often mocked by outsiders for its own peculiar form of frequent protests known as Harthaal. Even today, Technopark is functioning on such unfortunate days with the help of government machinery. Transportation and other essential operational activities are carried out with the help of police. If governments were not supportive, Harthaal would have affected Technopark, leading to loss of reputation and goodwill that it had generated over years. Such continuous support from governments with willpower are always expected. Governments have been supporting in framing policies and implementing them, which we hope to continue in future.
Unity in diversity is a synonym for India; for Technopark too. It has been able to absorb people and culture from all parts of the world. It will be very difficult to find an instance where cultural intolerance was reported. There are employees from almost all states of India working in Technopark and also from various nationalities. The involvement of various cultures has made it more exciting and vibrant. There is no barrier to religious customs also. Different religious festivals are celebrated in harmony; truly supporting the slogan of Technopark – Harmony @Work. It is encouraging to see that such cooperation between people will continue in future also.
Technopark can play a major role in moulding new generation to take up industry demanding jobs. New generation can benefit a lot if Technopark could make it mandatory that companies should take a fixed number or percentage of internships/volunteerships every year. By this way, the average age of Technopark employees can be kept lower which in turn will add to the vibrancy of the campus. That will help in imbibing new technologies and ideas easily to employees and deploying them to urgent job requirements. Companies will benefit from the short learning curve which saves time, effort and money. The initiative and enthusiasm shown by Technopark in promoting start-up companies is expected to nurture such young talents.
Employees expect time bound changes in the basic amenities and infrastructure provided by Technopark. There are very good roads and buildings of international standards inside the campus. But many roads surrounding Technopark are in bad condition. Many dignitaries and customers used to visit Technopark frequently for various purposes. It will be nice if Technopark authorities could do something on improving road conditions. Also, if adequate lighting could be provided and police patrolling is frequent, then we can avoid the occasional nuisance caused by some anti-social elements which result in damaging the reputation of Technopark. Women employees want a safe and secure environment not only inside the campus, but also on the neighbouring areas of their dwelling near to campus. If there are frequent quality public transportation arrangements to places near Technopark, then employees will definitely avoid private vehicles. This will reduce the traffic congestion which is happening on a daily basis on few of the roads leading to Technopark. Railways stations near to Technopark need to develop to cater to the travel needs of daily commuters. Employees expect that more short and long distance trains will halt at these stations in future. If there are more trains to reach Bengaluru, Chennai and other information technology corridors in India, then it will boost mutual cooperation and will benefit emerging states like Kerala. Even though there is compound wall on all sides of Technopark, one could see stray dogs at various parts of the campus. Technopark authorities are expected to take steps to curb the menace. There should be free wifi, but with limits for everyone inside the campus. It will enrich information sharing and cooperation among employees.
Celebrating 25 years of successful existence is a great thing for any entity. It is worth expecting that the governments will continue to appoint efficient people for leading Technopark. People expect that persons with good talents and vision on future will take Technopark to new heights. The openness with which Technopark authorities have received suggestions and feedbacks from various employee organizations and company associations like G-Tech in formulating policies and events is worth mentioning. Technopark authorities have always consulted with various stake holders in its overall development. Similarly, companies are also bound to play their part in developing Technopark to a world famous software development destination, competing with Silicon Valley of USA. It is extremely important that companies and employees should wholeheartedly support various activities organized by Technopark.
Every entity needs input for growth. As far as Technopark is concerned, it is mainly in the form of capital to meet the growing need for infrastructure. Current source of funding is from government. But governments have limits for pooling due to its social obligations. Technopark should be ready to pool funds from general public by going public. Since Technopark has already earned the trust from employees and other people, it will not be difficult to go public and collect funds for its development. This will reduce dependency on governments for funds, thus freeing its hands. In the process, it will benefit the branding/marketing part of Technopark.
Broadly speaking, any concern about Technopark could be considered as a concern about Kerala. Only handful of enterprises have made success here. Kerala is not favoured as an investment friendly place. Labour disputes, trade unionism, loading-unloading issues, environmental disputes etc. are frequently heard in Kerala which hamper the investment environment. Fortunately such issues were not a major concern for Technopark in the past 25 years. But there is always possibility that such issues may crop up anytime. If the hold of government on Technopark goes down, it is sure that such hidden elements will take precedence. If it happens, it will weaken Technopark and it’s after effects will remain for prolonged periods. It will definitely strip off the goodwill and brandname that Technopark has built-up in the 25 years of existence. It will affect the overall investment scenario in Kerala and any entity will think twice before investing in Kerala.
Information technology and its related sectors are unorganized in India. There are no recognized trade organizations or unions in software industry. It is an industry were the most number of well-educated people are employed. What differentiates software industry from other industries are the high average salary and better life standards. Once the wage difference comes down when compared to other sectors, trade unions may start, demanding more wages. Even though trade unions are starting with good purpose, it can be seen that unhealthy political interferences often hijack the purpose of unions and becomes a threat to companies and the associated industry. Such upheavals may put Technopark off its course and probably leading to its immature death in long term.
Technopark is an enterprise fully controlled by government and they were able to lead it for 25 years without private ownership. Basic amenities and infrastructure were provided without much external help. Privatisation of Technopark for any petty gain may produce unwanted negative results in long term. Privatisation may reduce government ownership and control over Technopark, thus allowing private entities to get upper hand in crucial decisions. Opinions of employees and companies may be discarded and personal interests may get executed. Such decisions may be detrimental to existence of Technopark. As Technopark needs huge funding for its growth, people doubt that the control of Technopark may get into the hands of private entities who may be ready for a takeover by providing funds.
Apart from internal and local issues, there are some external factors affecting Technopark and software industry as a whole. Value of Indian currency against foreign currencies is a major factor in deciding the profits of Indian software companies as more than 75% of revenue is coming from foreign firms. If Indian currency becomes stronger, the current attractiveness of software industry in India may come down. That will affect the outsourcing of jobs to India which may affect Technopark also. Also, any catastrophic event along the scale of World Trade Centre attack of 2001 in America may also reduce projects coming to Technopark.
Technopark is a successful name heard from Kerala in recent years. It has lot more to travel to achieve more and has got the potential to travel well. Current macro and micro environments provide a better position for Technopark in the information technology world. Most of the concerns mentioned are not going to happen in recent future as those leading Technopark has the willpower to face every challenge boldly and has got the support from employees and people of Kerala. We agree that it takes good people to make good society. Let this motto lead Technopark in all its future endeavours. There are wishes and confidence that Technopark had gained from 25 years to guide it for the next 100 years.