- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2008


The shacks are made of whatever material is around. Some are just sticks supporting pieces of tarp; others are more sophisticated, with roofs of layered cardboard.

Across the street sits Cyber Pearl, with its high-tech exterior of silver and glass, which contains 500,000 square feet of office space and some of the country’s leading outsourcing companies.

Such contrasts abound in the world’s second-most-populous nation but they are particularly sharp in the Hyderabad Information Technology Engineering Consultancy (HITEC) City. As India edges toward parity with the West, the prosperity of its tech sector brushes against the country’s impoverished, outlying areas.

“The amount of money that has come into the city is fantastic,” said M. Gopi Krishna, the state’s special secretary of IT promotion.

Hyderabad, founded by a Muslim sultan in the late 16th century, is the fifth-largest city of India and capital of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Originally known for its pearls and minarets, the historical metropolis has added software and outsourcing to its specialties.

Last year, state software exports were at $2.7 billion, a 48-percent jump over the previous year. Across India, growth averaged 36 percent.

Hyderabad’s business-friendly government has waged an aggressive marketing campaign to transform it into a technology capital. Companies are wooed with regulatory incentives that include exemptions from the Pollution Control Act as well as the mandatory power cuts to conserve energy.

“They don’t feel harassed,” Mr. Krishna said.

The persuasion process involves more than the absence of government action, however. The state continues to invest in infrastructure — a new airport and rail system are on the way — and has given away land to encourage the construction of new IT parks, where it hopes to persuade international heavyweights to either set up shop or farm out their business to Indian firms.

The strategy must be working. Google, Accenture, Motorola, Dell and Oracle are just a few of the American companies with an office in Hyderabad. Microsoft’s biggest campus, aside from its headquarters in Redmond, Wash., is also located here.

Cyber Towers, an imposing IT park that looks like an overweight cylinder, marked the beginning of HITEC City nearly a decade ago. It was followed by Cyber Gateway, a building complete with landscaped gardens, fountains and an amphitheater. Cyber Pearl, which opened at the end of 2004, was the third phase of the HITEC City initiative.

Currently, there are 29 IT campuses and parks in the area and 15 more are on the way according to Mr. Krishna.

Satyam Computer Services, one of India’s “Big Four” IT and outsourcing companies — the others being Infosys Technologies, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro Technologies — is headquartered here, where the company turned 120 acres of barren land into a sprawling, green campus that houses 4,300 of about 40,000 total employees. The property has its own bus system, a golf course, pools, gyms and even a place where horses are brought in on the weekends. Satyam’s headquarters also features a zoo with peacocks, chickens, emus and rabbits. Kangaroos are on the way.

But Hyderabad’s technology boom translates into more than pretty campuses. Companies are plugging revenue back into the area in an attempt to neutralize the poverty still plaguing the city and surrounding villages.

“That prosperity has not trickled down,” said Verghese Jacob, who leads education and adult literacy programs for the charitable Byrraju Foundation.

Funded by Satyam Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju, the foundation “adopted” 172 rural villages across Andhra Pradesh, providing residents with health care, water and sanitation services, primary education, adult literacy and work force development. The services are offered for free at first; eventually, the nonprofit transfers control of the programs to villagers with the hope they become self-sufficient.

“If we do not become competitive in our rural areas, then the next outsourcing will come from Bangladesh or Vietnam,” Mr. Jacob said. To foster rural competitiveness, Byrraju trains villagers for six months and then arranges for them to perform back-end outsourcing work, such as data processing or verifying company taxi bills.

“This is not mere charity; the idea is to build capacity,” he added.



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