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Mysore, an alternative IT destination

By Our Staff Correspondent

MYSORE, AUG. 11. While IT majors in Bangalore are contemplating halting their expansion plans in the city in view of the burgeoning population, growing traffic congestion, and scarcity of land, the software industry in Mysore is not only smug over the comparatively calmer scenario here, but also actively considering its expansion on account of the availability of land at a cheaper cost.

Observers of the IT scene in Mysore were quick to draw a sharp contrast between the situation in the two cities, separated by barely 140 km, vis--vis traffic density, and availability of land at reasonable rates.

If commuting between office and home in Bangalore is agonisingly long and arduous, the roads in Mysore offer a relatively smooth and fast journey between home and the workplace.

No infrastructural problems

"Fortunately, we do not have the type of infrastructural problems, which are plaguing Bangalore," said the spokesperson of Software Paradigms India (SPI) Pvt. Ltd., an export-oriented unit established in Mysore since 1997 as an offshore centre for SPI, Atlanta.

SPI has two offices in the city and more than 300 employees.

"By the end of the year, we plan to have more than 600 employees on board. We have also diversified into business process outsourcing (BPO)," the spokesperson for the software unit pointed out.

An IT expert pointed out that physical expansion of software units in Mysore would be less difficult in comparison to a similar exercise in Bangalore.

"The land value in Mysore is less than a quarter of the rates prevailing in Bangalore. Physical expansion entails far lower expenditure here than in Bangalore," he said.

The chief executive officer of Infosys, Nandan Nilekani, has held out a veiled threat that the IT major would be constrained to look elsewhere for its inevitable expansion if the company was not able to secure 300 acres of land in Bangalore.

Infosys has already planned to invest Rs. 500 crores and employ more than 5,000 employees in Mysore shortly.

Though the software industry in Mysore accounts for barely one per cent of the State's contribution, IT experts foresee a huge potential for the city emerging as an alternative IT destination.

IT experts also point out that the IT industry in Mysore has grown faster than in Bangalore in terms of percentage growth.

While the growth of software development in Bangalore has barely crossed 50 per cent every year, the software generation in Mysore has crossed 100 per cent, from Rs. 80 lakhs in 1998-99 to Rs. 183 crores in 2003-04.

"It does not get reflected because the volume of software production is negligible when compared to Bangalore," said an IT expert.

Similarly, the number of software units in Mysore too has grown from just two in 1997-98 to 27 at present.

"When it comes to technical infrastructure like bandwidth, the service provided by the Software Technical Park of India (STPI) and private players is as good as the services available in Bangalore. The STPI office in the city also helps bring about a coordination between the IT companies and the Government," an IT expert said.

Trained manpower

Another advantage for the IT industry in city is the easy availability of trained manpower, thanks to the presence of three engineering colleges offering courses in electronics and computer science, besides hundreds of recognised institutes where thousands of skilled personnel are trained every year.

The slow pace of work on establishing an air-link for Mysore, absence of a good highway between Mysore and Bangalore, and failure of the authorities to expedite the doubling of the railway track between the two cities are seen as hurdles to the growth of the IT industry in Mysore, despite its potential.

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