Nasscom, Nasdaq Coming to Pune

Firodia, chairman of two-wheeler giant Kinetic Engineering, took over as
president of the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA)
in September 2000. Under his leadership, the chamber has identified infotech and
biotech as the thrust areas for Pune, recognizing the tremendous potential the
city offers these industries. He spoke to Dataquest about the city and its
prospects for the future. Excerpts:

On infrastructure in Pune:

With the expansion plans of VSNL, BSNL and private investors in providing
improved communication facilities, bandwidth will boost investment in the IT
industry in Pune. The second phase of the IT park in Hinjewadi is also in full
swing, the first having received an overwhelming response.

On Pune’s HR talent pool:

Pune is fortunate to have quality manpower, excellent communication links and
good power supply. It has a highly sophisticated blend of bio-informatics, and
high-end research and product development. It is also a premier education center
with a large number of national level institutions. Pune’s strong engineering
base has served as a backbone for R&D and IT in the initial stages. Pune’s
educational institutions produce more than 3,000 IT professionals
every year.

On the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce’s IT initiatives:

In 1996, the chamber set up a software committee, which prepared a 10-year
blueprint, ‘To Make Pune the Software Capital of Asia’. The report has
outlined a strategic plan, outlining steps to ensure that Pune works on its
strengths and acquires a prominent place on the global IT scenario. The chamber
also is making efforts to attract major IT players to Pune. We conduct seminars,
conferences and presentations for global IT experts for the benefit of the IT
industry from this region. This will ensure that they become world-class in
their respective areas.

On the chamber’s promotional efforts:

Pune has a presence of many IT multinationals such as PTC, IBM, Cirrus Logic,
Versant, Veritas and Pace. It also has presence of major domestic companies such
as Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Satyam, MBT and Patni Computer Systems. We have
contributed to the formulation of IT policies for Maharashtra. We are trying to
spread the awareness about e-commerce in rural areas. Our efforts have resulted
in growth of software exports from Rs 4 crore in 1998-99 to Rs 1,200 crore in
1999-00. This may touch Rs 1,800 crore this year. We are working with several
training institutes to ensure that right kind of manpower is available for the
IT industry. Perfect synergy has been achieved among MCCIA, STPI, MIDC, PMC and
the Computer Society of India.

On the incubation and VC funding in Pune:

The chamber conceptualized the first incubator for the IT industry in its
premises. We are trying to forge an effective link between sound VCs and
startups. We are also trying to get angel investors to support the netpreneurs
in the city.

On government bodies and their role:

The chamber promoted the first software incubation center in its premises to
offer space and latest hardware to start-up enterprises in cooperation with STPI.
It has also recently brought out a directory of IT industry. In our effort to
promote Pune as a major IT center, we have approached the Pune Municipal
Corporation and the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation to allocate
separate funds for global promotion efforts. We are holding constant dialogues
with diplomats of all major countries such as the US, Germany, the UK,
Australia, Israel and Sweden to promote the capabilities of the IT sector in
Pune. An ‘Israel Desk’ is also being planned at the chamber’s office.

On other government initiatives for the IT sector:

STPI, the Maharashtra government, MIDC and PMC have extended all possible
support for developing infrastructure for the IT industry in the city and
surrounding areas. An Indian Institute of Information Technology has also been
sanctioned for Pune. A major IT institute is also being set up by the city
varsity in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University of the US.

On how Pune’s IT industry can grow:

Entry of global leaders, expeditious setting up of the Indian Institute of
Information Technology and a separate international airport for Pune are
crucial. The chamber has planned to set up an international convention center in
which a special segment will be reserved for IT. We are also trying to set up
video-conferencing facilities. Offices of Nasdaq and Nasscom are being set up in
Pune in the near future. It will also give a boost to IT industry here.

On the areas in which Pune can emerge as a major base:

IT-enabled services such as call centers, back office operations, medical
transcription and content as well as engineering data management,

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