Paradise Found

Perhaps no other city of compa-rable size in India has seen the kind of transition that Pune has in the last 30 years. Few would know that Pune’s association with the software industry dates back to the early eighties-the time when Infosys had set its shop in form of a small home office in the city. The first STPI scheme too was launched in this very city. Despite having the early bird advantage, the city failed to capitalize on the lead it had in the software development scene.

Winds of change
But things are changing fast. Following Mumbai and Banglore’s growth path, the software community in Pune has devised plans to put the city on the IT map. The elements distinguishing Pune from the other centers are: methodical planning for infrastructural growth; eliciting support from and networking with NRIs; involvement and commitment of civic, industry, trade, and government officials; methodical charting of the roadmap, and transforming the entire process into a movement with a missionary zeal.

This is happening at a time when the entire nation has trained its sight on the city. The state government has declared 1999 as the State IT year with special focus on Pune. The IT task force has strongly recommended the need to devise a growth plan for the city which it has claimed essential for the emergence of India as a super power. Says SK Gupta, Director, STPI, Pune, “It is well accepted that if India is to reach a target of $50 billion by the year 2008, Pune’s contribution becomes indispensable.” And taking up this challenge, the software community in return has set a very ambitious target for themselves-$4 billion of exports by 2010. A tall order for a center whose exports is barely few hundred crore. Exports from STPI Pune units for 1997-98 were around Rs275 crore. This year it’s slated to touch Rs500-crore mark.

Pune’s software industry primarily consists of start-up firms. The number of few big firms contributing to its overall performance is not very large. There are 384 software development companies in Pune, out of which 12 are large sized (100 developers and above), 50 medium-sized (50-100 developers), and the rest small development companies.

However, the scene is likely to change soon. Infosys is setting up a 2,300 man-year operation, construction work of which has already started at the upcoming Pune Infocity in Hinjawadi. Wipro has acquired 25 acre of land to setup a software facility there. Another big venture coming up is a 300 man-year project being setup by a Netherlands-based company. But the aggregation of these three big projects is likely to increase the turnover of software exports from the
city by manifolds. Export turnover from Pune is likely to triple by 2001 to Rs 1,500 core. “The state IT Task Force has set a target of $10 billion exports by 2010 and we want Pune to contribute 40 per cent of that,” says Gupta.

Pune is better equipped with infrastructure than any other city in the country. Availability of land, power, and water makes it easier for one to set up an industry in Pune. As part of its move to attract more software developers and companies to Pune, the civic authorities have simplified the procedures and have proactively developed schemes. There is enough land in and around Pune, earmarked for setting up industries. Pune Infocity is a point in case. Spread across a area of 200 acre of land, its already creating a lot of excitement in the software industry. After the coming of Wipro and Infosys, a lot mid and large size companies have shown their willingness to come to the city.

The Maharashtra government has an ambitious plan to create a knowledge corridor stretching from Mumbai to Pune covering the New Bombay and Mahape The broad outlay of this plan envisages setting up of software parks, colleges, residential complexes improving infrastructure-road, connectivity and other basic amenities along this stretch of about 200 km. Pune will certainly play an important role in this project.

State government is trying its best to get a IIIT at Pune. Also, a Software engineering college is on the cards in affiliation with a well known foreign university. This apart from the recently established Software engineering college by Mahindra in affiliation with Carnegie Mellon University. Pune University has been identified as one of the few Universities to be connected to the Vidyavahini network proposed by the Center.

The under utililzed earth station at Arvi has been taken over by VSNL to ensure the better utilization of bandwidth which will be relaunched in March. ETH Research Lab has started work on establishing its National Internet network which is expected to start its service soon. The Maharastra Cable Association has been the first association in the country to set-up a cable network to provide Internet. They have already invested hugely in setting up the infrastructure of the project to server 2 million customers. These two mega projects are bound to increase the IT penetration of the city thus guaranteeing a flourish in the domestic industry. This in turn will help take-off the software scene in the city.


Top five SW exporters

Companies

Turnover

Rs cr (97-98)

MBT

44.05

Infosys

32.01

TCS

20.42

ComputerVision

18.74

KPIT

13.59

Source: STPI, Pune

Ready to take off
These factors put Pune on a higher trajectory for growth. Another advantage that Pune enjoys and will come handy to foster exponential growth is the fact that Pune since beginning has focused on high value activities of developing core technologies and software products for the global market. These products have often in the area of systems software and systems tools rather than in application areas like financial accounting or anti-virus-segments which are more populistic but figure lower in the value chain. Manpower-based time and material contracts figure lower in the value chain and do not lend a competitive edge to the nation. And technological innovations always come from small start-up companies. This has been true even in the case of Silicon Valley. Pune is poised to cash on this value shift. Companies like Persistent Systems, Cirrus logic, Scala Mindworks are doing some pioneering technological work in the city. Database management and CASE tools, security tools, Internet software, and electronic design automation technologies are some of the focus areas. According to a study, Pune boasts of the largest number of small software product development companies in the country.

Till now the involvement of the State Government was not very evident, over the years, in the development of Pune as a software center. But now all concerned agencies, government, non-government and private bodies are together working its way towards making the dream a realization. The thrust is to project Pune as the next destination after Mumbai for companies planning to set shop in the state. Other factor that the government has taken in consideration is setting up secondary software centers in various cities close by. One such software park is planned in Nagpur. And who knows they can become major destination tomorrow.

But right now all roads, according to State Government lead, to Pune as far as software community is related. Nothing can stop making Pune the IT hot-spot.

Advantage Pune

In an amazingly short span of 30 years, Pune has emerged as one of the most industrialized cities of India. A peek into what makes the city an ideal IT destination.

Pune can, in fact, be called a pot pourri of old and new. It is just the right blend of peace and prosperity. Peace which comes from the city’s strong linkages with its culture and prosperity from its industrialization. It has got all what it takes to become perfect a cosmopolitan city.

It boasts of the National Defence Academy, Institute of Military Engineering, the Film and Television Institute, Armed Forces Medical College, Deccan College (Linguistics and Archaeological studies). In a nutshell, the city offers students an array of educational opportunities to choose from. On the other hand, it’s regarded as the most industrialized city in the country, what with the automobile heavy-weights like Tata and Kirloskar.

After the state government’s restrictions on the use of any land further for industries in Mumbai, Pune was but the natural choice for new industries. First, due to its proximity to Mumbai and secondly due to its comparatively low real estate prices. The Bombay-Pune rail corridor in Pimpri-Chinchwad made for a convenient location. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, Pune had the necessary infrastructural facilities like power, water and transportation. It also provided enough skilled manpower, and technical resources both in entrepreneurial and managerial terms. And there was the added advantage of a salubrious climate round the year.

The mushrooming of industries saw the Pune Municipal Corporation establishing the Hadapsar industrial estate in 1956. In 1960, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) undertook the development of the 4,000-acre Bhosari industrial area in the Pimpri-Chinchwad industrial complex. Today, it is one of the largest industrial estates in the country. Over the years, more industrial areas have sprung up in Khadki, Kothrud and along the Pune-Ahmednagar road. Where once farmers tilled land and cattle grazed, today there are large buildings with modern facades which present a spectacle of lights and activity even at night.

The state government’s policy of offering a package scheme to ensure dispersal of industry has resulted in industry spreading to areas within a 50-km radius of Pune. This has resulted in large-scale rural upliftment and employment.

The scenario now
The forte of Pune’s industrial scenario are the giant engineering and automobile companies. These in turn have spawned innumerable small- and medium-sized ancillary units. Other major industries in the region are electrical, machine tools, pharmaceutical and chemicals, rubber, paper, plastics, glass and various packaged goods and agro-based goods. Since the beginning of this decade till today, the number of units have virtually doubled.

There are now more than 7,000 small, medium and large units in the Pune industrial region. The number of listed companies (in the Pune Stock Exchange) increased from 130 by the end of 1990 to 298 by March 1997. Investments also saw a quantum jump from Rs3,200 crore in 1990 to Rs12,500 crore till 1996. During the period, turnover increased from Rs5,450 crore to Rs26,100 crore. Most significantly, between 1990 and 1996, exports increased from Rs230 crore (63.88 million US dollars) to Rs800 crore (222.22 million US dollars). This is a four-fold increase. Employment in the organized industrial sector has also doubled from two lakh to four lakh, and about 70% of this labour force is semi-skilled, skilled or highly skilled. It is perhaps because of this reason that the city has enjoyed a long history of peaceful industrial relations with the workforce. It is the pervading academic atmosphere of the city that ensures a steady availability of skilled and trained manpower.

With a proactive approach taken by the state planners, the policy environment aims at making Pune globally competitive. There is a definite effort to make administrative procedures more streamlined, simple, and expeditiously implementable. The results of such efforts and measures are already visible in the number of MNCs which have set up their base at Pune during the past year. Apart from the better industrial infrastructure, Pune also offers a unique socio-cultural life, replete with all facilities and amenities of a modern metropolis, besides offering a better quality of life as compared to the large metros.

Pune is well connected by road, rail and air to the rest of the country. And is better placed than other cities in India in terms of communications. The telephone exchanges are electronic and fiber optic connectivity ensures high-quality communication.

The future
Pune is well poised to emerge as one of the software capitals in the country. The Pimpri-Chinchwad New Township Development Authority (PCNTDA) is creating three massive buildings to house several software companies in a software park nearing completion. Numerous software companies, some already based in Bangalore, have shown readyness to come to Pune. Perhaps, more so because of the ready availability of trained personnel here. The more than 40 odd training institutes here turn out more than 6,000 professionals each year.

In course of time, perhaps by the turn of the century, with greater infrastructural inputs, the status and stature of Pune could well be compared to the leading industrial cities in the Asian region. Already, Pune is well set on the way to becoming one of India’s gateways to the industrialized.


Catching Up On Missed Opportunities

With both the political will as well as the required infrastructure in place, Pune is all set to hit big time in the infotech world.


Although I have come back to Pune after three decades, one in the US and two long ones in Mumbai. Pune always holds a dear place in my heart since this is where I grew up in terms of my schooling and college education.
I believe that Pune has not received its fair share in terms of the software business it got in comparison to what the city is capable of handling. Most of this, of course, is our own fault and was acknowledged so a few years back, after which Pune has seen a marvelous turnaround in shaping up to attract world-class software business.

I have now been in Pune for the past four years and have been involved in the efforts to promote the city as an ideal destination for software companies to set up their shops in preference to Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. Going back only 3-4 years, I remember being called upon to make presentations or address gatherings to champion Pune’s cause on the world software map. Even despite having identified the shortcomings, both on the infrastructure front as well as in terms of the readiness of the city to attract software business in a serious way, it used to be a frustrating experience to know that nothing much has changed over a period of several months and I could almost do with the same set of presentation slides without making any changes to the same.

However, the scene has completely changed in the last couple of years. I no longer enjoy the luxury of just picking up my old slides and go and make a presentation. There is now a constant flurry of activity going on, with everyone working toward removing the hurdles in the way of Pune becoming a leading city for software business. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone, beginning from the government authorities such as Software Technology Parks (STP), Industries Ministry of the state government, civic authorities, customs, VSNL, Pune Telephones and, of course, both the existing software industry in the city and those desiring to set up shop in Pune.

An important example of this commitment and the speed with which things are happening is the Infocity at Hinjewadi near Pune. Being a part of the core group promoting Pune for this activity, I remember our meeting on June 1, 1998 at the STP Board Meeting where Rajiv Agarwal, who had then just come in as the new Commissioner of the Pune Municipal Corporation, was also present as a special invitee. At this meeting a request was made to him to help the software industry by providing for a piece of land where a world-class Infocity-with all the requisite facilities and amenities-could be established to attract Indian and multinational software companies. And the same afternoon, he put up to the state government a request of making a piece of land, measuring 150 acres, available for setting up an STP. And soon the land was handed over to MIDC for the project. In fact, an additional 60 acre were also made available with full commitment from the CM and the Chief Secretary to make finish the construction at the earliest. Some 50 odd approvals were given within a period of about 40 days, which is a bureaucratic record of sorts. A committee headed by Chief Secretary of the Maharashtra Government and chaired by the Commissioner of the Pune Municipal Corporation, has also been formed to monitor the progress of the project. All this shows that if there is a will, it is very much possible to bring to fruition to any idea.

Following are some of the specific initiatives and improvements that have taken:

Pune Municipal Corporation: Here the contribution of both the current and previous Municipal Commissioners, Rajiv Agarwal and Ramanath Jha respectively calls for an appreciation. The software industry today has very little to demand from the Municipal Corporation, barring the implementation of abolition of octroi for software exports, one of the incentives in the state IT policy announced on Independence Day last year.

Customs and Excise: The procedures and practices affecting the software exporters have significantly been streamlined over the past couple of years. Under the able stewardship of the present Commissioner of Customs GS Narang things are expected to improve further for the software industry. The time required for customs clearances and approvals has come down from weeks to days and in exceptional circumstances even hours in the last few years.

Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL): The special consideration given to the software industry by the previous VSNL Chairman BK Syngal has been continued by his successor Amitabh Kumar. Today, the industry not only gets its required bandwidth which is critical to this business, but even has many cost-effective options to choose from.

Pune Telephones: Thanks to the Chief GM, Swaroop and other GMs Alok Kaul and RV Datar, who gave full support to the speedy implementation of new technologies, today the quality of communication of both local as well as overseas communication has significantly improved.

Software Technology Park, India: SK Gupta, the Director STP (I), Pune, contribution also needs special mention. Gupta has completely changed the software scene in Pune. He played a major role in the setting up of the Infocity. The STP procedures today are simplest in any bureaucracy in the country. The list of Gupta’s initiatives also include an Incubation Center for young software entrepreneurs, overseeing the STP set-up at Vashi etc.
Following are a few suggestions which can further help Pune in becoming a major software center:

* The proximity to Mumbai has not yet been exploited fully. Air connectivity has improved over the years but the national carrier has to also operate in the Mumbai-Pune sector. Work on the new Mumbai-Pune expressway too has commenced. Once completed, it will not only save much commuting time but also improve the safety through divided highways of better quality.

* The pollution levels in the city are growing at alarming rates. A solution needs to be found soon for the pollution created by the three-wheelers, particularly the six seaters. The situation regarding the water and noise pollution is also equally dangerous.

* While large acres of land at the Infocity have been bought by large software companies, care needs to be taken to ensure that the deserving small- and medium-sized software houses are not denied space availability in Infocity.

* The need to upgrade the quality of IT education has also now become more crucial than ever before. Here setting up of an Indian Institute of Information Technology at Pune can be an important step, preferably in collaboration with a renowned international university. The IIIT should be an autonomous body and necessarily in the private sector. Industry-academic collaboration should increase, since it will benefit both.

* If the city has to compete on global levels, a change also needs to be brought in the mindset of the people of Pune. There has to be a more professional approach with less rigidity toward working hours and commuting distances. They need to ‘think big’ and learn to be articulate in international terms without to giving up their cultural values. Entrepreneurial attitudes and skills have to be developed so as to exploit the opportunities available in the city.

With little effort, the city can more than just make up for the missed chances of the past and grab its deserving share of software opportunities.


PRAKASH DESAI,

Director In-charge
ComputerVision R&D (I) Pvt Ltd (Pune),
a Parametric Technology Company.

Giants In The League

Magic Infotech India Pvt Ltd
CEO: VM Uchil (Chairman)
Address: Gurukripa 46 Mukund Nagar
City: Pune – 411 037
Tel: (020) 463065/463066
Fax: (020)46308
Email: uchil@magic.com
Area of Specialization: Software Development


Supertech Computer Solutions Pvt Ltd

CEO: Pradeep Kavathekar (Managing Director)
Address: Tejas Co-op HSG. Soc. Plot No. 24, S.No 28/2 Kothrud,
City: Pune 411 029
Tel: 336666, 362307, 362234
Fax: 347190
Email: supertech@giaspn01.vsnl.net.in/ supertech.india@vsnl.com
Area of Specialization: Software Development, Consultancy, Training and Services


Scott Systems Pvt Ltd

CEO: Murali Santhanam
Address: Mastech Center, 18, Viman Nagar
City: Pune – 411 014
Tel: (020)-688 688
Email: milind@india.mastcech.com
Area of Specialization: Consultancy, Training and Offshore Development


SEACOM

CEO: Ajay Agarwal
Address: Vazir Towers, 86/2 Wanowarie Indl. Area Salunke Vihar Road
City: Pune – 411 040
Tel: 671078, 610546
Fax: 020-671 933
Email: seacom@giaspn01.vsnl.net.in
Area of Specialization: Peripherals


Sungrace Engineering Projects Pvt Ltd

CEO: Milind Nalrirkar (Director)
Address: 17, Ishdan Society , Paud Road, Kothrud
City: Pune – 411 029
Tel: 020-337457/232661
Fax: 020-232660/347256
Area of Specialization: CAD/CAM/CAE SoftwAre Development and Distribution

Indus Software Pvt Ltd
CEO: Vivek Mannige
Address: 8, Chinar Heights 359-A, Model Colony, Deep Bungalow Chowk
City: Pune – 411 016.
Tel: 350199/359759
Fax: 350437
Email: indus@graspn01.vsnl.net.in
Area of Specialization: Application Software for the Banking and Finance sector


Bay Systems Pvt Ltd

CEO: Sunil J Patil
Address: 21, Mate House, Sindh Housing Society Baner Road
City: Pune 411 007
Tel: 390181
Email: baysystems@isi-america com
Area of Specialization: IT Consulting


Wyse Systems

CEO: YD Wadaskar
Address: Survey 82-1, Plot No 20, Sahakarnagar No 1 Parvati
City: Pune 411 009
Tel: 91-20-524058-525268
Fax: 91-20-522921
Email: sentry@pn2.vsnl.net.in
Area of
Specialization: Software Security Products (Sentry Hardware Lock)


SAI Information Systems Pvt Ltd

CEO: Dr Ramesh Wadhwany
Address: Mubarak Manjil (FF) No 1 Dhole Patil Road
City: Pune 411 001
Tel: 609550 628088
Email: e.mail-saitek@vsnl.com,
Area of Specialization: IT Solution


Scala Mind Works Pvt Ltd

CEO: Milind Thosar, Technical Director
Address: Nirmal House, 43, Suyagna Society Koregaon Park
City: Pune – 1
Tel: 634623/6397464/638927
Fax: 609313
Area of Specialization: ERP-Business


Pace Software Institute Pvt Ltd

CEO: Prabhakar Y Khanapure, Director, Software Development
Address: B-206, Roof & Services, Sawarkar Udyog Bhavan Shivajingar
City: Pune 411 005
Tel: 91-020-328608 / 645
Email: puk@pn.@2.vsnl.net.in
Area of Specialization: Ecommerce, Telecommunications and Systems Software


Cirrus Logic Software (I) Pvt Ltd

CEO: Anand Khandekar Address: 106-A, Muttha Chambers, Senapati Bapat Road,
City: Pune – 411 016
Tel: 371092
Fax: 371090
Email: anand@idc.cirrus.com
Area of Specialization: Algorithm
Development, DSP, Speech/Video Processing, Rraph

Harbinger Systems Pvt Ltd
CEO: Vikas Joshi
Address: 12 Prashant Apts, 44/2 Erandawann,
City: Pune 411 004
Tel: (20) 349 683
Email: into@harbinger-systems.com
Area of
Specialization: Computer and Web-based Training


CG-CoreEL Logic Systems Ltd

CEO: TA Ramaswamy
Address: Surya Bhavan, 1181 Fergusson College Rd
City: Pune 411 005.
Tel: 328074, 323982, 328362
Fax: 323985
Email: corp@cromp.ernet.in
Area of Specialization: Complex Application Specific Integrated Circuit


Cirrus Electronic Systems Ltd

CEO: Sanjiv Mehta
Address: Kamla Height, Cirrus Chambers,443/d, Somwar Peth
City: Pune – 1.
Tel: 632236/630237/633226
Fax: 631132
Email: sanjiv@cirrussoft.com
Area of Specialization: Multilingual Software


Nital Computer Systems Pvt. Ltd.

CEO: Sudarshan Natu (Managing Director)
Address: 38, Electronic Sadan – II Stp M.I.D.C. Bhosari
City: Pune 411 026
Tel: 91-20-792000, 792481,
Fax: 91-20-792483
Email: admin@nital.stpp.soft.net
Area of Specialization: Software Simulation Models For Various Hardware Components


Cybermedia Software Pvt Ltd

CEO: Sandeep Phadke
Address: Survey # 1, Plot # 69, Amchi Colony, Nda-Pashanb Bavdhan Khurd City: Pune 411 021.
Area of Specialization: Windows NT and Windows 95/98, Com, Dcom Activex Control Devel


Microline India Pvt Ltd

CEO: Vinyak Apte
Address: 804/B, Bhandarkar Road,
City: Pune 4 ‡ Tel: 354395
Email: Microline@venl.com
Area of Specialization: Systems Integration


Neilsoft

CEO: Nilanjan Bhattacharya
Address: 61, Patil Arcade, 15, Erandawane
City: Pune 411 004
Tel: 342394/343266
Area of Specialization: Software QA Testing and Software Development


Technlogic

CEO: Sanjeev Tamboli
Address: 4th Floor, Bever Estates, 188/5, Bhandarkar Rd
City: Pune -4
Tel: 378813/32/33
Area of Specialization: Production and Development


Centre For Development Of Advance Computing

CEO: RK Arora (Executive Director)
Address: Campus, Gahnesh Khind
City: Pune -411 007.
Fax: 357551
Email: @cdac.ernet.in
Area of Specialization: High Performance Computing & Communication


Computervision R&D (India) Pvt Ltd

CEO: Prakash Desai
Address: 2nd Floor, Deepak Nitreite Complex 7 National Games
City: Pune ‡ Tel: 212-682135
Fax: 681114/681832
Email: pdesai@ptc.com
Area of Specialization: CAD/CAM and Data Management Software


Datapro Infoworld Ltd

CEO: Rajeev Arora
Address: 113/1, Koregaon park
City: Pune – 411 001
Tel: 630326/635785
Email: @dataproworld.com
Area of Specialization: Training Software Distribution and Consultancy

The Pune Potential

Dataquest spoke to the CEOs of some leading IT companies in Pune on what the city has offer:


"Pune has a large number of engineering institutions, this, to a good extent, helps us meet our growth requirements locally. Similarly, the city’s network of well-connected roads makes commuting fairly easy and less time consuming vis-a-vis other cities."

-TA Ramaswamy, CG-CoreEL Logic Systems Ltd.

"Pune has all the ingredients to become a major IT location in the country given both the quantity and quality of technical institutes in and around the city and the general environment and culture which are very conducive to the growth of IT."

Biswajit Ghosal, CG Powerware.

"Pune is an ever expanding IT city. With facilities like Software Technology Park, Expressway and new education centres coming up, the overall infrastructure of the city will be much enhanced."

Murali Santhanam, MD, Scott Systems Pvt Ltd.

"One of the important long-term advantages that we see in Pune is availability of a substantial talent pool with experience in software technology. The city will gradually change from being a center for execution of projects at lower costs for MNCs to a `silicon valley’ style software development center where new ideas and products will continuously emerge."

Girish G Godbole, Bay Systems Pvt Ltd.

"I see Pune soon becoming the software capital
of India and the Silicon Valley of East. With the
Government of Maharashtra recognizing the importance of IT industry and Pune’s
potential, alongwith the supportive STP Pune, I am sure this will become a reality soon. "

-Sudarsha Natu, MD, Nital Computer Systems Pvt Ltd.

 



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