Monday, January 11, 2010

TDF in 2009

2009 was a bad year alright, pretty much no one disputes that, but that made it imperative for the Trivandrum Development Front to re-double its efforts. And indeed, this year was a busy one for us.

To start off the year came the Trivandrum Capital Region (TCR) master-plan seminar organised by TRIDA on January 28 and 29, in which TDF was a knowledge partner on the topic of the Knowledge Sector - IT, R&D, biotechnology and so on. TDF presented in detail to the audience on the impact that the growth of knowledge industries would have on the development of the TCR. The seminar saw presentations on almost all topics related to urban development and planning and the idea was to evolve a basic white paper which would act as the basis for the creation of the TCR. However, it took TRIDA nearly a year to get the document in shape and hand it over to the Local Self Government department. TDF diligently followed up both with TRIDA and the LSG Ministry to ensure that the valuable work done in January was not lost.

TDF was also part of bunch of organisations led by the Trivandrum Bar Council which have been waging a long, lonely battle for the restoration of the High Court Bench in Trivandrum. TDF members joined the relay hunger strike for the Bench in front of the Court Complex at Vanchiyoor on several occasions. Yours truely went on strike for TDF on the 409th day.

The General elections rolled in with the month of March and the excitement was about the candidature of Dr Shashi Tharoor in Trivandrum. TDF met with the various candidates to understand the extent of their focus on the development of the capital city. It was Dr Tharoor's development agenda which stood out in its detail and ambition. In its own humble way, TDF seconded his candidature. We are apolitical and for us, the focus on development matters more than ideology. Since his thumping victory, TDF has worked with Dr Tharoor and his team on a number of initiatives including exploring the twinning of Trivandrum with Barcelona.

June 2009 brought a major challenge to TDF and every other like-minded organisation when the development plan for the Vizhinjam project collapsed. TDF was at the fore-front of campaigning for swift conclusion to the chaos that gripped the project in the first half of 2009. We were disappointed at the callous disregard shown by much of the mainstream media to this all important issue with the only interest being to stir up controversy and confusion. In particular, protests were vocal about the attitude taken by the Manorama to the Vizhinjam project and to major projects in Trivandrum in general.

Throughout its seven or so years of existence, TDF has identified the IT/ITES industry as key to the development of Trivandrum because of the level of fit between the requirements of the industry and the strengths of our city such as human resource availability, R&D strength and world-class IT infrastructure. It also has the best employment generation-to-investment ratio possible which is critical to Kerala's service sector-oriented economy. 2009 year was a year where we had much to do in this regard.

Sadly, we seemed to be among the very small minority that saw the opportunity to become an IT powerhouse slipping from Kerala's grasp once more as infrastructure development crawled to a halt. KSITIL, formed in 2007 to develop Technocity and other projects, totaling over 1000 acres of prime land and an estimated Rs 10,000 Crores of investment, continues to remain as a two-man, one room operation. TDF pointed this out to the Government repeatedly while we also sought to bring some clarity to the Government's hydra-headed IT strategy by suggesting our own best-in-practice strategy for developing IT infrastructure, which calls for the development of a single IT hub capable of competing with the likes of Pune or Hyderabad.

Sensing the abject lack of any effort on the Government's part to market the Rs 6000 Crore Technocity project, despite the fact that it offers what is possibly the last chance for Kerala to become a Tier I State in the IT/ITES industry as well as of meeting the LDF Government's ambitious target of generating 200,000 jobs in the IT/ITES industry, TDF launched its own campaign to promote the project. We created a business case for the project based on discussions with the Government and e-mailed it out to about 35 of the leading commercial real estate developers in India and across the world. TDF also carried out a pro bono study for a leading international firm interested in the project as well as facilitated the visits of two teams of Asian investors with a focus on the project.

2009 ended with the biggest IT/ITES event ever hosted at Trivandrum, CII's India IT Summit, which was held at the Leela Kempinski, Kovalam. TDF partnered with Technopark to create a campaign entitled "Intelligent Trivandrum" to promote Trivandrum as a top IT/ITES destination. We created a 8-page brochure and video presentation in the small matter of a week and distributed both at the conference, which was attended by top management from Infosys, TCS, Wipro, IBM, Cisco, Oracle and Microsoft among others. The brochure and CD will also be mailed out to key developers who could potentially invest in Technocity and other IT projects in and around Trivandrum.

Our efforts seemed to have started to make an impact. The most encouraging part was the fact that TDF was invited by the High Power Committee to Expedite Projects (HPCEP) which includes former Chief Secretary, Mr V Ramachandran and Dr Jayathilak, Secretary - Water Resources, and aims to identify the causes of delays to major projects like Vizhinjam and Technocity and to suggest ways of expediting them. TDF made a detailed presentation to the Committee.

TDF had a busy year in 2009 and 2010 promises to be no less packed if we are to ensure that Trivandrum does not miss the opportunities of a resurgent economy. TDF was stretched to the limit both in terms of manpower and resources because, in addition to not accepting external funding, we have very few people on the ground in Trivandrum and even those few of us are working professionals. 2009 was dotted with a few successes and a few set-backs as well. Looking forward to 2010, we hope to increase our impact and garner more resources and people for this struggle, which is often against vested interests with infinitely greater capabilities.

But we will carry on, stay tuned folks!

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant Blog Ajay. I read Every Post of yours and What you & your collegues at TDF are doing is a truly path breaking exercise for the city of TVM.

    I am an IT Professional working in London and is related to TVM by Marriage. Is there any way I can be of some help?.

    Do send me a mail if i could.


Thanks for your comment, I will take a look at it and put it up at the earliest.