Hyderabad’s growth to power Telangana: KTR Rao
The new government in Telangana is making it loud and clear that it’s willing to play hardball and is pulling out all the stops to transform Telangana.
It believes that its capital Hyderabad will be the engine that powers the state’s economic growth, luring investments with its well-heeled infrastructure and cosmopolitan character and, in turn, taking the battle directly to cities like Bangalore and Chennai — which are the current investor favourites in the south.
Hyderabad’s growth, which soared in the earlier part of the previous decade, faced roadblocks after agitations for Telangana intensified, but the state’s IT and panchayat raj minister K Taraka Rama Rao (KTR) said all that will soon change.
"We want to send out a loud message to the people around the world that it is business as usual in Hyderabad," said KTR, 37, the son of the state’s chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.
"That is the reason why we have started focussing excessively on the IT sector." He acknowledged that the businessfriendly brand image of Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu could come in the way of attracting investments, especially due to the incentives that are likely to be given to that state.
"We have no problem if you (Centre) are giving (special category status) to AP by making an exemption as it doesn’t fit it into the category," said KTR.
"To create a level-playing field, we want the exemption extended to us.Otherwise, there would be a flight of capital from Telangana to AP." The Telangana government is keen to revitalise growth in Hyderabad, which KTR said, "has some unique advantages which no city can take away from. Compared to Bangalore, Hyderabad has thrice the infrastructure available at a third of cost. Similarly, Hyderabad enjoys twice the infrastructure of Chennai at half of the cost," he said.
KTR attributes the recent dip in Hyderabad’s IT sector growth to the absence of political stability, decisive leadership and global economic slowdown. "Investors do not invest in a place for charity or because they like a place or leader but for return on investments and conducive atmosphere. Hyderabad offers exactly that."
Telangana is now readying a blueprint to spur growth in the IT sector. Steps to set up India’s largest startups incubator in alliance with Indian School of Business and IIIT and making Hyderabad India’s first fully Wi-Fi enabled city through 4G services of Reliance, Airtel and BSNL are part of the strategy, said KTR.
The management graduate in e-commerce from the City University of New York has already held several rounds of parleys with IT industry captains to attract large investments in the IT Investment Region proposed for Hyderabad.
"We wanted to send out a message that we mean business and that we want to hit the ground running," said KTR.
He is now focusing on areas that Hyderabad is deficient in. “What we realised is that Hyderabad does not have an ecosystem that nurtures and supports innovation and research and development.
Another thing is that while Hyderabad has a number of professional and engineering colleges, it does not produce enough number of readily employable graduates. "We produce fantastic programmers acknowledged all over the world but can’t boast of a Zuckerberg or a Larry Page," said Rao.