Rediff Logo News Find/Feedback/Site Index
October 5, 1999


E-Mail this interview to a friend

The Rediff Election Interview/B V R Mohan Reddy

'Naidu's contribution cannot be measured in direct terms'

B V R Mohan Reddy has been closely associated with the Hyderabad IT industry for more than a decade and a half. As the managing director of the now-defunct Secunderabad-based OMC Computers Limited, Reddy is said to have pioneered the introduction of CAD/CAM in India. In 1992, he founded Infotech Enterprises Limited, a successful software export company.

Excerpts from an exclusive interview with the IEL chairman and managing director by J S Sai:

What are Chandrababu Naidu's achievements in the last four and a half years?

Chandrababu Naidu has marketed the state -- and in the process the country - very well. Now we have lot more jobs with the entry of several big names like Baan, Metamore and Microsoft.

Once the elections are over you can see what he has done.

The liberation drive of the 1990s at the national level had removed several hindrances, obstacles. The IT industry was then looking for a short start-up for software ventures. Hi-Tec City was a good move in this direction.

You said we have got more jobs. Could we quantify?

It is very difficult to do that. What he has done was more in the nature of a wake-up call for politicians around the country - that if we have the mindset, there could be a lot more growth. Naidu's efforts have benefited not only the state but also the rest of the country. For instance, Bangalore has realised it has much more potential.

Naidu's contribution cannot be measured in direct terms. Many people have drawn indirect benefits.

He has taken several initiatives - the creation of the Indian Institute of Information Technology, International Business School, Hi-Tec City, etc - which would bring results in the long term.

Has he lived up to the hype created by the media?

That question is very easy to answer. It has been posed several times before.

Any development has a natural gestation time. There was a lot of publicity because it was a marketing exercise. But it cannot be considered hype because you will see the results in the near future.

Will we see spectacular growth?

I don't know about spectacular growth. But he has given it a lot of visibility.

There was a lot of talk about Cyberabad being a serious threat to Bangalore. How far was it true?

If someone says we are on par with Bangalore, it is not true. I don't think Naidu said that.

Hyderabad seems to be lagging behind with even Pune overtaking it...

I won't go into details like when or whether Pune has overtaken us... I see that the initiative has been taken, the awareness created. To that extent I am pleased with what is happening. It is good to see that everything is happening right here.

There are no shortcomings at all?

There had been some problems. But we made representations to the government, and they tried to set them right. Everything requires time, everything has a natural period of gestation. Very soon there will be results.

Will you be able to sustain growth during the gestation period?

Yes. But there has always been criticism. Initially, when the industry had registered over a hundred per cent growth, critics said it was achieved because the base was very small. But the industry has been able to sustain growth.

Is the Hyderabad IT industry handicapped because of the lack of an international airport?

Yes, it is certainly an impediment. It hurts the industry as most professionals waste at least six hours waiting for a domestic aircraft after their arrival in Bombay.

What's the impact of the arrival of giants like Microsoft?

Both positive and negative. As a citizen of Hyderabad, I feel good about the development. But then, smaller companies have to compete with them in getting projects. Also, the cost of hiring professionals has shown a phenomenal rise. Bangalore went through this when the multinationals arrived...

Does this have a bearing on our exports?

Yes. Certainly. India may soon lose the advantage of price arbitrage - getting international projects because of the lower cost of implementation.

As we go along, perhaps we will lose that advantage. And, if we have to survive the cut-throat competition, we have to acquire quality arbitrage. Then we will have the ability to handle larger projects without compromising on quality.

How does the industry plan to improve quality when there have been grave allegations about fake IT experience certificates, fake degrees...?

Such things are happening. In any economy there will certainly be black sheep who will try to exploit the loopholes. But in Hyderabad, the media has blown it up. The problem has not reached a stage where it should cause concern.

Would the IT industry be affected in case Chandrababu Naidu loses the election?

The industry has gained enough momentum now to succeed. The absence or presence of one individual would not affect it. Will any politician now shelve the process of liberalisation? No politician can do that.

But Naidu keeps saying that the state would go back at least 20 years if he loses power.

That is not true. He is a politician, and so has to say such things to survive. Even if he is not in power, the state will continue to go forward. Maybe, there would be slower growth.

'Technology is not the issue... It is about managing the change,' says R Chandrashekhar
The Rediff Election Interviews

Tell us what you think of this interview