The origin and evolution of India’s Silicon Valley

2 Nov

By the early 1990s, Bangalore had became a hot destination with about 1,500 multinational IT companies establishing a presence in the city—all of them lured by the highly educated pool of human resources. These myriad IT firms churn out 38% of India’s $22 billion IT and software exports, according Bangalore as India’s high-tech capital.

What were the drivers of Bangalore’s success story? Industrial infrastructure, engineering education and industrial policy. Today, Bangalore is not only India’s IT capital, but also the capital of aeronautics, automotive components, bio-technology, electronics machine tools, space research, science research, defence science research and silk industry.

The city’s growing techno status has also meant that it has become a must-stop on the itinerary of political heavyweights visiting India. The British, Chinese and Singapore prime ministers have all come to Bangalore paying visits to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Infosys.

Bangalore’s connectivity to the rest of the world, especially the Western nations, has dramatically increased in recent years thanks to the number of international airlines which have begun operating direct flights from the city.

Bangalore now houses the third busiest airport in the country after Delhi and Mumbai. The demographic profile has changed with people from across the country coming here for better job prospects and making the city their home.

The state was a pioneer in encouraging private participation in engineering education and this led to the creation of several engineering colleges in the early 1980s. Today, there are over 200 engineering colleges, leading to a rich source of technical talent.
After Independence, Bangalore became home to six public sector undertakings. Also automotive components manufacturer Motor Industries Company Bosch set up their manufacturing facility in the city in 1954. In 1972, Indian Space Research Organisation was established in the city to have a synergistic relationship with the HAL.

Today, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has 12 labs related to aerospace, electronics and radars in Bangalore. Another important development in the mid 1970s was when RK Baliga, then MD & chairman of the state public sector undertaking Karnataka State Electronics Corporation, established an electronics park spread over 335 acres. He had spoken about the need to make Bangalore the Silicon Valley of India.

This helped attract some electronics units to Bangalore and laid the foundations for the IT capital. Perhaps, these positive factors prompted Infoys and Wipro to make Bangalore their headquarters.A far sighted state government provided the right impetus to their ambitious. These initiatives ensured that the city had an unparalleled ecosystem for attracting and retaining technical talent as well as an excellent vendor base.

Eventually, a significant step in the transformation of the city into an IT hub was the entry of a US hi-tech company in 1984 when Texas Instruments (TI) set up a R&D facility here. TI’s presence attracted the attention of global IT majors like Intel and IBM in the early 1990s. Another milestone was in 1992, when the DoT set up satellite earth stations for high-speed communication.
Also the Y2K problem, which had the potential to affect computers worldwide helped to bring the city into sharp focus and ride the IT boom like never before.

The world class IT Park developed in Whitefield called the International Technology Park Limited was another significant step.

Today, allIT majors have a presence in Bangalore with statistics showing that of the 871 MNCs which have set up R&D centres in India, over 700 are located in Bangalore. Clearly, Bangalore has evolved an edge over other IT cities like Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai — besides the National Capital Region that comprises the areas around New Delhi.

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