Peek Into History: Telugu land’s progress in the information age

(This article is part 4 of The Better Andhra’s ‘History Series’ on development of Andhra Pradesh in the Information Age)
Welcome to the Internet Era!
After N. Chandrababu Naidu became the Chief Minister of united Andhra Pradesh between 1995 and 2004, the state leaped to make the best use of the Internet era and the technology, in every sector. 
With immense demand for development of IT and ITES sector in India, during this time, coupled with economic liberalization, cities had come to the prominence and were being viewed as engines of growth. 
Taking advantage of larger politico-economic changes, Hyderabad began treading the path of city-centric infrastructural development, projecting itself as high-tech and smart so to attract FDIs especially in services sector including ancillary developments of gated residential complexes, ultra-modern shopping malls and multiplexes. In doing so, restructuring of the city became imminent. 
This was also the time when the Chandrababu Naidu-led government was planning on rolling out e-Governance. In 1997, the state government suggested the constitution of a cell for promoting foreign investments in the state. The coordination cell was formed including the representatives of the government and industry bodies.
Hyderabad’s iconic building 
In the same year, a $350 million knowledge enclave known as ‘HITEC City’  (Hyderabad Information Technology and Engineering Consultancy City) was planned in Hyderabad by the government. Banking on the locally available engineering pool and availability of 1.4 million square feet of IT space, helped Hyderabad to attract many international IT giants to setup offices and research centres. Along with this, the plan for an International Airport in Shamshabad also was conceived.
Even as the state began gaining recognition in the IT sector, the inception of International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) as an autonomous, self-supporting institution with seed money from the government, encouraged high-quality interdisciplinary IT education. 
The government also encouraged the participation of the private sector in higher education, in particular, engineering colleges. The impact of these policies and initiatives is reflected in the fact that in 1995/96 there were 32 engineering colleges, which produced 8,000 engineers per year, but by 2009/10 there were 639 engineering colleges, which produced 218,915 engineers per year.
The first phase of HITEC City was inaugurated in 1998 with the completion of the ‘Cyber Towers’ with dedicated optic fiber links, satellite connections, 24-hour electronic security system, shopping points, banking facilities and uninterrupted power supply to facilitate hundreds of software engineers and technicians. 
The policy initiatives of creating HITEC City provided a boost to Hyderabad’s urbanization, and spawned massive developments of gated residential apartments, ‘intelligent’ offices and shopping malls around the HITEC City area.  
Infra companies take shape
With the inflow of IT sector investments, power and infrastructure sectors gained a significant push in the State. Infrastructure groups such as the Lanco Group, GVK, GMR Group, IVRCL and several smaller companies sprang up.
Real estate, an offshoot of the construction business, is also fairly big in the city. Post-2003, Hyderabad like the rest of India, saw a huge construction boom. Several of the construction companies have also entered construction and operation of retail malls.
Industry bodies played a crucial role as a catalyst to the state’s growth during this time. The efforts for the development of the services sector called for investments in premium urban infrastructure. Having already shown some advancement on the IT front, Hyderabad received the highest priority due to investor-friendly policies of the government.
Hyderabad: Home to Software biggies
The state government formulated the first AP State IT Policy in 1999 to attract IT-enabled services firms to Hyderabad.  Virtually, all IT majors including Microsoft, Wipro, IBM, Dell, Computer Associates and Oracle set up their shops in Hyderabad. So visible was the impact of his mission to turn Hyderabad into a hub of the IT industry that it came to be called “Cyberabad”. 
The year also saw the foundations being laid for the Indian School of Business (ISB) which is one of Asia’s top research-drive management schools. A Hitex International Convention Centre also was established to hold international events and conferences. This, in turn, gave an impetus to the hospitality industry which saw many star hotels coming up around the city.
Even as the State began gaining prominence in the IT sector, FAPCCI appealed to the government to  simultaneously focus on increasing the irrigation potential and suggested crop diversification in order to increase the state’s annual agricultural output.
Besides the IT industry, another industry that was given immense thrust was the poultry industry. This period witnessed a spurt in the number of companies operating in this setor, eventually making AP the largest egg-producing state in the country.
During this time, other regional institutions helped the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry grow in a better way. Some of the co-benefactors were Genome Valley, Nano Technology park, Fab City and Public-sector biotechnology establishments added more reasons for the growth of the pharmaceutical industry during this period. Cooperative existence gave this industry better infrastructure. These factors attracted many multinational companies to set up research & development centres, warehouses and manufacturing units.
Besides, the promotion of telecommunication infrastructure in the post-2000 period, in particular, the laying down of optical fiber along state properties also proved to be a major advantage. Policies like the Single Window Clearance Act in 2002 gave an impetus to the industry. 
Witnessing the rapid progress of the state, industry bodies recommended immediate changes to labour laws in the state that would make more talent available in the state.
Metro Rail Project takes birth
While the industry was witnessing tremendous growth, the huge influx of population into the city began congesting the city. To ease congestion and ensure a mass-rapid transit system is in place, the government laid the foundation for Hyderabad Metro Rail in August 2003, for which the work is in progress. Once operational, this ambitious project is expected to increase the use of public transportation system in the city, pushing Hyderabad into the league of metropolitan cities with the Metro Rail System. 
As the government began proactively approaching the industry, FAPCCI contributed to the development plans in tourism, water harvesting and conservation of natural resources. During this time, the government also took suggestions industry leaders in the AP Fiscal Reforms Committee. 
In 2005, the government sought industry’s suggestions on the use of biofuels, after which the federation had submitted a research paper to the government. Following the flight of few industrial units from the state to hill states like Himachal Pradesh, Assam, etc, industry bodies highlighted the need for the state government to focus on incentives which could arrest this trend.
Hyderabad International Airport gains global prominence
In March 2008, the Hyderabad International Airport became operational and emerged as one of the largest and most sustainable airports in the country. The government’s continued focus on the sector increased the number of IT/ITes companies from 883 in 2004 to 1,206 in 2009 where AP’s share in IT exports went up from 8.6% to 15% during this period.
Over a period of time, Hyderabad has emerged as a hub of commercial activity and major revenue for the state of Andhra Pradesh, apart from being its Capital. The city is estimated to have contributed over Rs. 34,000 crore to the state’s total revenues of Rs. 70,548 crore during 2012–13. Of the 44 state-level public enterprises, the headquarters of 40 are located in Hyderabad.    
As the political climate began changing in the state following former Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy’s death and instability within the Congress party, industries reported a huge loss in production and exports as well as the state’s revenue fell sharply due to frequent bundhs. Industry bodies, at the point, played a vital role in keeping the industry-government dialogue going and highlighted their concern. It also helped in furthering the trade relations between various countries. 
Meanwhile, the State was caught in the midst of the Telangana movement’s rage, which threatened survival of several businesses due to frequent bundhs and protests as well as violence across the state with an impending bifurcation and a fractured political climate on cards.

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