The state of Kerala has been switching between rule by the left parties and the Congress-led parties, every five years , almost as a ritual. While political pundits call it the 'Anti-incumbency factor', in reality we know that the people of Kerala, with a much-vaunted high literacy rate, think, talk, eat and breathe politics. This extreme political awareness influences their political mandates too.
This frequent power changes has left the state of Kerala without any significant advances in the areas of industrial development and information technology. The state is notorious for its frequent labour issues and the dreaded 'strikes'. Six decades after the British had left our shores, Kerala remains deeply mired in a work ethics that deters industrial growth.
While the states like Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat,Haryana and many other states boarded the bandwagon of Information Technology and welcomed multi-national enterprises with open arms, Kerala adopted a arrogant attitude and shut out these enterprises .
It was after the passage of precious time, that it dawned on the Kerala administration that the rising unemployment issues and the lack of industrial development could be tackled only if drastic political ideology changes were adopted .
In the year 2003, the then Congress-led Government brought out a mega-plan to build a Technology Park which would house IT-enabled Services, Media services and Biotechnology institutions in Kochi, the commercial capital of the state.
This would be carried out with total private enterprise participation with the government chipping in with land at a fair price and all other infrastructural facilities like power,water and other revenue sops. In return the private investor would offer employment to the qualified young professionals of the state, thereby alleviating the unemployment issues.
The Dubai Internet City, infrastructure builders and service providers, was duly invited to work out the project details and sign an MOU with the Government. Meanwhile the entire project almost became a non-starter with a lot of heat being brought to bear on the government with the opposition parties, envrionmentalists and other s raising a hue and cry over how the resources of the state would be looted and the green environment totally ravaged.
After a torrid time of heated arguments and a change of government, the MOU was finally signed with the Dubai Internet City. The Smart City at Kochi would be built in the 1000 acres of land near the government-owned Info Park on the outskirts of the city. With the built-up space exceeding 8.8million square ft in total with 6.2million Sq.Ft for IT industries alone, the Smart City at Kochi would become one of the largest Technology Parks in India.
With the uncertainties about the project out of the way, the DIC team visited the proposed land and expressed satisfaction. The Smart City at Kochi will be an extension of the Dubai Internet City in Dubai. A self-contained campus with residential buildings, schools and an entertainment complex, the Smart City will facilitate the functioning of information and communication technology companies. The Smart City will operate just like the DIC, which offers foreign companies 100 per cent tax-free ownership, 100 per cent repatriation of capital and profits, no currency restrictions, easy registration and licensing, stringent cyber regulations, protection of intellectual property.
When commissioned, the Smart City Project would put the State of Kerala on the IT map of the world and free the state from the self-imposed prison of outdated ideology and impractical practices.