Preethi J.

Bangalore, Oct. 28

BANGALORE is growing more and more, and will get worse and worse, says a CEO of a company based in Mysore. If this caused you concern, maybe the heritage city could take away your blues. Not for a weekend of quietude, but as an alternative location to establish your organisation.

US-based Software Paradigms International set up an office in Mysore eight years ago. This Rs 45-crore IT and business process outsourcing services company says it was a decision taken for economic reasons. Costs spiral downward when you move away from the centre of attention. Prices of land are one-third that of the IT capital. "While the cost of land is Rs 1,000 per sq ft here, at Mysore it is only Rs 300," said Mr Sid Mookerji, CEO of Software Paradigms International, in an interview with Business Line on the sidelines of the three-day IT event

Flats in Mysore also cost only one-sixth of those at Bangalore. This will make it easier for those who migrate to the city and seek to settle down. The company has just invested in 11 acres of land and will complete the first phase, which will house 1,000, by January 2006.

The transport system is currently sufficient, and traffic is not an issue. To tackle future problems related to this, Mr Mookerji felt that planning would be essential. "At the end of the day, the Government is a facilitator. It is up to large enterprises and private entrepreneurs to guide the government," he felt. The four-lane highway between Bangalore and Mysore will be ready in three months, connecting the city to the silicon hub. The expressway and the airport will also enable connectivity to the rest of the world. The doubling of the broad gauge railway line from Bangalore to Mysore will also add to the city's advantages.

According to Mr Mookerji, technical infrastructure at Mysore has also improved considerably over the past few years. Not only is the city finally WiFi-enabled, telecom and broadband services being offered are now comparable to the more populated cities. "The network now is really good," he said.

In terms of pollution too, Mysore seems to have the winning hand. Bangalore is 14 times more polluted than Mysore. Quality of life, the one factor that helps retain employees, is also improving in the city. While entertainment-wise the city does not have much to offer, Mr Mookherji felt it's a matter of supply and demand.

The city is undiscovered in terms of IT. And, according to the company, is more suited for BPO. While Mysore, as a brand, has not been recognised by many, it is definitely growing into one. In terms of retention, Mysore has an advantage. Attrition in this city will be comparatively lesser, says Mr Mookerji, as it will involve relocation. People will not be able to just "hop around the corner" and join another company. This, however, also means that lateral hiring will be a hurdle for employers.

Mr Mookerji finally offers this advice to those seeking to move away from Bangalore, "Think about the cost, along with important factors such as connectivity, infrastructure, availability of skilled resources and quality of life." Location, location, location - the three most important factors in real estate (according to popular author Ayn Rand) - still remains uppermost on the mind of the IT entrepreneur. Here's hoping tier 2 cities are the answer.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 29, 2005)
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