Wanted: SAARC tech hub in Lanka

  • N Madhavan, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Nov 23, 2014 23:18 IST

India’s IT sector is feeling better — and has reasons to. Its mainstay US economy is recovering and last week, President Barack Obama tried to usher in a new immigration regime that eases visa regulations for both startups and established IT service companies.

But there is also a sobering thought that India’s IT sector faces new challenges. It is clear that quality skills are not easily available any more in India.

I think it is time for Indian IT players to think Sri Lanka —and possibly, the beautiful eastern port city of Trincomalee. Here’s why. President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s policies aim to make the island a knowledge hub with IT focus, and development of Tamil areas scarred by decades of an internal war are a key priority.

For India, which has evolved into not just a nation of programmers but one of seasoned IT managers and entrepreneurs, Sri Lanka could be a hub where it can attract knowledge workers from across South Asia. It is easier for Sri Lanka to offer visas to Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis without much complication.

In fact, Infosys, TCS, Wipro and Genpact already employ engineers in East Europe, Latin America, the Philippines and US. Raising regional presence is a good way to spread their wings.

India should push for a SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) technology park in the north or east of Sri Lanka and the regional summit at Kathmandu, this week, should be a good occasion to discuss it. It could be easily funded by Japanese money and also increase India’s influence in the region and contain growing Chinese presence with positive diplomacy.

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