Nine months after forming the government for a second term, the Telangana cabinet was expanded with Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao inducting six ministers. The most prominent of them was the induction of KCR’s nephew T Harish Rao and KCR’s son KT Rama Rao popularly known as KTR.
KTR was made the Minister of IT and Municipal Administration and Urban Development, both portfolios he held in the previous term as well.
As the IT minister of the state, KTR is credited with bringing massive investments to the state, apart from growing the startup ecosystem of the state. He also is responsible for various global companies setting up shop in Hyderabad, including the likes of Amazon and Uber. His brainchild T-Hub, a startup ecosystem, has been globally recognised over the past 4 years and led to giving Hyderabad a place in the global startup map.
Not surprisingly then, the IT and startup industry in the state has cheered the return of KTR.
BVR Mohan Reddy, chairman of global IT company Cyient said that the industry feels elated about KTR coming back as the IT minister. “He did some extraordinary work for the industry last term, including the starting of T-Hub, which has seen great growth. He also did a great job in convincing multinationals to come to Hyderabad,” he adds.
“Some of the best comebacks are backed by the greatest backers. What better second innings than coming back, voted for, by the masses, backed by the youth and an opportunity to serve the populace. Having worked and built T- Hub, I wish KTR not just the best, but look forward to setting bigger examples in stature for India,” Jay Krishnan, a private investor and former CEO of T-Hub said.
Suresh Reddy, Chairman and CEO of Brightcom Group, and the President of TiE Hyderabad chapter also shares the same view. “KTR created a distinct place for Hyderabad and Telangana amongst the IT and tech sector destinations in India. Be it putting together a concept of startup incubator T-Hub or attracting several industrial, and IT projects to the state of Telangana, KTR left a unique signature as an IT minister in Telangana,” he said.
While the entire industry has welcomed KTR’s return and expressed confidence in him, they highlighted areas that KTR would need to focus on and areas of improvement as he resumes office for a second term.
Suresh Reddy says that there is quite some work to be done in fulfilling commitments to the industries that have just started to set up shop in Telangana.
Echoing this thoughts, D Raju, Chairman of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Telangana says that the Hyderabad-Warangal corridor, which was announced in 2017 needs to be created.
He adds that the government should focus on the cost of doing business in the state along with decentralisation of infrastructure hub.
Ramesh Loganathan, Professor of Practice (co-innovations) at IIIT-Hyderabad, who was also the interim Chief Innovation Officer for Telangana before RedBus founder Phanindra Sama took over says that city infrastructure, especially in the IT cluster, needs immediate attention. “As both the IT and MA&UD minister, immediate focus needs to be placed on improving city infrastructure. Many companies choose Hyderabad over other cities because our infrastructure has been better and we shouldn’t lose that edge,” he says.
Suresh Reddy too, agrees. There is quite some work to be done in resolving the traffic situation and road conditions in Hyderabad, he says.
Suman Reddy, MD of Pega India says that as Hyderabad is on a rapid growth path, essential social and civil infrastructure needs to support growth, especially in the west and east regions. “Hyderabad’s stature as a city with strong infrastructure could soon be put to the test. We request support that is proportionate to the rapid business investment and growth happening in pockets across the city,” he adds.
Startups and skilling
Cyient’s Mohan Reddy outlined three major suggestions that could be the minister’s priority. Firstly, the second phase of T-Hub, currently under construction, needs more acceleration. “Along with that, we need to create a fund for investments in the state,” he added.
His second suggestion is that the government needs to focus more on making sure talent in the IT and tech industry is much more skilled than what we are today. “The biggest asset of the software industry, which has morphed into tech industry is highly skilled technical talent. Over 5 lakh engineers graduate every year. Unless you can monetise that talent, we will have challenges. The government needs to focus on making sure education quality improves,” he says.
This, he says can be done by upgrading the infrastructure in existing institutions in the state in terms of faculty, course curriculum and teaching methods.
His third suggestion is that the government needs to create more market access for tech startups by using the technology in various government departments in a much bigger way.
“The government must give access to new startups since they are the future job creators in India,” he adds.
Pega's Suman says that as markets evolve quickly, IT and IT-related policies could be updated every 2-3 years to differentiate our policy framework as agile. From a startup point of view, he suggests that diversification of policies to make the state favourable for new sectors to the state and expand opportunities for a stronger deep tech ecosystem to thrive
R&D and manufacturing
Another suggestion put forth by Ramesh Loganathan is enterprising the Research & Development (R&D) prowess of the city in a much bigger manner and attracting more companies.
“We do have some major names coming in. But we need to look beyond IT and also look at related areas, such as Life sciences. These are all interconnected at some point. Hence, an extended innovation ecosystem and an extended R&D ecosystem is something we need to go big on,” he adds.
Apart from R&D, CII’s Raju also feels that there is a need to strengthen the manufacturing base of Telangana with a focus on automotive and EV process manufacturing.
On the first day after resuming office, KTR tweeted that he had a discussion with Arvind Kumar, Principal Secretary Urban, Telangana and heads of departments; GHMC commissioner, HMWSSB MD, CDMA, DTCP & ENC public health on priorities of the Department. Sanitation, urban planning and improving infrastructure are key agenda, he said.
Had a discussion on priorities of the Department with principal secretary MA&UD @arvindkumar_ias and heads of departments; GHMC commissioner, HMWSSB MD, CDMA, DTCP & ENC public health— KTR (@KTRTRS) September 9, 2019
Sanitation, urban planning and improving infrastructure are key agenda pic.twitter.com/eY6mt1VJfh