First, a little background regarding my personal experience in Kerala, India in which I believe I had experienced that which has had a major influence on this potential “Silicon Valley” in the state of Kerala. A number of years ago, my wife and I traveled to Southern India to visit with a priest friend of ours and to attend the ordination of a number of Catholic seminarians in the India state of Kerala. We stayed for 17 days and witnessed a very unique portion of India that was absent of beggars, religious turmoil, and extreme poverty seen in other cities like Calcutta, amidst a backdrop of beautiful mountains, riverways and ocean beaches. The Hindus, Moslems and Christians got along so unbelievably well there and even attended each other’s discussions and talks coordinated by the CMI (Carmelites of Mary Immaculate) order, a Syro-Malabar Catholic order under the Catholic Pope in Rome. Their founder, Fr. Kuriakose Chavara, now a saint, had greatly promoted education in this region. I believe that this was a major impetus to the present strong state of the universities there.
While there we toured much of Kerala and visited schools and universities built by the CMI order, even a technical school, Santigiri College, for physically and mentally challenged young men and women! This mindset begun by the CMI begun in the late 19th century has, in my opinion, been a model to foster growth of education in the Kerala state like no other of the 29 states and 7 union territories in India.
There were also farms with coconut trees, pineapple fields, herb gardens and a high level of educated young people. Farmers would plant mahogany and rubber trees, unique to the local climate, when a child was born and when the child was ready for college, these trees were harvested by companies for enough money to help pay for their university education.
I have just read an IEEE article that mentioned 150 engineering schools in the state of Kerala with graduates leaving India for the allure of companies elsewhere in the world. The state of Kerala wants to keep these engineers right there in this region where they have graduated and is trying to create a “Silicon Valley” in India.
The local Kerala IEEE section is trying to help make this happen by working with local universities to promote an entrepreneurial spirit in its students and local professionals in incubation hubs funded by the state.
I had heard about a Technopark when I was there years ago, but never gave it a second thought. Now it is India’s largest technology park. The IEEE Kerala Section works with IEEE student branches to encourage innovation and keep a steady flow of engineers trying to launch new businesses helped by the Kerala government. Innovation efforts by engineering graduates has been lacking and the IEEE is doing its part to rectify that situation. An example is the IEEE Consultants Network that connects client needs with technical expertise in the region.
There certainly is a great deal of good that local engineering talent can do to improve India as a whole economically. With a billion people in India, there are so many difficulties to provide adequate medicine and care and create a strong middle class there to raise India to one of the top technological giants and sound economical areas in the world.
Let’s watch this region as it grows in importance in the coming explosion of growing electronics content in the home, car and on and in the human body.