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India’s Potential Silicon Valley in the “Land of the Coconut”: Kerala

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.

Technopark Campus (Image courtesy of Technopark)

Technopark Campus (Image courtesy of Technopark)

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.

6 comments on “India’s Potential Silicon Valley in the “Land of the Coconut”: Kerala

  1. psevalia
    February 25, 2015

    Steve – really interesting to hear and thanks for writing about Kerala. In the west, and for that matter, even in India, we hear much more of Bengaluru, Noida, Girgaon and Pune. So, it's good to hear about another region investing in the technology industry, and how various stakeholders are helping the region.

     

    Piyush Sevalia

    EVP, Marketing

    SiTime Corporation

  2. GeniusEE
    February 25, 2015

    Looking forward to part II, where you list some of the successes emerging from this land of milk and honey. Where wet behind the ears students conquor the world. There are none, are there? I suspect this is merely a way to hand out unemployment checks to the children of the privileged caste.

  3. Steve Taranovich
    February 25, 2015

    Thanks Piyush—I am happy to see Kerala growing. That region has it all, even great potential tourist opportunities. My wife and I went on a cruise on the Alopee River with two boat drivers and a cook and the view was spectacular—the price was incredibly low as well.

     

    The CMI order also built Amala Medical Center wihich is a fully staffed conventional and Ayurvedic hospital as well as a medical school run by the CMI order. Education, education, education!

  4. Steve Taranovich
    February 26, 2015

    People probably said that of Bangalore years ago—-Let's wait and see—I certainly will publish a Part 2, but hopefully it will be a better scenario than your forecast. Stay tuned

  5. etnapowers
    February 27, 2015

    “There certainly is a great deal of good that local engineering talent can do to improve India as a whole economically.”

     

    @Steve, it's a very interesting point: the engineers are the key professional figures that could enhance the progress of a country. It does not depend from the particular place , it applies to each country.

  6. D Feucht
    March 4, 2015

    Interesting article, Steve. Kerala state differs from the rest of India in that it has a more pronounced Christian culture. The Mar Thoma congregation of India traces its roots back to the apostle Thomas. The Malabar coast has long had a significant Christian community.

    The Bharatis (Indians) are indeed advancing technically. I have a four-cylinder diesel pickup truck made by Mahindra and give it high marks, especially since I could buy two of them (in Belize) for the price of one Toyota.

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