By T S Sudhir
Which city will be the wikicapital of India? In the race are Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. Logic and common sense says Bangalore should be the frontrunner. If it isn’t, even President Obama will be disappointed. After all, he too has contributed immensely to Bangalore’s stature by repeatedly raising the bogey of how Buffalo should not be Bangalor-ed.
Not that the status of India’s wikicapital will bring any extra bucks to Bangalore’s kitty. Wikimedia is a non-profit charitable organisation that operates several online collaborative wiki projects including Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikimedia Commons, Wikispecies, Wikinews, Wikiversity, Wikimedia Incubator and Meta-Wiki. Its flagship project, wikipedia, ranks among the top ten most-visited websites worldwide.
Barry Newstead, chief global development officer of Wikimedia Foundation is now in India, visiting these three cities. The foundation wants to support the growth of communities of wikimedians in India in different languages and encourage more Indians to contribute to and benefit from wikimedia’s free knowledge projects.
Bangalore has a very good chance of pipping Mumbai and Delhi to the post because the city hosts wiki meets once a month. Besides this vibrant wiki network, having a huge IT pool helps.
`Mumbai and Delhi Bangalor-ed !!!’.
Trust me, as someone who has made Hyderabad his home, I can say this wouldn’t have been the scene, a decade ago. Hyderabad, or shall we say, Cyberabad wouldn’t have let Bangalore get away without a fight.
In fact, if Barry Newstead had come to India on the same mission say in 2000, he would have had to contend with an aggressive, go-getter of a chief minister, nay, CEO of Andhra Pradesh, called Chandrababu Naidu. Remember, how Naidu wrangled a 15-minute appointment with Bill Gates and the Microsoft boss was mighty impressed with a laptop-toting CM who made a powerpoint presentation. Not only did the meeting stretch to an hour but Microsoft soon opened its windows into India in Hyderabad.
Ditto with the second Bill. Naidu pulled out all stops to ensure Clinton flew into Hyderabad. The then US president is not likely to forget that visit ever. One, he shared the dais with Ramalinga Raju, who the world then still knew as the boss of everything Satya-m. In 1999, Raju hadn’t yet mastered the craft of 2 + 2 = 17. Or at least the world hadn’t got a whiff of it just yet. Two, Clinton secured a driving licence without appearing for a test. Little gimmicks that Naidu played to show off Hyderabad’s prowess with IT.
Yes, when he lost power in 2004, Naidu was the butt of jokes about how he would have won if only Gates, Clinton and Tony Blair were voters in Andhra Pradesh. Yet, the credit for projecting and converting a town into a metro city and selling it bigtime in India and abroad must go to Naidu.
Today, there is no one to market Hyderabad to get big ticket visitors or investments. Hyderabad isn’t even on Obama’s radar. Nor did it figure on Lalit Modi’s. The bureaucrats in the Andhra Pradesh government paint a rosy picture when the cameras are rolling and a diametrically opposite one, when the mikes are off.
The IT sector is grumbling. No one knows what will be status of their projects post-December 31. The FICCI chieftains popped the question to chief minister Rosaiah last week but got nothing more than an `Aal izz well’ kind of filmy assurance. Now the industry is meeting TRS supremo, K Chandrasekhar Rao on Wednesday, where it expects to know if it can remain in the pink of health if it stays on in Hyderabad.
Srinivas Murthy, one of the very well-known architects of Hyderabad, says other cities have all come out of the recession but Hyderabad is still caught in a T-junction. It doesn’t know whether it will turn Telangana or Andhra. As a result, more real estate projects are coming up in Bangalore, Chennai, Pune but not Hyderabad.
The only high-profile name that has come to Hyderabad in the midst of all this, is Facebook. A facesaver, you may say. And perhaps there is a silver lining here. Time the city did some useful social networking and found friends. Time to `like’ Hyderabad once again, folks.
You can also find T S Sudhir’s blogs at http://www.thesouthreports.com
(Please post your comment to tell us what you thought of this blog. You can also subscribe to this blogsite to receive regular updates)