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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Building a "Soft Region" on Hard Legacies: The Development of an Informational Society in Andhra Pradesh, India

  • Author(s): Eischen, Kyle;
  • et al.

Andhra Pradesh is quickly developing into the third site of the South Indian “Silicon Triangle”. Regional government initiatives over the last six years have propelled the region from virtual non-existence to an increasingly central node of software development in the global economy. These efforts have been propelled by revitalized regional institutions that have built on national development legacies and global trends. This raises three central issues. First, what forms do information technology (IT) development initiatives take in contrast to previous development efforts? Second, how do global and national trends structure such regional initiatives? Finally, how do IT economic initiatives impact upon and structure social and cultural interactions?

Each of these questions is at the heart of understanding information technology-focused regional initiatives that are increasingly a central, if not well understood, aspect of development efforts globally. IT industries like software have unique production processes and business structures that rely on being embedded within innovative and human resource-based environments. These unique aspects have framed the organizational and expansion patterns of the industry in quite distinct ways from previous forms of industrialization. Both positive and negative national legacies, in essence the legacies of previous forms of industrial policy, have been key resources upon which such an innovative environments have been established. These dual national legacies and the unique demands of IT production have shaped the management and building of new regional institutions and social structures. It is exactly these regional policy and institutional innovations that will be central determinate of the long-term viability of the software technology cluster.

Andhra Pradesh is an ideal case through which to understand the social and economic impacts of IT exactly because it highlights the recognition that viable IT economic strategies are inherently linked to social transformations. This is seen in the combination of three facets of the regional initiative: the replication of national resources on the regional level, the building of unique regional capacities, and the fostering and capturing of private initiatives. The key aspect of each of these initiatives is that they form an organic whole that is essential to developing the long-term viability of the software-focused strategy in Andhra Pradesh. This long-term viability, as reflected in the nature of the initiatives themselves, goes beyond the mere fostering of “information industries or economies”, but entails the reformulation of social and political relations around an “information society”. In this way, Andhra Pradesh offers insight into the social and economic framework within which new social relations are being structured within India and other regions around the world as they pursue new models of development.

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