Friday, January 26, 2007

High Tech in India

I spent a week in Hyderabad, India during the week of Jan. 7. I was hosted by Vinod Palcharla
of Oracle-India, who will be leading a team of developers to integrate certain Oracle products into Sakai. I delivered a three day tool development workshop to the team to help them get a better understanding of Sakai development and it's key services.

High Tech in Hyderabad

India is an amazing country. Everywhere I saw signs of a people doing everything they can to move from an agricultural society to an information-based economy. Not just in HiTech City, but everywhere Indian people are focused on education and connecting to the global economy. Hyderabad, like Bangalore and Pune, have created conditions that allow multi-national corporations to take advantage of low cost development and skilled developers.

HiTech City rises in a once-rural part of Hyderabad. The transition from regluar city to an enclave of modern office buildings is remarkable. In particular, the architecture struck me. The buildings all have a very modern treatment. They stand in visual testimony to the participation of India in modern age. Even the first building on this site has a graceful, circular form that I think will age gracefully, artistically speaking.

Wandering around this complex is like taking a tour of global high technology. There is the IBM and Motorola buildings. Oracle has a whole campus of buildings. Arthur-Andersen over there and many with no names outside, but quite recognizable inside.

This is the other side of out-sourcing. Easy to be critical from so far away -- jobs lost to a foriegn country. How different to see the positive impact its had on Hyderabad and India as a whole. The western world (U.S. in particular) has concentrated so much wealth for so long. Personally, I like the fact that some of that prosparity is flowing to other places. Even if it makes things marginally harder at home.

Cultural Explorations (click links to see pictures)

Work didn't leave me much time to explore the local culture and history. However, Mr. Palcharla was very kind to spend some of his weekend with me showing me Golconda Castle.
This large fortification was built by three warlord families: the Kakatiyas, the Bahmanis and the Qutub Shahis around a hill. The architecture combines Muslim and Hindu inflences with many remarkable rooms, buildings, and walls. I saw the Raj's hareem (now destroyed), his sitting room with niches for dozens of candles focused through diamons, and was treated to an explanation of the wonderful accoustics used to warn guards of enemies.

Later in the week I toured Chowmahalla Palace, a stately palace of royalty, the Charminar Monument rising from a city square in Hyderabad, and the Birla Temple. The temple was a great experience for me. The temple is constructed in white marble and very beautiful. There are several shrines and I had the chance to be blessed by a holy man in one of them.

Perhaps the highlight of sight seeing in Hyderabad is the Salar Jung museum. Salar Jung was the third Salar (royal Nizam minister) who amassed a collection of art objects from India and all over the world. The museum is extensive and ecclectic, with art from Europe, Japan, China, Africa, and India. Perhaps the most remarkable piece in the collection is the Veiled Rebecca. This life-sized marble statue by the Italian sculptor Benzoni is amazing to look at. The treatment of a fragile veil over the body of young bride-to-be ranks it with the world's great scuplture.