QuarkCity India Pvt Ltd was the first company to put Mohali on the world IT map. The chairman of Quark City, Fred Ebrahimi, spoke to The Indian Express about the company’s new projects in Punjab, skill development and his belief of empowering women to boost rural economy.
What are your plans for Mohali?
Well, I am not focusing only on Mohali. We already set up a project here and now we are going to spread our wings in other areas. For instance, we are launching a project in Rajpura. We will focus on more projects across the state. Yes, Mohali will always be special to me as it is the city where we launched our first project.
You were the first to move the headquarters of an entity as big as QuarkCity here. What made you think that Mohali would be the ideal place?
When we moved here, we came with a plan. We wanted to explore the opportunities here. There was talent pool here and we wanted to make use of that and Mohali is an ideal place due to its connectivity. It is adjoining the state capital, which gives it an edge over other cities. Also Captain Amarinder Singh, who was then the Chief Minister, wanted to develop Mohali as an IT hub. So all these factors convinced me to come to Mohali.
What has been your experience?
It is a mix of good and bad experiences. When we came here, the government was supportive. Then, for the next ten years we suffered. At one point I even regretted my move to set up our base here. But now, again, I am feeling confident.
Do you think there should be less bureaucratic interference?
Yes, the work should be hassle free. But under this government, the bureaucracy is very co-operative. There is still corruption at lower level but at top level, there is an improvement. I hope it improves further and more investors flock to Punjab as it is a good destination for investment.
What kind of support does an entrepreneur need from the government to set up a company here?
Firstly, every investor needs bureaucratic co-operation. In our case, we already have projects in the state and we are coming up with more projects. What we need is support in terms of making our business hassle free.
What do you think of local talent and manpower?
It’s great. Honestly I tell you there is great talent in this part of the country. I do not need people with a 20-year bad experience.
I need people who are fresh. We train them and make then good professionals. There are hundreds of young men who are now on top positions in other companies. They are trained by us. I also say there is shortage of talent but there is a need to identify it. There are thousands of young men who could be turned into professionals.
There is an issue of skilled workers in Punjab. Do you see it as a problem for the upcoming industry?
Yes, it is an issue. There is lack of skill development in the youth. I, however, believe that we must give them a chance first.
What should the academia do to make students more job-ready?
The academia must focus on practical aspects. Practical training is vital to make up for the shortage of skilled labour.
What about block chain and artificial intelligence? Are you planning any projects around it?
I am not interested in block chain at all. I also have a different view on artificial intelligence. I feel there is a long way to go for India in this field. For example, in USA there are less people and more vehicles. They need people to drive these vehicles and so artificial intelligence could be useful there but it is not yet needed in India. Moreover, I personally feel artificial intelligence will result in a big loss of jobs. We are not working on any project around both these areas.
What is the best thing you like about Chandigarh and Mohali?
The connectivity of these cities is very good. Their location is another factor which makes these cities good for investment purposes.
What can be done to improve the rural economy?
I think empowering women is the key. There should be self help groups so that women can work from their homes. There are lot of industries, handicrafts industry for example, which can turn the fortunes of women and this will eventually make a big positive difference in rural economy.
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