Trailblazing communist icon KR Gouri, Kerala’s first woman minister and architect of land reforms who has died aged 102, was instrumental in setting up the country’s first information technology park. She was helped by KPP Nambiar, who was special adviser to the government, in her endeavour.
The Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram was conceived during Gouri Amma’s tenure as industries minister. She convinced the syndicate of the University of Kerala to part with 50 acres for the project. Senior journalist Thomas Jacob, writing in Manorama Online, said the minister invited members of the syndicate and other officials to her residence for tea, where Nambiar gave a talk about the role universities played in aiding industry, especially in the United States. Nambiar spoke about the longstanding links between Silicon Valley and Stanford University, and Texas Instruments and Texas University, and said Kerala could greatly benefit from an association between University of Kerala and an IT park, according to Thomas.
After acquiring 50 acres from the university, Gouri Amma got the government to acquire another 200 acres for the IT park.
On March. 31, 1991, then chief minister EK Nayanar laid the foundation stone for the Technopark, at a ceremony presided over by Gouri Amma. Nambiar was the first chairperson of the Technopark. Then prime minister PV Narasimha Rao formally dedicated the Technopark to the nation in November 1995.
Today the Technopark spans over 760 acres and is the single largest source of employment in Kerala. It hosts about 400 companies, including Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Oracle Corporation.
If not for Gouri Amma, the ‘Iron Lady’ of Kerala politics, and Nambiar, the Technopark may have never become a reality.