Shutdown hits India's tech hub partially

Shutdown hits India's tech hub partially

Protest shutdown against steep petrol price hike Thursday partially affected India's tech hub with leading IT firms, including Infosys Ltd and multinationals logging out, even as normal life remained paralysed across Karnataka.

A passenger naps as he waits at an empty bus terminal during a nationwide strike against a steep hike in petrol prices, in Bangalore, India, Thursday, May 31, 2012. Last week, state-run oil firms raised petrol prices by more than 11 percent, the steepest single increase in a decade. The hike is expected to further stoke inflation. (AP Photo"We have declared holiday for our staff in Bangalore due to lack of transport facility and in Mangalore as a precautionary measure. But our Mysore campus and development centres in other states are working as usual," an Infosys spokesperson told IANS.

While other Indian IT bellwether -- Wipro Ltd is working, global tech majors such as Intel, Microsoft, Dell, HP, Accenture and IBM decided to shut for the day and work on weekend (Saturday) in lieu of Thursday.

"As the management decided against holiday, our software engineers are working in the twin campuses in Bangalore. There is no impact of shutdown on our operations," a Wipro official asserted.

Absence of state-run and private buses, mini-vans and maxi cabs also forced about 200 Indian and overseas midsize IT firms in the Software Technology Parks of India and Electronics City on the outskirts to close down for the day.

Back-office operations, including call centres and business process outsourcing (BPO) services, however, remained unaffected, as companies made alternative arrangements to ferry their employees from homes and provide them food in the offices.

"Being a 24x7 service and very essential for our global clients across geographies indifferent time zones, it is business as usual for our operations as we cannot afford to disrupt our engagement," a senior executive told IANS here.

In cities and towns across the state, the shutdown evoked a good response, especially in coastal and northern districts, as state-run and private buses, trucks and other vehicles kept off roads since morning, colleges and schools declared holiday, hotels and restaurants remained shut.

Though the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state is supporting the shutdown as part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-led opposition parties on the national front, offices of the state government functioned despite thin attendance and late-coming due to lack of public transport, taxis and autorickshaws.

Train services and flights of state-run Air India and private carriers, however, remained unaffected though the number of passengers was about 50 percent less than a normal working day.

Intra-state and inter-state bus services were suspended for the day as a precautionary measure after a dozen vehicles of the state-run Karnataka State Road Transport Corp were stoned and set on fire by miscreants in Bangalore, Mysore, Hubli, Davengere, Raichur, Gulbarga and Belgaum.

State-run Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corp also withdrew its buses across the city after six of its vehicles were damaged by mobs in central and suburban localities.

"Barring stray incidents of stone-pelting on buses and clashes over forcible closure of shops in Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore and Hubli, the shutdown remained peaceful so far as we are maintaining law and order with strict vigil and additional deployment of forces in sensitive and densely-populated areas," a police official told IANS.

People had a tough time in buying groceries and vegetables earlier in the day as supplies did not reach markets and department stores remained shut.

Supply of milk was, however, not affected as it was exempted from the shutdown. Medical shops also remained open.

In a related development, ruling party's leaders, including state unit president K.E shwarappa, Lok Sabha member from Bangalore Central P.C. Mohan, former state minister C.C. Patil and several party cadres were detained for leading a protest rally.

Hundreds of members of the Left parties - the Communist Party of India-Marxists and the Communist Party of India and students of the Left-wing student federations were also detained in different parts of the state for taking out processions against the UPA government, seeking a rollback of petrol price.

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