IT/ITES Offices in Hyderabad Outskirts Putting Women Employees at Risk of Assaults

Two shocking incidents on women in a span of nine months in the so called IT capital of Hyderabad – Hitech city. Back in February it was Nikhil More who luckily escaped from an assault by the auto driver, thanks to pepper spray! And recently, it was the heinous attack on the 22 year old software professional, which once again proved that the Hitech city is becoming an insecure place for women to work.

Assaults are happening mostly in outskirts and abandoned centre city’s
A closer look at some of the incidents that took place in city outskirts and abandoned centre city’s:

  • Take the case of Nikhil More, a 23 year old MNC employee who luckily escaped from the assault. She was taken to Gachibowli by the auto driver, while she was supposed to go to Ameerpet.
  • outskirts dangerousIn the recent software engineer’s case, while the victim was supposed to go to Gowlidoddi/Wipro junction, the cab driver with his friend, drove her for nearly four hours on several stretches outside the city, including the outer ring road (ORR), and assaulted her at an isolated area near Tellapur. Surprisingly, in the four hour drive, they passed through two ORR toll gates and high security IT hub zone.
  • Even the brutal Delhi incident happened in Munirka, a small neighbourhood in the south part of New Delhi.

Not just these, take a look at all the assaults that happened on women, most of them happened either in the city outskirts or in abandoned city centres.

Outskirts are sparsely populated – No public
They are far from the city centre. Though, many IT/ITES companies have set-up offices there, people just come-in to work and go out. We can see public only during peak hours. Hardly we will find pedestrians, vendors and good Samaritans. The location is often abandoned and even if a victim shouts or hits the vehicle windows hard nobody will come for rescue.

People prefer to live in gated-communities in outskirts due to security problems
With the increased number of companies in outskirts, a few construction projects have started in outskirts. However, if we look at the projects, most of them are gated-communities with 24/7 security. People feel unsecured to live in outskirts and that is the reason they prefer to live in a gated-community. This is again underscoring the fundamental risk of having offices in outskirts.

‘We can’t prevent crime in outskirts’ – They will always remain vulnerable

  • Good urban communities do not exist – The newly developed IT-hubs were once villages. People who live there are from low socio-economic backgrounds. Many of them are blue collar workers who work for daily wage. We cannot expect them to be sensible. At the same time we cannot expect good Samaritans in that locality. Good communities with urban population do not exist.
  • Public transport is not viable – Public transportation is only possible when there is a lot of volume. We can’t find that volume in outskirts so only limited services are available.
  • Public are forced to depend on private transport – Lack of public transport in outskirts is forcing employees to depend on private transport which is often risky and not always secure. All the incidents we discussed earlier also happened in private vehicles.
  • Less police security – Police stations are available based on the population density. Since the outskirts are sparsely populated, police security is less.

As we can see from the above things, there will always be structural problems in outskirts.

Vested interests of people encouraging business to set-up in outskirts
It is clear that outskirts are vulnerable. Then why IT companies are still establishing companies in outskirts. Well, they are simply falling prey for the selfish motives of people having land banks in the outskirts. Land owners with some political back-up are encouraging the development of outskirts just to multiply their investments. Poor IT companies whose headquarters are located outside Hyderabad, don’t understand the local politics in the city and are simply going by the herd-instinct.

Government regulations discourage city centre constructions
Sadly, Government too is also supporting the development of outskirts. Recently it released new building rules that say ‘no tall buildings are allowed in city centre’. They restricted the height of residential buildings to 18 metres (59 foot – 6 floors) and commercial buildings to 15 metres (50 foot – 4-5 floors).

Companies doing business at the cost of their employees
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of companies who have offices in the outskirts to provide security for their employees. They have to keep their employees in view while starting businesses because they are the biggest assets of the company.

Blindly copying the sub-urban concept of Western countries is not helpful
Lack of public transport makes it inconvenient to travel, at the same time travelling on own vehicles is not a viable option. Outskirts are vulnerable to crime – they cannot walk alone on main road in Hitech city after 8 PM. They can’t stay close to where they work because of lack of good communities. With these many things how can companies expect their employees to come and work with a peace of mind. Blindly copying the sub-urban concept of Western countries is not helpful without having effective safety mechanisms in place.

It’s time to think – Companies can’t afford putting employees safety at risk
There is nothing wrong with developing the city outskirts, but you cannot afford to do it at the cost of safety of employees. After all, ‘Safety’ is the fundamental motivation of every human being. It’s really the time for the IT/ITES companies to think twice about their business locations.

Just look at how the entire world is operating. They are focusing on city centres. Working people from all over the city will come to the centre to work, not like Hyderabad where people go to outskirts to work.

Instead of focusing on the outskirts, the IT/ITES companies should focus on setting up their offices in city centre. One of the reasons why Philippines has totally destroyed the call centre business in India is by establishing offices in city centres.

Companies can get many other advantages by staying in the city centre. Enough space is available in the centre, it becomes easy for the employees to commute and their parents will also feel secure about them.

Initially, establishing a location in the city centre may have some costs and efforts for the employer, but it is beneficial to the employees. Such companies will be able to attract and retain good employees as every IT/ITES companies knows, winning the talent war is key to success.

It’s time parents and family members insist on their near and dear ones to choose offices in the city centre over those in outskirts and help prevent any chances of trauma in their families.

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