India as next Technological Hub

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From a slow moving democratic economy to a Digital Nation in less than two decades, the first country that comes to my mind is India. There is a special term given to this, called “leapfrog development”, whether it is increase in contribution to national GDP from 1.8% to nearly 8% or providing 2.5 million direct employment opportunities, India has come a long way in technical field. India is home to some of the major IT companies like TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL and Cognizant. Anyhow the picture was not so good same years back. India’s economic reformation in 1991 and introduction of Gateway Electronic Mail Service from Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited were the turning phases that changed the way India was perceived globally in terms of Information Technology. This major transformation would not have been possible without the support provided by the government like computer policy of 1984 and policy on computer software export and software development and training in 1986, and then in 1991, Indian government placed Information Technology among its top five priorities and formed Indian National Task Force on Information Technology and Software Development. Telecommunication Policies in 1999 liberalized India’s telecommunication sector and year 2000 saw a boom in electronic transactions and e-commerce.

Year of 1968 was a big moment which India’s first software importing company, TCS started its operations and then in 1973-74 grabbed their first international export assignment which was to develop an inventory control software solution for an electric generation unit in Iran. Indian students were recognized in US universities in 1990s for their knowledge in science, math and other related field. Graduates from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) were considered equally talented as the graduates from MIT and Stanford. But despite having technically skilled manpower and cost advantages over other countries, there were many reasons that restricted India’s growth in IT sector back. The major roadblocks of this journey were the lack of trained professionals. In 1981, three young Indians took the responsibility of training in Informational technology. They would go around the blocks on a scooter and the pillion driver holding the PC to teach. From there, emerged an IT training institute which today is known as NIIT and is $150M company. Now when we look back at those times, we realize that we have come a very long way and the scenario is nowhere the same. India is respected globally and is recognized as one of the leading countries in the field of IT. US is considered as land of opportunities but India is considered as land of investments. There is not one single MNC, which you cannot see in India. Bangalore, Silicon Valley of India houses every IT company that one can think of. Having more than 5000 companies and contributing to more than 35% of software exports, it is the considered as global information technology hub. Next in line comes Hyderabad, which is famous as Cyberabad or HITEC city because of the fact that it has the first development center for Microsoft outside its headquarters in Redmond. All the giants like Google, Facebook, Polaris, Amazon, Deloitte can be found there. Third major IT hub is Chennai. Along with Bangalore and Hyderabad, all the major companies operate from Chennai as well. Verizon, eBay have their headquarters in Chennai. Apart from these three cities, major cities like Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi NCR are doing nothing less to bring in major portion for software exports. All the big companies are setting up their workstation in these cities. But the fact to notice here is, these cities had always been favorite places for investment. Past few years has seen growth opportunities in cities like Coimbatore, Trivandrum and Jaipur. Coimbatore, known as Manchester of India is a major upcoming IT hub. Trivandrum currently has India’s largest IT park and a Technocity dedicated only for IT companies. Jaipur plans to come with India’s IT SEZ to be built by Mahindra.

As India is growing, so are the investment opportunities for IT. According to current stats, India has almost 3500 engineering colleges and almost 1.5 million engineering graduates passing out every year. Out of those 1.5 million, 20-30% ends up with unemployment in first year of their graduation, which leaves a whopping 70-80% getting a job in some software company. This gives us a fairly rough idea of how well technology is advancing in India. We have been talking about how India would develop. Now the question is, why India is considered as the most preferred destination for offshoring IT and back-office functions? Well, India deals in some major areas of  IT industry like Software development and testing, maintenance and support, training and IT-enabled services like accounting and financial services, human resource services. There is not even a single field left untouched by the engineering professionals. India is an expert in providing IT services. You name any and they will have their services ready to offer. Their attitude of being upfront and face new challenges is making India a favorable place for all the major companies worldwide to come to India for IT services. Entering into the niche service lines is another way they are following to keep up to date with the world. When the entire world is going mad behind generation of unlimited data and maddening world of BigData, India lags nowhere behind and is moving along. Presence of data modelers and data analysts is bringing in more opportunities in terms of IT services. India is not only advancing in IT and software services. It has given opportunities to a lot of entrepreneurial minds and allowed them to thrive in the country. To name a few, Flipkart, Zomato, BookMyShow, Ola Cabs, Snapdeal are the big ones that took the risk to invest and in return have become the best in their respective fields. Every year, innumerable entrepreneurs come with market-disruptive ideas. Though there is a lot of risk, investment and struggle, people are still coming out their comfort zones and ready to risk their entire professional life to give it a shot.

Where India is most favorable place for IT investment, there are other countries in this rat race too. Singapore and Australia are making a lot of effort to bring in business. These two are one of the favorites for US and UK companies. A lot of people are moving out of India to go to these countries and work there. The question arises, if things sound so positive for India, why people have to move out and work outside India. Though there are opportunities, professionals’ efforts are not well recognized in the industry. Over-time work, less pay, mental stress, work-life imbalance are some of the reasons that is making people leave the country and go out and work there. Because of these reasons, India is losing a major chunk of good software engineers. Engineers who believe that they are worth more than they are recognized for, they end up coming to US and prefer to offer their services here. Only if there was a way in which they could retain the engineers, India will earn lot more than they are earning now and they will be able to get more services.

There is lot of scope that can be seen. India’s Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi is making every possible effort to bring in more IT business in the country. His recent visit to Silicon Valley, meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg proved to be a major success. Google committed to provide broadband connectivity on 500 railway stations in IndiaMicrosoft agreed to provide broadband connectivity to five lakh villages in India and make India its cloud hub through Indian data centres. Qualcomm announced an investment of $150 million in Indian startups. Things look very promising for the future of India and we can only hope that few years down the line, picture will only get better.