Wednesday, January 18

Changing India

Three entrepreneur's under the same roof - Dr Prannoy Roy, Narayana Murthy and Bill Gates, and what do you expect? An insight into how they changed the facade of the world's industry.

The program title is quite a misnomer and I was left disappointed. Murthy'n'Gates would have been more befitting. And much of what was spoken is available in other texts. Questions were not tactful and inciting :(. Nevertheless, I was most amused by Mr.Murthy quote about indians (search for 'ad nauseum' in the link provided, thats how he describes indians talking). In fact this interview with murthy is more suited for the topic, and much more insightful with an indian perspective. I highly recommend reading it.

I have nothing for or against the icons of M$ and Info$y$, for both are visionaries I have a profound respect for. But I would have prefered honouring our Murthy to be the first to speak up. And more than that, the wall mounted flat screen always displaying M$ was again disheartening. So much to the pride of being an Indian. Such trivial things are only seen by pedestrian's as I.

I am not going to glorify or deify these individuals, but am gonna take the other stand. What is it that these individuals have changed in India, and what is that these people have not done that the present generation CAN.

Let me quickly delve negatives that have proliferated with M$ and Info$y$ prevalence in india. These are killer attituted's that has perclorated into the generation of the day, and most people living out oblivious to it.

The Poison Inside

In the interview, Mr.Murthy did brag (deservedly) about bringing in a lot of wealth and spread it with his employees. Do read these articles by Vatsan - IT, Effects of IT Growth for alternate perspectives on this. Above all this I am pressing on the fact that the current generation is being groomed into becomming - cheap, loyal and a deligent labour force for the industry, IT just being the spark for it.

A very common recommendation from folks in any society (and more insisted in ours) goes as follows - get Good Grades, get Education in a Premium Institution, work for a high Paying Multi-National, procure Property swiftly, get Hooked in life, get buzy with it (your contribution to the nations population), secure a Sinecure Position in an organization, and live out doing what is asked of you in your professional and personal life. An individual's capability in these respect is how he/she is gauged in society. Giving into this, most individuals priority becomes to settle in life. You decide what portion of the population is into this cycle!!!

India is promulgated by many as being host to much of the brightest minds in the world. Let us see how convincing that is. Just consider the influx of people into IT. Order of the day - competence of an individual and relevance of knowledge are being obviated. Added to this, the lucrative nature of this work pulls in people without any flair to pitch in. A little further I shall explain that much of the IT Engineers in India are not expected to think, in fact if they don't think the company finds it easy. This only gives leverage to pedestrian people and leaves the elite in stupor for having been grossly under-utilized. So stop blaming such individial amongst those leaving the country in hopes of finding a more engaging work.

Industry too has its role to this. In a race to gain market share more indian companies have arraigned themselves with an array of certifications. What companies in the west take decades to achieve, is completed withing half a decade or even less. And this invariably enables them to perform the work with some of the dumbest of the minds. Good from a commercial perspective, but what of the people working such. Never does an engineer get to actively engage more than a few months in a year. This is what is sought of the eager young minds of tomorrow, by mass of the IT industry.

Another common find is job-hopping. In hopes of finding a more engaging work people keep flocking around only to be reminded of - "A known devil is better than an unknown angel". And then finally giving in to certifications. Here again, I have not met a single individual as yet who has genuinly been certified. A question bank helps the individual skim through, and leaves him incapable of doin anything practically.

At this juncture, am just wondering as to what is the quality of the work being produced by the pupulous by virtue of bring the brain-power of the world. And do look back (if u have not already) at this article which came quite a while back - Silicon Valley / Coolie Valley of India. And I have refrained from mentioning how the IT companies harbour much of the above attitude, left as an exercise to the readers.

and the profiting outsiders ...
after so much of what is happening inside. What about the external factors fueling many of our societies follies.

I'll start with a briefing on outsourcing, on which the whole world is cashing on. For the contractor's it is a profitable business by virtue of it being service driven. And for those giving the contract, I can think of these minimal advantages.
  1. Cheap Labour = Lower Production Cycle Costs.
  2. Easy to procure resources (eve easier as Indians are so very ready to work onsite for $'s and £'s) when in need.
  3. Indian's are contractors, which means they can get these human resources to do any crap they want.
Service driven model is more prevalent in India because of our traditional inclination towards a secure life. Risks are never harboured in our culture and companies even boast of the system being capable of paying when employee do not work (benched when said brashly) *sigh*.

Moreover by offering our services mostly to the west (for obvious commercial reasons) or alien nations, we are not being self sustaining. Why don't we see Indians comming up with as many innovative ideas as other, contrary to so-called brain power? Bluntly said, our society is moulding more cowards in our ever increasing population than before.

Indian IT population is a Rook in the Redmonds Game, Period.

Not too surprisingly, M$ realized that India (and labour force countries like china and japan) is a major contributor towards its goal of becoming ubiquitous. I have observed ever since my schooling days (school as in non-college) that M$ technologies are always recommended towards a prospective future. And if I am not mistaken M$ has invested in RnD at selected premium institutes, and I don't see it as totally altruistic.

The huge IT work force that India possesses becomes one of the driving factor to prevalent and choosen technology. M$ is looking forward for more professionals specialized in their RAD tool, as eventually the tending to zero-effort in finding professional will push more of the industry towards them. I don't see M$ looking for great innovation or such from out vast pool of professionals as much as they brag about it. And shamelessly we are playing along with the giant.

Accepted that there are only two sides, M$ and MicroISV's as they are being called. But consider the competence of japaneese with their PS3 and Nintendo racing easily against the raw power of the XBOX 360 from M$. The PS3's cell technology is a generation ahead of the rest. This is what they pull out of their brain power. And in India, we provided extensive testing services for a USB interface driver on the XBOX.

How long is India gonna keep saying we are growing ... no period

What have Mr. Murthy and Mr. Gates changed in India?

Both these individuals are visionaries with their own dreams. And each one is bending and moulding their world's of influence towards it. Trying to fit in benevolence to their worlds withing such.

Gates has been driving and bending his nation and much of the world along his dreams. He is moudling the world as he sees fit and definitely has a corner for India for it capabilities. If I might add, he even explicity stated whilst answering audience questions that Indians are more of a resource pool than a talent pool. He has definitely done his part towards making IT change the face the the Indian economy. But there is more to our economy than what we see at the facade.

Murthy on the other hand has been towards building his empire in India, and he has. Without any doubts he has bestowed a good amount of wealth, prosperity and good life to his employees. Though at the outset it is good prospects, a generation of people are now laid back from innovation though not his intention. And yes the economic divide is much wider thanks to the IT boom, and proliferation of outsourcing to other industries therefrom.

I ain't going to make any judgemental statements here. You are entitled and encouraged to add your perspective and have your say.

Comming back to Changing India

Where do we go from here? There is so much that Gates or Murthy are not looking forward to in India from their business perspective. The trend of Indian industry moulding into being Services oriented is not the best we can pull out.

By providing service we are making life easier for others whilst making it just better for ourselves. There are enough of mason workers in India, and very soon china is going to pick it all in that respect (in a decade I'd say). So lets move ahead into being engineers.

India needs this generation and the next to come up with innovations which will prove to be Solutions for us and other nations. Just as our services are, we can provided solutions that are highly competetive cost-wise and put our brain-power to good use. It is time we reap what we sow, and not just a percentage of it. Needless to say a burst of entrepreneurship in the minds of our youth.

Last but not the least, bright minds leaving the country to work for someone else. It is a global society and I am not against it. Give India back for all the opportunities that it has given you, for it is you moral obligation to give back to the society that served you.


At Wednesday, January 18, 2006 12:23:00 PM, Blogger Arvind said...


I should say, one of the most balanced posts that i've ever seen from your stables :)

Having said that - (i guess you mentioned it) - much of our mentality is 'safety first' / 'cut-out-risk' and we'd rather be bossed-around rather than boss-around !!

But, it is a good start, can we turn coin around on its head ??

At Sunday, January 22, 2006 6:29:00 AM, Anonymous Amit Ranjan said...

You arguments are very thought provoking ; I had a blog post on similar lines some time back

What people like Narayan Murthy have managed to do is to turn India into a bodyshopping paradise for the global software industry. In sharp contrast to the Indian example is the example of countries like Estonia ; Estonia, incidentally was where Skype was created and I remember reading somewhere that Estonia produces just 200 computer engineers in a year !!!

On the other hand,at a macro socio-economic-cultural level, we Indians have always been good at doing others'work and copying others; Indians have never distinguished themselves as being truly innovative or creative ; think of examples from other walks of life - i.e cinema, sports, literature et al you would have to think really, really hard to come up with examples , where Indians have created something which is truly innovative and pathbreaking and has won recognition from a world audience.

In that sense, the Indian software Industry can hardly be singled out ; it is only a extension of the general trend.

At Friday, February 24, 2006 1:37:00 AM, Blogger cyberkid said...

An additional point is that many countries produce "ENGINEERS". Apparently, in india we have a different situation. Many companies(including infosys), might have a large talent pool of non engineers who graduate from pseudo engineering institutes(like NIIT,Diplomas, MCA's etc). Now, when this group is put head on with a much elite group, obviously there is going to be a complete clash of interests. No..i am not demeaning the Non Engineers, but apparently, the problem focus is completely different as you are taught in many schools to devlop products and not necessarily to engineer one. The focus starts right from the schools which do this and hence Mr. Murthy refers to it as a resource pool and not a talent pool. But, look at it this way. Are all resources talented? In the west, people just do what they like and they are happy with what they get from their work. A house is a need, a car a necessity unlike in India where a house is not just a house but a symbol of ur wealth and a Car, perhaps a symbol of ur status. We do care so much about such petty things that to get this we do anything and this is the notion of safety that you are mentioning. This is not the case with the west and who is to blame for this? Us? yes to some extent but largely to our educational system, parents, parent's parents, parent's friends and all those your parents care and who are part of your
"parental scoeity". The reason, your parents want you to have a better lifestyle compared to theirs. You graduate(with flying colors perhaps) and then join a so called MNC,make some money, get married, settle down, do all those things a married man does, have kids, and then you make ur kids do the same that was done to you.I believe in the first place, this idea should change. People should do what they think. Its ok, we make mistakes, and learn. Life is not an exam where there are objective measurements to success and failures. Its all about what we see and what we want. Thats being successful, what others call you as. Perhaps i am too much inspired by fountainhead on this, but anyways, it has atleast helped me see life better and better.

At Friday, February 24, 2006 7:45:00 AM, Blogger SamY said...

@sci: well well if I am not mistaken u r Mr.Thiruvileyaadal ;). Well I'll second u on the Fountainhead for sure. Nice to know u waste ur time as well blogging :D


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