Two mighty streams flow through India—the spiritual and the technological. They converge at Bangalore. When Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited India last year, his first stop was not the political capital New Delhi but the IT super-hub Bangalore. In this he was following in the footsteps of his predecessor Zhu Rongji who, in his 2002 trip to India, made a point to visit the Bangalore headquarters of Infosys, one of the world’s most successful software companies. Addressing a crowd of 4,000 IT professionals, Zhu delighted those present by promoting a new era in Sino-Indian co-operation. “You are No 1 in software. We are No 3 in hardware,” he said. “If we put these together, we are the world’s No 1.” Zhu was given a standing ovation. This statement encapsulates the emergence of India as a software power in the 21st century. Today, the Americans feel, threatened with the Indian Brains taking up leading positions in their country. India is last becoming the boiling pot of all the IT and Software professionals.
India has emerged as a great reckoning; force and a dynamic nation at the dawn of this century. The year 1985 is said to be the year which is the generator of the software and IT revolution in India. In this year, India declared its IT policy under the leadership of late Rajiv Gandhi. He probably saw computer as a powerful instrument of modernising the country. Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, manufactured die first computer in India in 1966. Later on ARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre) took up the task set forth in motion by Tata institute. Later on, with the establishment of Electronic Corporation of India for commercial manufacture of computers in India was brought about a technological renaissance in India. The IT policy of 1985 stressed on the fact that Electronics and software would be the answer to die problem of unemployment in die near future with a vast variety of jobs in die two fields. Today though die problem of unemployment still stares us hi die face due to population explosion, no one can deny die role of computers and computer professionals in die development of India in die present world.
Today, software revolution is at its peak in India. Computers are spreading in the country at a break neck speed. No one can deny that computers have replaced even die television. Today computers are a common commodity in every home with small children playing games on computers or surfing die Internet. Computers have convened die world into a small cyber-village. A kind of computer consciousness is fast developing amongst the youdi of today.
Bangalore is popularly known as India’s Silicon Vally. Cyber cafes have sprung up all over the city as well as over the nation-wide. The IT Park, comprising three huge tower blocks named Innovator, Creator and Discoverer, and a second Electronics City complex represent the leading edge of India’s information technology revolution. They have helped turn the nation into a ‘software superpower’, in the words of Bill Gates of Microsoft.
Leading software companies, such as Infosys and Wipro Technologies, are among India’s wealthiest private sector concerns, overtaking traditional heavy industries. Infosys made a profit last year of $67 million. When Wipro’s shares rocketed on the Nasadq last February, the company was valued at $62 billion. Wipro’s founder, Azim Premji, suddenly found himself feted as the world’s third richest man. But Premji still lives in a modest apartment and drives a small Ford Escort.
Some 250 hi-tech companies are located at Bangalore. The IT Park, built and owned by a consortium of Singapore businesses as well as Tatas and the state government of Karnataka, was officially opened by Singapore’s visiting Prime Minister. It has already been running for two years and houses some 60 of the world’s leading Indian and international software companies.
“This is India’s Chance to lead the world,” says Dr. Udo Urbanek, Co-Director of the German-owned SAP Labs, which occupies three floors of Discoverer. SAP is the world’s leading developer of business software for enterprise resource planning with half of the Fortune 500 companies among its clients. It claims 54 per cent of India’s market share and employs 280 Indian engineers in Bangalore. The company chose India as a software development centre, says Urbanek, because Indian IT engineers ‘are the best people on Earth. People here are very focused on heir careers and self-development’. This is the reason for India’s world-beating success, he believes.
Another is the nation’s reputation for excellence in science and mathematics. The Indian Institute of Technology are world renowned, with all the engineering institutes churning out 120000 engineering graduates a year, and the nation has over 3000 computer training institutes.
India’s software whiz kids have won world-wide acclaim in rectifying the millennium computer bug. They are less prone to mistakes than their western counterparts, especially in writing long and complicated software programmes. And they take advantage of the 24 hour clock: while European and American multinationals sleep, Indian experts fix their software glitches overnight. A third of Bill Gates’ employees are of Indian origin and upto 50,000 Indian technicians make their way to Silicon Vally each year. The former Chancellor of Germany, Gerhard Schroder had appealed for upto 30000 IT engineers to come from India to bridge Germany’s skill shortage.
Indian politicians are also eager to back the IT revolution. The central government gives IT companies’ tax incentives and has slashed import duties on computer hardware and software, from motherboards to CD-ROMs. Software exports in the past were nearly $3 billion last year, and are predicted to reach $5.7 billion in the near future. Studies suggest they could eventually reach $50 billion, or a third of India’s entire exports. In the domestic market, computer sales are forecast to increase by 65 percent this year, while India’s net surfers are expected to grow from two million to some 70 million over the next three years. A number of other IT centres are fast developing such as Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Noida, Chandigarh, Pune, Delhi, Indore, Kolkata, Chennai and Trivendram.
India has successfully developed an indigenous super computer Param-1000 and with it, we have become a software superpower today. The increasing demand of Indian software engineers is a sure signal that even the world accepts India as a software super-power to reckon with in the present era.