The global media started writing about India positively only in the past eight years, largely due to the spectacular progress of the Indian IT industry T2K came as a bolt form the blue and a blessing in disguise.
Terms like IT superpower and your job is Bangalore and tom Friedman’s book “The world is flat” that went on to become not a mere new York times best-seller, but the best amount many bestsellers in year 2005 brought Indian into the center stage of global IT. The three software services majors-Infests.
TCS and Wipro together-have annual revenues of more than $ 10 billion dollars: each of them employs nearly 100,000 employees by the end of year 2008. The number of IT/ITES professionals employed in Bangalore is just short of the combined employment of the entire state of Karnataka. Though, the global recognition is new to India.
IT has deep roots in India going all the way back to the discovery of zero! Even in the recent past a number of developments have taken place mostly away from the media glare, some of them include-investment in education, nurturing excellence in key educational institutions, emphasis on R & D, imaginative policy planning and political will to support and sustain IT across all areas. They all helped Indian IT to grow to its current formidable position.
The role of the government can be seen in various measures. Home Bhabha committee realized the need for focus in electronic and computer on June 26, 1970, the DOC (Department of Electronics) came into being as a scientific ministry directly under the prime minister with proof MGK Menno as secretary to the department and chairman of the Electronics commission.
The setting up of IITs and IIMs in 50s and 60s and the encouragement to the private sector to start technical colleges (starting from Karnataka) helped the growth of technical manpower. Public sector ECIL (Electronic Corporation of India) manufactured 12 bit (TDC 12) and 16-bit (TDC 16) computers in late 70s and early 80s. With IBM shutting down operations in 1977, another public sector company CMC was set up to “maintain” computers (CMC has 923 computers comprising 60 models made by 34 manufactures one time! Recognizing the importance of software exports, SEEPZ (Santa-Cruz Electronics export processing Zone) was set up in Mumbai in 1973.
The “Mini computer policy” of 1978” opened up” computers manufacture to private sector. Many state governments created sate electronic corporations for example KEONICS in Karnataka KELTRON in kraal and UPTRON in Uttar Pradesh. The national informatics center (NIC) was set up in 1977 which played a major role in the later decades to become “decisive support system for the government” (both the central and state governments).
The “New computer policy” of November 19, 1984 announced by Dr. N Seshagiri with in 20 days of Rajiv Gandhi becoming the prime minister and the software policy of 1986 \kick-started the Indian IT story NICNET in 1982 brought Interest to Government offices. ERNET in 1986 brought internet to educational and research institutes in INI.
Project IMPRESS (computerization of Railways ticketing) stated in 1986 as a pilot in Secunderabad ushered in the first application targeted at “aam admi” (common man). The rangarajan committee on bank computerization in 1984 set in force a movement that started to shake up government departments to improve delivery of customer service.
Communications infrastructure improved with the setting up STPI (software technology parks on India) hubs in bang lore and other cities in 1991. The STPI policy removed the inspector Raj from software companies; the Indian software companies profitable.
The nineties also saw a direct “push” from the government through number of policy measures, some of them include-IT Task force led by prime Minister in 1999 (and several chief ministers at the state level), IT Ministry at the centre ( following by most states) IT fairs (like IT.com and now IT .in), IT parks (starting with cyber city in Hyderabad and ITPL in bang lore), launch of public internet access through VSNL in August 15, 1995, launch of mobile telephony on august 23, 1995.
All these measures brought the right focus to IT industry. Chief Vigilance commissioner N Vita’s directive in 1997 on full computerization of banks by March 31, 2005, led to what is perhaps the larges IT project in the country both by way of investments and impact.
In the current decade, India became the twelfth nation in the world to an IT Act in year 2000 to address to growing E-Commerce and E-business and the attendant cyber security, e-Governance initiatives like e-Saba (single point delivery of citizen services.
In 2002 and Boom (land records in 2003 started the wave of g-governance projects, mammoth NEGP (National E-Government project) and the setting up of NISG (National institute of smart governance) in Hyderabad recently. Nearly 500,000 EVM (Electronic voting machines manufactured by public sector corporations ECIL Electronics corporation in India Ltd) and BEL (Bharat Electronics Ltd.) serving 600 million voters in 2009 general elections saw the largest development of IT to serve the world’s largest democracy.
The recent award-winning MCA 21 (Department of company Affairs) is truly ambitious both in scope (650,000 registered corporations filling quarterly financial statements online) and style (Rs 80+ crores project implemented in public private-partnership mode- VSNL got privatized (it is part of TCS today), BSNL and MTNL got corporative leading to a far better customer service for telecom users.
Role of academic institutions is also evident. IIT Kanpur got and IBM 1620 what back in 1963 and TIRF brought a CDS 3600 in 1965. Prof. R Marashimha was heading the committee that recommended the setting up of department of electronics; he was the founder-head of both NCST and CMC.
TIFR were very much involved with the growth of IT in India; along with ECIL, India saw the development of TDC-12 and TDC-16 computers in seventies, which was followed up by the manufacture of CDC machines in India. In the seventies IIT’s started computer science departments.
Way back in 70’s generations of students have three FSTTCS (Foundation of software technology and theoretical computer science) conference series that was started in 1981 in the longest running conference from India today; the “Malhotra-kumar-maheshwari algorithm” (1978) in one of the notable contributions to computer science from India. C-DAC (center for the development of advanced computing) was set up in 1988 to usher in super computing; its PARAM and later PARAM PADM series made debut into the “super 500” list for the first time from India.
Over the years C-DAC contributed to the development of computing in Indian languages, starting from GIST (Generalized Indian Script Terminal) standard and tools such as LEAP.
Special programs lime MCA (Master of Computer Application) that was planned at IIT’s and launched in various universities in 80’s helped the growing Indian software industry immensely. Other initiatives in manpower development include the highly successful program from NCST in Bombay (and later Bangalore) and the accelerated manpower development on electronic and computing through DOEACC and DRDO.
In the nineties academic-turned entrepreneur professor Vijay Chandra and his team designed imputer, which became the new York times “Technologies of the year “in 2001, The recent “Primarily Algorithm” (2005) from manindra agarwal and from the Indian research community. With the spectacular growth in Indian IT industry there was phenomenal growth in quantity of undergraduate computer science (and related programs); more than (200.000) undergraduate engineers in computing and related disciplines are coming out of Indian universities today, though there is considerable room for improvement in quality.
Starting in late nineties, any of the regional engineering colleges (REC) were upgraded to national institutes of technology (NIT) with more funding from the central government and autonomy. A string of IIT’s (Allahabad, Bangalore Galion and Hyderabad) started functioning from late nineties.
In the current decade the contribution IT from IIT alumni contributing to the global academic/research community and IT industry is well-recognized today. The contribution of IIT’s NITs and IITs is so important that one can state that IT is a subset of IIT, NIT, & IIIT! In turn it has helped in building the India brand and promoted entrepreneurship through organizations like TIE (The Entrepreneurs Club); it has also helped in alumina contributions back into IITs.
The industry-academia interaction has increased dramatically in the past seven years, thanks to the maturity of the Indian IT firms and the arrival of the MNC firms such as AB, Google, HP, Honeywell, IBM, Intel, Michrosoft, Motorola, oracle, Philips, SAP, Siemens and Yahoo (more particularly, their R & D units).
In the sixties TIFR group headed by professor R Marashimha (who passed away on September 3, 2007) built the first general purpose computer TIFRAC way back in 1960. ECIL (Electronics Corporation of India Ltd) was formed in 1967 to address the growing needs of electronics (including computers); ECIL manufactured TDC-12 and TDC-16 range of computers in seventies.
In the seventies and eighties many pioneering companies were born in the private sector; this includes DCM, HCL, ORG, NELCO, PCL Wiper and Zenith that built minicomputers and later PCs. There was peripherals manufactures too-Godrej (printers), L & T (printers), LIPI (printer), Wiper (printer terminals) TVS Instruments (Terminals). Much before the word “outstanding” was in vogue Tendon was making disk drives for IBM PCs in Mumbai; later PCL was making mother boards for Dell ( These pioneering experiments of the 80’s withered away in 90’s). Moser-Baer, the global leader in optical media emerging from India is a recent positive development in the manufacturing front.
Many software companies took birth in 80s like-Infosys, mestem patni, satyam, softek, Tata info tech and wiper. Another interesting trend was the setting up of offshore development centers (ODC) by multi-national corporations, starting with Texas instruments in 1986. There were other companies like cognizant and CBSI (now convinces that is part of CSC today) that had practically all development work happening in India, through they were headquartered outside India.
The 90’s saw spectacular success of the Indian software industry. The “opening up” of economy in 1991 led to e-Companies like Infosys aggressively growing to become a global company with employee stock option, quarterly results on time every time, GAAP accounting and the global delivery model that is today studied in Harvard Business school.
Infosys has its IPO in 1993 and listed in NASDAQ (the first Indian company) in 1999. There were interesting products too-Installing from Wiper, compilers from softek, Tally accounting software from Tally systems and marshal from Armco that had global customers; the core banking software products Flex cube from iFlex solutions has today become the market leader in the global market.
The formation of NASCOM in 1988 (that sprang into action from 1990) gave a fillip to the nascent software industry. Dewing Mehta during his short and eventful period as the president of NASSCOM give the organization a formidable image and clout. Koran karmic the current president who took over in 2001 (after the tragic death of dewing Mehta), put it on a high pedestal with solid events studies like NASSCOM-McKinsey study and an excellent support from the government ISPAI (ISP Association of India) started in 1994 to address the needs of ISP’s (Internet service providers). The recently formed ISA (Indian Semiconductor Association) address the needs of the emerging semiconductor industry.
Research output from Indian academic institutions R & D establishments in coming of age. Globally relevant and significant output is coming out of India based research wings of global companies like HP. Microsoft and Google. TCS will be touching 100,000 size and $5 billion annual revenue soon. Wiper and Infosys are not far from this position. With IBM announcing $6 billion investment over three years. Microsoft, Cisco and EMC announcing $ 2 billion investment, the Indian IT industry in grabbing global headlines too. Azi premiji of Wipro, N R Narayana murthy of Infosys and S Ramadorai of TCS are in the global list of leaders. Indian companies are acquiring global companies.