Monday, August 10, 2009

Youngistan meri Jaan

by Dr Deepak Shikarpur

Author is IT Technopreneur and leading author of IT books (13).

India is passing through some interesting times. Today’s times appear tough amidst slowdown and recession. But things are slow. Not down. This phase will go. Nothing in life is permanent and so is the recessionary phase. We have a great opportunity to be a developed nation by 2020 and our we can rule the world without forming East India Company by 2040. We need not use the military route but believe in Economic supremacy through Human talent. In that sense I look at IT as India’s Talent.

Earlier, population was looked at as a burden and a lot of things that happened around 30 years back -- like family planning and sterilization and the Emergency and so forth -- were all related to the theory that population was getting out of control and that it was actually a problem to have a large population. We never realized power of education and skilling with global outlook.
Why not look at young minds as human capital. Like Middle East has oil reserve we have Talent Reservoir. India is going to be the only young country in an aging world and that really makes a huge difference. This is "a demographic dividend" that could contribute immensely to the economy "not only because they can contribute internally to the domestic economy, but they can also contribute to the global economy as when they go and work outside or they can contribute through outsourcing as is being done in our industry. More young people means more savings, more GDP growth and more opportunities for young minds globally.
Thus, human capital has become the core and the essence of what is happening in India and is at the root of India's resurgence today. Look at IT, telecom, Biotech, healthsciences and you will understand the difference. Add to that Entrepreneurship in India is blossoming and Indian entrepreneurs are not afraid of liberalization anymore. They are very confident and globally competitive and they are not only investing abroad, they are buying companies abroad. India’s claim to the title Silicon Valley of Asia will be followed by the diversification from IT to biotechnology, medical sciences and other emerging fields of technology, widening the field of India’s international competitiveness and generating a large number of employment opportunities for the educated youth. These developments, driven by the firm commitment of the government and a quantum expansion of vocational training programmes, will ensure jobs for all by 2030.
We need to realize some basic mindset change to make use of this opportunity as due to poor vision at the top demographic dividend can become demographic disaster.
We need to liberate higher education system from traditional approach and make it dynamic and agile with changing times. If we have to reap globalization benefits then we need to teach global languages and culture to all our children from school level on a war footing. This will require massive number of teachers, but this is where technologies like eLearning, virtual classroom, IT enabled education will come to our rescue. Once we communicate global job opportunity to our youth the need to learn English, Spanish, French etc will be understood. Look at what happened in Kerala. Almost one $ earning member per family has changed the face of the state. Why not similar thrust in Maharashtra also. If we have to reduce agrial jobs then where is the alternative stream.
Another change in mindset we need is to implement is Skills based vocational education rather than degree based classroom education. Computerization of education will dramatically improve the quality of instruction and the pace of learning, so that many students will complete the first twelve years of school curriculum in as little as eight. Computerized distance education will catch on in a big way and enable tens of thousands more students to opt for affordable higher education. Rising levels of education, employment and income will help us stabilize India’s internal security and social environment. A united and prosperous India will be far less vulnerable to external security threats.
I appeal all parents reading this article to realize the changes and rework on their strategies to bring up their children. Please don’t make them studious bookworms. Make sure they are all round, versatile and have common sense.
One more area to be looked at is the importance of women in today’s times.
Amidst the dispute for the women reservation bill and the argument about safety of women employees in night shifts, there is a new breed of women who are not looking up to the government to provide them with space. They are the women in the Information Technology industry. The doors of IT are wide open for them and they are all geared up to become the major employees in almost all the IT firms. Without any reservation policy a significant number of women are employed in IT/BPO sector based on their talent and skills. By 2025, women will constitute almost half the workforce in the IT industry, which is already the case in the BPO sector. There are many reasons behind this demand for women employees. The women workforce, especially for ‘nontraditional’ jobs like IT, was, until recently, remained unexplored. It is a huge talent pool and I think all sectors have realised this. We believe that diversity is a key competence to create a culture of innovation. This diversity extends beyond gender to caste, creed and religion amongst others,”. For many jobs women stay focused. They don’t have distractions like cricket match, politics and are more stable studious than male colleagues. If their genuine family needs are taken care of, then they tend to stay in a job for more number of years than male colleagues. This factor is very important in an industry like software where job changing is very common.
In a nutshell we need to work on a war footing to reap demographic dividend and make our youth as a strategic weapon.

Monday, March 2, 2009

aSatyam wnat does it mean to all of us


Satyam debacle is 26/11 of Corporate India. People thought things like Enron, Worldcom happen only in the west and we are away from scams in corporate world of this magnitude. Some thought such large case frauds do take place only in Government sector and entrepreneurial corporate India is insulated and scams are of smaller magnitude. All these theories have been proved wrong by Mr Raju.

There are many aspects to Satyam story.

Customers :

Many of us have toiled hard to bring global outsourcing clients to India and Brand India was getting stronger day by day. Satyam debacle is a slap on India's IT image. Our Audit system, Corporate Governance, Banking system, promises made by the board, role of Independent directors is all under scanner now. It will take lot of efforts to rebuild India's IT image in the west. Induction of 3 wise men on the board is a welcome step. They will take time to rebuild But customers are bound to be cautious now. Future business contracts will have stricter due diligence, strong exit clauses, credential cheques and third party audits. Bad news always spreads faster than the good news. We all are witnessing thisn currently.

AP Government as an IT destination (Cyberabad to Satyamabad)

Andhra Pradesh was considered a rising IT/ITES destination and Mr Ramlingam Raju was like a Brand Ambassador of Cyberbad. Brand AP will definitely be hit hard and investors wishing to invest in AP will now be more cautious.

Suppliers/Service Providers

No Company of this size and magnitude can do business without many vendors, service providers and sub contractors. All of them are now worried about their business prospects and receivables. Many are dependent on Satyam and some are doing business only on word of mouth and they are not sure if they will be paid. All of them cant be absorbed elsewhere since overall mood in the corporate India is that of gloom and cost cutting.

Ordinary Shareholders

Everybody was louding Satyam and its results year after year and based on available data were quoting Satyam as a safe investment bet. many got handsome returns in the past. Many ordinary shareholders have lost huge money in the last few days. Who knows when will the stock recover ? Institutional investors have different agony.


Working with Satyam was a Dream Job once. Now the party is over. Employees on bench, freshers, those on offer are the ones who will be axed or affected. You dont need an astrologer to tell this. Repositioning at the last minute will take time. Experienced staffers having ESOP shares with Lock In are now looking at the vapour of their share dreams. Suddenly Cost to Company (CTC) package of Satyam staffers is evaporated. Pay cuts, job loss, relocations are in the offing for many staffers.

All in all everything looks like a Bollywood pot boiler. An Imaginary tale happening on celluloid is now suddenly Real. It will take time to heal the wounds.

Amidst slowdown young students and professionals must focus on skill building

In a time of economic slowdown, IT ITES students must pick up industry-specific skills during their college days, rather than expecting to be trained after they join their first job.“You need ready-to-go skills…You need to be ready to start work with just two weeks training,” Slodown is an opportunity to inject a much-needed dose of optimism about the Indian IT sector among the student population. “In the first half of this (financial) year, from April to September, IT posted 24 per cent growth. While job addition may be slow, there will still be job growth. We’re expecting 100,000 to 150,000 new jobs in the IT sector this year, IT sector had been hit by a “double whammy”: the economic slowdown and the “corporate terrorism” in the form of the Satyam fiasco. In such a situation, students had to change their expectations. “You may think that ‘why should I bother to get extra training now. The company will give me training’. But times have changed…IT industry used to give you six months’ training after fresh students joined. But the people who get jobs now will be those who have employable skills when they join,” Skills is the new global currency and not degree or experience.

Three top skills
I strongly infrastructure management, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and software engineering with domain knowledge as three of the major areas in which students should acquire skills in order to be employable in the IT industry today. “Infrastructure management is a $11 billion industry…I estimate that it can employ five lakh people over the next few years,” .With regard to ERP skills, he suggested that students use their time in college to understand business applications and the way that businesses work. Similarly, software engineering is not just about knowing programming languages, but about being able to architect a system, he said. I admit that while students from premier institutions such as Pune University were unlikely to suffer from the slowdown, those from second-line institutions would face a rougher time. The top 20 per cent of engineering graduates would remain easily employable, while the bottom 20 per cent had few chances. However, it is the 60 per cent in between, who snapped up IT jobs with mediocre skills in the good times, who would have to work hard on their skills to be able to survive the downturn.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Is Pune loosing its shine as preferred IT destination

Pune considered once as oxford, Detroit, silicon vally of India was a natural choice of any global IT investment decision. But its growth and expansion is taking its toll on the Basic competitiveness now.

Many delegations and investors are now pointing out following issues.

· Lack of connectivity (fewer Air connections and now international airport).
· High cost of land and office rentals. (sometimes foreign locations cheaper than pune)
· Frequent power cuts and lack of diesel availability to run generators
· Poor public transport and traffic indiscipline leading to long traffic hours.
· Absence of proactive Government official controlling crisis management
· Not a capital city.
· High wage structure expectation due to higher cost of living.

Now the next growth cities could be places like Kolhapur, nagpur, mangalore, ahmedabad, indore, chandigad, coimbatore, triavdnrum etc.