Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Issue of 'India Shining': A Critical Insight

This post is the extended version of the discussion started in 'Can TCS/Wipro/Infosys Make It?'. I have tried to address some of the points raised here in the comment by dead man walkin.
The first issue is of the huge investments being made in India by software giants like IBM. However, a matter of concern to look at is what all are the domains that the investments are being made? How much of that investment is going to development of some kind of indegenously analyzed/designed product? If that investment is being made with the mere goal to employ a big Indian workforce in some service-oriented regime, it is not really anything which we can be proud of in the long run. How much liberty will the India on-site employees of IBM themselves have in development of a new product which is at par with some of the stuff being done by IBM Research in US? As a matter of fact, IBM in India is 'IBM Global Services' and not 'IBM Research' (the one for which IBM is 'IBM' today!). I am pretty skeptical about the goal of those investments!
The next issue is of the mushroom growth of MNCs in India. Agreed, this is drawing in 'dollars' for us and creating a lot of employment. But the prime motive of these MNCs crowding the south Asian countries is basically because the latter have cheap labor compared to the scene here.
Talking about value-ended R&D, yeah, companies are spawning off new departments, but the scene is still in the ice-age. If we talk about statistics and number crunching of GDP growth and all, I would like to know how many patents are filed from India every year? How many publications are made to the top conferences every year? These are areas we need to give more thought to. Good examples, US, Germany, Japan.
To sum up, the issue is not of 'India Shining'. Nor is it an issue of facts, figures and statistics. Although I am not a huge proponent of 'India Shining', I am not a rebel either. The point I had raised was the scope and extent of quality research work in India. It is unfortunate that it is very meagre still now. But it is true it is very important for a real value added technological prosperity: an issue of primary concern for 'India Shining'.
What motivated this thinking was a personal evaluation though. I am not a prodigy, but I think after an year of coming to US, things have made a lot of difference to me, for the better. I am very different from what I was an year back: I think critically, I am much more sound on my way towards an interesting next generation research. So the question arises, what actually brought in the change? And I think the obvious answer is, the scope, the opportunities and the work environment. These things need to be brought in India too. Needless to say, there is a lot of potential in all of us; a lot of potential in all of who are working in TCS/Wipro/Infosys. We need not be stuck with some work dictated and defined by others outside the nation which just increases our forex reserve. Rather we need to venture into novel endeavors and attempt to address open ended issues which can culminate into a next generation research that can, in turn, change colors of tomorrow's world. We need to cherish an instinct like that in all. And we are capable in doing that, we know. I strongly believe, only then, 'India Shining' accrues a profound meaning for the nation than just mere numbers!

1 comment:

Nikesh said...

Agreed ...
India can't just dream to be at the top with its base on the back end or outsourced work...or rather working for others. If it wants to move ahead it needs to innovate, it needs to be more on "front end".

Outsourced work may help economy move ahead but not bridge the gap between present level and the heights it wants to attain.