Bangalore: Silicon valley or Coolie valley

I received an email from one of my school friend which goes like this:

Hi ashish…..as I have told you that I really love to read your blogs,
and its quite a soothing experience for me that there is one among us
who really has the courage and ability to say whatever he thinks,
probably I can see a leader and mentor in making…..kudos!!!

Well, this mail is just to ask you read something which really compelled
me to think beyond ….., beyond my personal goals, and country as
whole..it asks us (IT guys) where are we heading to? …….I would like
you to read this….I am sending the link:
http://www.rediff.com/money/2004/mar/03guest1.htm

Also, would love to know about your future goals……and what are your
future aspirations.

Now, I can see that my friend has clearly been disturbed by this article and I don’t think he is completely unjustified in his concern. Having said that, I can only say that this is one of the most immature article I have read – the thoughts, and the use of words, didn’t impress me a bit. All that he emphasized in his article was the fact that Indian companies are predominantly services company. Right, very right! I totally agree with his assessment here – but how does that make Bangalore a ‘Coolie valley’ is something that is beyond my understanding.

Here is my answer to him:

Mr. Dasarathi,

Let me start by putting a disclaimer here that my response is based just on this article that you published – and without knowing your other credentials.

You have made a very correct observation that Indian (Bangalore, as you say specifically) IT industry is predominantly services oriented, with a very few companies that are doing purely products work. This is something that has been brought to notice by a lot of folks earlier also – and is a very well known fact. So, I was least surprised when you brought up this point. But what surprised me was your treatment of the subject. The very fact that you described a services company as the one lacking in innovation amuses me.

Innovation is a very broad term – and it’s not people like you or me who would (and should) tell people what is the ‘right’ innovation. In my perspective, both the sectors do innovate. Products companies target more on the technical aspect of it whereas a services company focus on the process innovation. And, I do think that the services company were the need of the hour in India when it started and that is what has put the Indian IT industry on the world-map.

Having said that, I am myself a huge fan of tech and product start-ups. But, at the same time, I believe in doing business for the sake of making things better for myself, for people who care about me and for the rest of the world – in that order. So, in my perspective, it just made sense for the Indian companies to do services business when they started – knowing exactly the market (which is still driven predominantly by the US) and its demands. But, yes, things are changing and we have come up to a stage where we have started to witness the Indian companies creating products. The percentage is still abysmally low but we have taken a step, a big one, in that direction. And I do see a lot of products coming out of India in the near future. TeNeT group is an excellent example of that – and I have personally seen the awesome work being done in those companies under the superior guidance of Dr. Ashok Jhunjhunwala.

The whole thing makes a lot of sense to me. Securing yourself before trying to change the world is the philosophy of a lot of people – and I don’t see anything wrong in that. If I had a time-machine, I would have liked to take you 10 year ahead in the future and shown you all kind of stuff Indian software companies (with a lot of tech start-ups) would be doing.

-Ashish

Sports and me

I have always been a sports fan – watching and playing – since childhood. It’s another thing that I haven’t gotten a chance to indulge a lot in sports activities ever since Tekriti happened but I always try to keep myself updated with the score cards and the highlights – besides longing to get time / chance to be in a sports field.

Like almost all Indians, cricket is one game that I enjoy the most. And this is something that I got partly from my dad. There used to be a time when me and my dad would both wake up early morning just to catch up a live match on the TV – one of the very few shows that we both liked. In fact, when I was at the US – we guys even created a team and used to play in a league – the scores are not worthy enough to be talked about, though. Interestingly enough, when I woke up today and was getting ready to come to the office – I just picked up and wore the T-Shirt that was my cricket team t-shirt at the US.

However, what pitched me to write this post was 2 good news yesterday (and I did catch the highlights) -
1) Cricket: India finally playing to their batting potential and comfortably chasing the New Zealand score of 278 in the allotted 50 overs match. It had been a while when India chased a big total – so that makes me happy.
2) Tennis: Sania Mirza creating history, becoming the first Indian to enter the fourth round of the US Open in New York, on Friday. This is phenomenal. I (and a lot others) have said this before also – this girl has a lot of potential. She just need to make sure that the success doesn’t go to her head – and keep doing the great work. Hats off to her! Sharapova – be aware – I think you are really pretty but I will be much happier to see Sania beating you in the next round.

Back to work!