Internet In South Asian Development
- a weapon to
Heritage & Travel
the-south-asian.com February 2001
Page 3 of 5
by Mira Kamdar
India: A Unique Case for a New Development Paradigm
Of all the developing countries in the world, India offers a unique opportunity to launch a new development paradigm that harnesses global market dynamics. India’s economy may be growing overall at a modest rate of 7 percent but its information technology sector is booming at an explosive 50 percent rate of growth. Already a $5 billion-a-year undertaking, India’s information technology sector is expected to reach $87 billion by the end of this decade. Bangalore alone is home to 300 technology firms that employ 40,000 people. Among the largest of these companies are Infosys, which employs 6,000 people and writes and maintains sofware for companies all over the world, and Wipro, which grossed $310 million last year and has made its CEO Azim Premji’s net worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $9 billion. Bangalore’s most famous son in America may be Sabeer Bhatia, who created the Hotmail e-mail service and then sold it to Microsoft in 1997 for $400 million.
India’s prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology, which only accept about one out of every thousand applicants, turn out some of the most sought after workers in the world. IIT graduates, such as Rakesh Gangwal of U.S. Air, or Rajat Gupta of McKinsey, are among the chief executive officers of some of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations. They, and other highly skilled Indian engineers and technical graduates, are a strong presence in the executive offices of digital technology companies in the high-tech corridors of Silicon Valley, Seattle and New York’s Silicon Alley. In fact, Indians were at the helm of 385 high technology start-ups in Silicon Valley between 1995 and 1998 alone. In his book The New, New Thing, Michael Lewis goes so far as to say that the "definitive smell inside a Silicon Valley start-up was of curry."
The Indian Diaspora
The United States, the capital of the information technology revolution driving globalization and the world economy, has been granting fully half of its H1-B visas--visas for highly skilled workers--to persons from India. Now the U.S. Congress has lifted the cap on the number of H1-B visas that can be granted each year. Germany has recently announced that it will be granting 20,000 visas for foreign workers highly skilled in information technology to fill jobs it cannot fill with German workers, expecting fully half to come from India. The already prosperous Indian diaspora is likely to grow considerably in the coming years.
Many successful Indian information technology entrepreneurs are seeking investment and market opportunities in India. As India’s home-grown high-tech centers in Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Hyderabad explode, the boom is being heard in America, and not just by immigrant Indians. America’s leading information technology companies--Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and others--have opened offices and production facilities in India. Many other companies based in the United States are leveraging India’s highly skilled digital workforce to process large amounts of data that can be compressed and sent to India and returned to the United States within a matter of hours thanks to the internet.
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