the-south-asian.com July / August 2006
1 of 10
Telecom & Software -
Trends & Future in South Asia
First published in
Software Seeds are sown
1975 , India and Pakistan started the introduction of Computers , with IBM
Mainframes [ 360 DOS and card based data entry ] making their appearance in
Banks [ in Pakistan Habib Bank, United Bank, and Pakistan Airlines - PIA ]
and Universities [ Islamabad ]. Indian Institutes of Technology [ I IT] at
Kanpur Kharagpur , Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta installed Digital Equipment
The I IT computers and networks were to become the germinating grounds . The seeds were Indian Software engineers who later on were to go primarily to the U.S. [ Silicon Valley - California ] overseas and within India and create what is today the major Software power houses of the the U.S. and Indian Information Technology Industry.
Names of entrepreneurs such as Narayana Murthy [Infosys Technologies] , Aziz Premji [ WIPRO] , Vinod Khosla [Sun ; Kleiner Perkins & Caufield Byers] , Kanwal Rekhi [Novell] , Gururaj Deshpande [Ascend, Sycamore Networks], Atiq Raza [Nexgen, AMD, Raza Foundries] , Safi Qureshy[AST Computers] are an inspiration to an entire generation of young South Asians engineers in the Information Technology Industry. The Chinese and the Pakistanis entrepreneurs are visiting Bangalore these days to understand the business model that has resulted in India’s growth as a major Software power with annual exports at US $ 5 Billion .
1975, in Pakistan, a bureaucratic decision was taken to stop the import of
Computers as they used up valuable Foreign Exchange. At the same time, in
India, IBM pulled out of operations when the Indian Government demanded a
transfer of technology. This early withdrawal led WIPRO to start the
manufacture of PC’s with Tata taking up the servicing of the existing IBM
customer base in India .The Pakistani system and software engineers went to
the Oil booming markets in the Middle -East and the Indian engineers
continued to grow in numbers, spreading into U.S. and India.
It can be said that the lack of understanding of Software by the Indian government bureaucrats helped in the development of the software industry in India. In Pakistan, a lack of vision in education investment in general and specifically software and computer sciences was responsible for the slow growth of the software industry.
There are many stories which will be chronicled in this rise of India [and
the belated waking up of Pakistan , Sri Lanka and other south Asian
countries] as a small but increasingly important player in the world
Information technology industry. India & Ireland with $ 5 billion in
software exports each comprise 2 % of the world software market. Ireland
with a much smaller population and India with about a billion people.
Yet the stories of Indian entrepreneurs have one thing in common - super-human pioneering work by individuals struggling against the cultural bias of western countries and surmounting immense financial and bureaucratic and industry competitive challenges. Below are a few stories of the heavy weights from India and Pakistan. More stories will be be added in later issues of The South -Asian. But before we begin a few words on the Sad Saga of Telecoms in South Asia.
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