India software industry cautions on competition

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Thu Feb 15 17:34:43 MST 2001


Thursday
8 February 2001

Software industry cautions on competition
MUMBAI: India's software industry, whose exports are growing by more than 50
per cent a year, needs to improve the education of technical workers to
prepare for growing competition from China and Russia, industry executives
said on Wednesday.
Phiroz Vandrevala, chairman of the National Association of Software and
Service Companies, said India's cost-effective engineers could face
challenges from China and Russia as skilled workers in these countries
improve English- language skills, a key advantage that India currently
enjoys.
"It is important that we keep our momentum and continue to enjoy the support
we have," he said at the annual Nasscom 2001 conference. India, Israel and
Ireland have been among leading players outside Western Europe and the
United States in building on the advantages of skilled workers.
Other nations, including the Philippines, Russia and China, are among their
competitors. India's software exports are expected to reach $9.5 billion in
2001-02 (April-March) from an estimated $6.4 billion in the current
financial year. Nasscom has set a target of $50 billion of exports by 2008.
The country's annual demand for information technology workers, meanwhile,
is expected to zoom to 340,000 by 2007 from 90,000 this year, according to
Nasscom.
Social concerns weigh heavily on India as it positions itself for
internet-driven growth founded on the basis of strong higher education over
decades.
Arun Netravalli, the Indian-born president of Bell Laboratories, the
research arm of telecoms equipment maker Lucent Technologies said in his
keynote address at the conference that there were about 1,000 chief
executives of Indian origin in the United States.
He said 30 per cent of all internet software in the world was being written
by Indians.
Industry experts say this contrasts with the fact that more than 35 per cent
of India's one-billion-strong population still cannot read and write, and
Internet connections are estimated at just over two million.
Engineering education is largely under government control, and a handful of
private education companies are fast turning out workers. But quality is a
key concern.
"I think it is time we realized that education cannot be someone else's
baby," Vandrevala said, calling for industry initiatives.
Indian firms were once accused of body-shopping engineers or running sweat
shops, but have increasingly switched to organised management methods to
streamline, woo and retain their valuable workers.
Vandrevala said Nasscom planned to set up an ethics committee to help
standardise practices on working conditions and ethics as small firms grow
in size and number.
There is concern among political leaders over the Digital Divide because the
rise of high-technology jobs will coincide with the decline or loss of old
jobs.
Information technology minister Pramod Mahajan said older workers needed to
be retrained to adapt to new technologies. (Reuters)
For reprint rights:Times Syndication Service









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