GE played key role in Indian IT boom

By agencies   |   Thursday, 24 March 2005, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW YORK: U.S. based General Electric Co played a pivotal role in India's outsourcing boom, say Indian tech honchos.

"India today earns more than $17 billion from corporations worldwide seeking low-cost overseas talent to do everything from writing software to collecting debts to designing semiconductors," The Wall Street Journal said in a front-page article yesterday.

"GE in large measure stoked the phenomenon." GE's technology partnership with the country came in 1991 when New Delhi embarked upon an economic liberalization program.

According to Indian executives, early investments by GE gave their tech and service sectors credibility as well as cash when other companies still did not have a favorable view of the country.

"What we learned out of it (the relationship with GE) is phenomenal," Tata Consultancy Services CEO S Ramadorai was quoted as saying by the New York-based newspaper.

GE currently accounts for 15 percent of TCS' overseas revenue.

In 2000, GE opened a Jack F Welch Technology Center in Bangalore that now employs thousands of researchers working on things from refrigerators to jet engines. This year, the conglomerate plans to spend about $600 million on computer software development from Indian companies.

Indian businessmen and politicians widely credit Welch, the then head of General Electric, for creating the country's economic boom. Raman Roy, who joined GE Capital International Services from American Express' Indian outsourcing unit, later founded Spectramind, which was acquired by Wipro.

"Technology companies and outsourcing firms in India need to recognize that if it wasn't for GE, they wouldn't be here today," Roy told the Journal.

According to the newspaper, Welch had a breakfast meeting in September 1989 with key government advisers at which Sam Pitroda, then chief technology adviser to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, was present. Pitroda, on behalf of India, offered to sell software to the top GE official.

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