IT pioneer bets on Indian market for rapid growth

Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 06:00 Hrs
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Bangalore: F. C. Kohli, pioneer of the Indian offshore services delivery model and founder of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), called upon the IT industry to focus more on the domestic market for rapid and inclusive growth.

"The Indian software industry has come of age and established itself in the global market. Even as the industry thrives on exports, the time is ripe for it to address the domestic market, whose potential has not yet been exploited fully," Kohli said at the third international Asian conference on ItechLaw.

He added, "Lack of investments, absence of pro-active policies, shortage of talented engineers and qualified faculty, and want of tailor-made IT products/solutions are coming in the way of taking the benefits of technology to the masses."

Delivering the keynote address on "the challenges of globalization", Kohli said though the knowledge sector had the potential to generate about 70 million direct and indirect jobs, the government had not done enough to create an ecosystem for developing software and hardware required to meet the needs of average citizens.

"Though the size of the Indian IT industry is about $45 billion, software revenues account for $35 billion, including $30 billion from exports. Of the $5 billion software domestic market, half of it ($2.5 billion) is imported from the likes of Microsoft, Oracle, Novell, etc.

"The reason for poor computer penetration and IT usage is due to the absence of software in all the 22 Indian languages. In contrast, China has developed most of its software in Mandarin, not for export but for its domestic market, whose size is about $35 billion. Yet we call ourselves a leader in the global IT industry," Kohli pointed out.

Exploding the myth of the digital divide, he said that in a country where 800-900 million cannot speak English and do not have access to technology for using IT in their occupation or profession, there was no point in crying hoarse over the perceived gap between the haves and have-nots, be they in urban or rural areas.

"The need of the hour is to develop software in all the Indian languages, manufacture low-cost computers, build a robust network backbone to connect all villages, towns and cities and develop content for use by every citizen at affordable costs," Kohli said.

Referring to the telecom revolution that put the rich and the commoner on the same level in communication space, he said a similar revolution was required in the IT space.

"But in a country where 150-200 million people are still illiterate, school dropout rate is very high, availability of trained teachers is acute and the industry is not getting the right manpower, the government, industry and other stakeholders have to find solutions using technology, resources and knowledge," Kohli asserted.

Source: IANS
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