Books on the Backburner



Delivering the convocation address at the Symbiosis Centre for Information
Technology (SCIT) in Pune, I was struck by the qualitative improvement in the
young professionals now being prepared for global careers in information
technology. This batch would compare well with their peers from the IIMs and the
IITs. Some of them had already done original technology creation, a few had set
up their own companies and one graduate was already in the US building solutions
for American clients.

The Symbiosis center is unique in its approach to producing well-balanced
professionals with the right mix of business, technology and soft skills. The
emphasis is on learning and delivering solutions in addition to academics.
Through out the learning process, an attempt is made to bridge the gap between
academics and real-life business and industry requirements. There is an effort
to imbibe quality and standards right from the beginning. The SCIT Resource
Centre, a wing of SCIT, has also taken shape with an idea of developing
solutions for well-defined industry problems. So far, three major projects have
been delivered to organizations and there are others are at various stages of
development. After their first year of work under professional guidance,
students here go through the rigors of quality processes in coming up with the
final solution. The projects delivered so far are on ‘LDAP Server’, ‘Web-based
HR’, ‘Alice–a mini ERP for a Defense Unit’.

“Apart from technical training, customer orientation, communication and presentation skills are integral to learning” 

Ganesh
Natarajan

Another new generation training institution that displays the same clarity of
purpose is the Indian Institute of Information Technology in Bangalore led by
veteran Professor Sadagopan. And recently, a visit by Professor Srivathsan,
formerly with IIT Kanpur and now the director of the IIITM in Trivandrum was an
eye opener in the creative work that is being developed by academic institutions
in the new millennium.

And all this is not happening a minute too soon. Now that the clouds of
recession are being blown away by the winds of new technology spending, there is
no doubt that the $ 87 bn IT dream will not be met unless scores of institutions
like the three mentioned here emerge to fill the half million resource gap
expected to occur by the year 2008.

It’s not just software either! New institutions of excellence need to
emerge to train willing youngsters in microelectronics to develop the fledgling
hardware industry, bioinformatics to provide a new caliber of resource to the
budding biotech and bioinformatics segments and a host of other areas like
network configuration and engineering that are the real big opportunities of the
future. There is also a need for industry-academics collaboration to breathe
real life experience into the budding Bill Gates’ and Narayan Murthys’ of a
future era, which is an area that visionary directors like Sadagopan, Srivathsan
and Shaila Kagal (SCIT) are already working on with their considerable contacts
within the industry.

And it is not that excellence in one and two-year Information technology
programs need to be the exclusive preserve of the formal academic sector.
Institutes like Aptech and NIIT which pioneered the private training industry in
India and made it a role model for the rest of the world, have their own right
to a place in the sun if they show the sagacity and investment capability to set
a new course. Five years ago, the APTECH program in collaboration with the Open
University of British Columbia was only partially successful because students
could not appreciate the need for the large number of humanities courses that
were a mandatory part of the curriculum. But today, graduates of this program
have made a mark for themselves in the software industry.

A thought for the new generation of professionals who can be expected to
emerge from these institutions–The visionary Dr S B Majumdar, founder and
president of the Symbiosis group of colleges (now with deemed university status)
rightly exhorts his young students to think beyond their immediate ambitions to
adding real value–to their jobs, their industry and eventually to themselves.
A great base to build the great Indian IT industry of the future.

The author is chairman of the Maharashtra Council of the CII and deputy
chairman and managing director of Zensar Technologies

He can be reached at ganesh@dqindia.com

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