Wishes, Wishes, Wishes

Can abortions lead to a drop in crime rate? If
your first reaction is ‘balderdash’, I won’t blame you. I had a similar
feeling when I read the contents of Steven Levitt’s Freakonomics. The fact is,
as the author has proved, abortions did have a high degree of correlation to
bringing down the crime rate in the US. Only that it took about 20 odd years for
the effect to gain momentum.

Well, if you’re wondering why an IT
editor is talking about abortions and crime rate and/or what are the IT linkages
between the two-and are about to say ‘balderdash’ the second time, or are
getting ready to either skip this page or write a strong mail to me, I will not
blame you, again.

For one, I will not even try to figure
out the IT linkages between abortions and crime rate. I leave that to the likes
of Mr Levitt & Co.

The point here is we have to understand
that one step taken today can have a dramatic impact in the future.

The Indian IT industry is at a threshold
from where it is ready to take off to the next level and this is the time when
the IT industry, government and associations have to look at current issues
which might have a very dramatic impact on what we proudly call-The sunrise

The King sized egos of
some IAS officers must be subdued, who refuse to replicate successful
models and waste pricious resources, time and energy

Some of the issues that I think need
immediate attention are as follows:

Quality Manpower: So we are an
English-speaking nation, so to speak. And that has been one of our competitive
edges over, say, China. True this edge gave us a start but, given the quality of
both engineering grads and non-engineering grads, I am not sure how long we can
retain the advantage. While everyone from Nasscom, IT companies, and the
government acknowledges the issue, I am not sure what key steps are being taken.
Again, this is not an issue restricted only to the IT industry but pervades
across board. The demand—supply imbalance will only grow and very soon, in the
near future, I think jobs will start heading out of India for the same reason
that it moved out of the US-availability of quality manpower and cheaper jobs.

Infrastructure: Another sore point of the
IT industry. Bangalore and Mumbai are choked and others like Gurgaon, Pune and
Chennai are following suit. The flooding of Mumbai is still fresh in our memory;
Chennai and Bangalore were in a similar situation later on. I think the IT and
non-IT industry and government should get together and try to sort out these
issues. We should start demanding SLAs for government for basic amenities. Here,
given that the IT industry and its associations carry a bigger brand compared to
other sectors, maybe they could make a start. 

e-Governance: It was over six years ago
that I started hearing about e-Governance and pilot projects. Strangely, I still
keep hearing them. Wonder when this will actually take off and who is going to
drive it. I think that this one step will ensure that a whole host of related
issues like creation of local content, increased penetration of computers in
rural areas, and infrastructure projects will start happening as people start
demanding information about project status (through the RTI Act). But, of
course, before we move to that stage, we will have to handle the king sized egos
of some IAS officers who refuse to replicate successful models and believe in
reinventing the wheel again and again, wasting precious resources, time and

Manufacturing: Some say we have missed
the bus, while others continue to be more optimistic about manufacturing in
India.  Some say this process has
already started with telecom manufacturing. However, for hardware manufacturing,
it does seem to be like a chicken and egg story. Demand is happening but not as
rapidly as one would like. Maybe cheaper financing options, better content,
broadband availability, and of course, the ever dropping PC prices will set off
a chain reaction this year to ensure that we cross the five million per year
shipment barrier in 2006.

I just hope that all the parties involved
can work together to ensure that steps are taken today which will have a long
term positive effect on the industry, else we would have someone else like Mr
Levitt asking some other freak question like:  ‘What has a Chinese boy studying English got to do with the Indian IT

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