IT Slowdown in India

I published this article on 8-May-2001 – four months before 9/11 – but it is amazing how relevant this article is to the present day! -ac

I have been quite vocal with my reservations about India’s “techno slavery” approach to IT business, and I definitely haven’t made any friends at NASSCOM that way.

Sure, the tech slowdown in the US *has* been a rude awakening for Indian IT companies, but I bet that we haven’t yet seen the worst of it.

Many IT Companies have relied purely on software export to the USA, and they are in for a miserable ride, because they have painted themselves into a corner.

Should the US market suddenly begin shutting down on them (as could very possibly be the case right now), they will be left with no alternate markets, no alternate sources of revenue, not other option but to start pink-slipping their talented workforce to reduce expenses.

If that isn’t shortsighted, tell me what is.

An analogy, if you please – much of the Indian software industry is all about leaves and branches. Sadly, you also need strong roots for a tree to survive the winds of change.

With the primary market (the USA) in doldrums, it is time for the industry to strengthen their roots in more local markets – not just India, but Asia, since Asia will without doubt be a far bigger market with more lasting challenges and opportunities than found in the US.

The current policies that the Government is dishing out make it far more attractive to work for other people than for one’s own.

I am old enough to remember an India where software companies were actively persuing local markets. I watched the Wipros and the TCSs, the Knoxwares and the SRGs, the big guys and the small ones – all chasing the holy grail of “Indian products, Indian markets, International Quality” with earnestness, determination and a lot of innovation.

I watched all these efforts disappear like puffs of smoke in a gale as the export-oriented policies began appearing.

The current policies have killed the Indian software industry.

Don’t laugh – think about it. By catering exclusively to American clients (who will never acknowledge the Indian roots of their products/services when marketing them), you are part of the American software industry – an industry that caters to a market that (despite globalisation) suffers from a chronic case of “Not Made Here Syndrome”.

Take away the carrots that make it more attractive to cater to American markets than Indian markets, or at least create a level playing field – create policies that reward catering to local markets in the same way the industry is currently rewarded for bringing in export dollars.

Understand the need for balance, and for keeping more than one iron in the fire. Don’t make the “Think Global” mantra an excuse to ignore (and erode) your local markets.

As you are about to witness (and possibly painfully experience) – there is no place like home (markets).

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