Wordsmith History : An ultra-brief history of Indian IT (Information Technology) industry (1980-2020)

[ I am not sure whether anyone has written any history (not a thesis for degree ) of Indian IT industry. I will be interested to read one  and thanks for connecting to any such source ]

The brief history of Indian IT industry will be described with focus on the people who were visionaries / friction giver / driver / beneficiaries /victims of this industry. It will be chronologically told with “people centric” focus rather than “information” or “technology” or both. There are reasons of this approach as will be clear to the readers.

The Founding Fathers : Somewhere in the early eighties, computer was a novelty and very few had any idea about its potential in the world. Within ten years, Indian Government will encounter a crisis and economic liberalization will follow. One of the sectors that will be coming under its influence was Indian Telecom industry. Computer and Telecom in public consciousness were separate : computer (occult mystery machines with TV screen and keyboard and rapid numbers and characters scrolling in the TV screen as if like magic) and telecom (waiting period of 3 years for a landline telephone- P&T). The Founding Fathers are mostly forgotten as it happens in all revolutions. Government’s role : zero at that stage.

The Fortune Hunters : The first group of young men and women – mostly from South India with map of Indian cities in printed paper, reverse journey of Columbus, in search of American gold. These fortune hunters can also be compared to the first wave of British traders and writers who came in India along with Robert Clive. These men and women lived and worked under adverse conditions, were considered curiosity then and worked very very hard, i.e. long hours. Some of these fortune hunters really made fortune but most did not. Indian media should tell this story of intrepid Indians who simply created an industry out of thin air in an alien land and except courage and commitment they had little support in the form of anything in an alien land. Government’s role : active, tax holidays, discovery of dollar economy, inkling of tax revenue promise.

The Bandobasti Gang : Middle phase and pre-decline phase.  The fortune hunters rested on their achievements – mostly in the form of living in their client’s country and looking at their achievements in the sunset years. Some invested in real estate, some harboured political ambitions but all of these were the activities of placid middle aged men. No product – only perishable services in bulk. Government role : hyper active, emergence of Information Technology bureaucracy (!) – ministers and ministries – buffalo grazing grounds in Gurgaon (“poor man’s Dubai” – naming mine) becoming IT parks ! What age, what change ! CD/DVD is no longer considered as a shiny papadam in Burrabazar, Calcutta!

The Bot-hammered Generation : The sins of bandobast became ripe – dramatic commentary of the hammer of time and sins accumulated – no product, only labour accumulation, bots driving the nail into “hook and spread”, the “camping of a jumboree of developers-mangers-supervisors” in client site for a decade. This underlying “karmic reaction” is made immortal by the drama that erupted in Infosys, captured in technicolor. Government role : waiting and watching, non-intervention but count the tax revenue.

“Wiser” sons and daughters generation : The sons and daughters  of first two classes (fortune hunter and bandobasti) have overlapped with bot hammered and this is a wiser generation. IT sector work enters, into public awareness, of being a white collar work with no halo. Glamour gone, bots and AI ants scratching like devil at the arbitrage’s backside, in British Indian empires equivalent, the empire does not need fortune hunters like Clive anymore but sophisticated members from Ox-Cam network at the helm. Government’s role : Ministers and ministries expanded, more IT parks and so on but it is another sector – to be taxed.

End-note

1. It is a monumental evidence of “incredible India” that Indian film industry has not made any film of significance on the true heroes of this sector. The industry appears to find good selling while Indian man and woman dance and sing in locales of Eastern Europe in immaculate dress  but why it could not find it selling of the stories of the founding fathers and fortune hunters in the distant land. It would have been an incredible story ! I am devastated !

2. Thought experiment : close your eyes. Think of a small piece of tool that you use in your work. Hint : filezilla. 40 years of history, billions of dollars, so much intellectual power, software gurus, techno gurus, 1 billion people. Can you remember a single such a tool made by an software company exclusively Indian ?  Do not try to lecture me on “teamwork”, “multiple teams working”, “Indians working behind major products”, “Indian CEOs heading top companies like beauty queens thirty years back”. No Sir and Madam. I am asking, if you allow me, “Where is the Indian Linus Torvalds?” I cannot find. In other words, I am asking : where are we making seminal contribution in the form of a product in this sector ? If you disagree, I think this may be one of the reasons of no film on this as mentioned above.  I am again devastated !

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