India to have next Silicon Valley: No

India, the IT superpower, the outsourcing destination, the talent mine or whatever else you may perceive HAS come a long way!

From being a nation of snakes and Sadhus (priests), we’re now known for our brains & confident outlook. Soon as I (or my looks) tell people that I am from India, I see respect & an assumption that I must be into software (which actually is not wrong).

The change was brought about when Bangalore happened to India, much read, much written so am not gonna talk on that anymore.

As usual, I will stick to my policy of not bombarding readers with data.

Of course the following thought process + analysis stems from the recognition that India has arrived on the world stage & achieved BIG time. Is India really there? Is Bangalore anywhere close to Silicon Valley? Definite NO. Still feel India has got the last mile yet to travel & seems as if that’s gonna be the most critical part of India growing.

The perennial Indian problems: dilapidated infrastructure, poor transport, heavy pollution levels have plagued Indian IT cities equally. Bangalore suffers from pollution, bad traffic & poor waste management. Pune has issues with transport, roads. Pune also suffers due to non-availability of an international airport (which is already at least 15 years late). Less talk the better about Mumbai. Hyderabad & NCR have performed much better on these counts however these cities struggle on security due to communal tensions and high crime rates.

Now, these problems can be overcome by political positive will which needs to be aroused by people & businessmen.

Towards more subtle & may be more critical issues in building a business hub:

1. India scores low on ‘risk-taking’. Many factors like traditional brain-drain, political apathy towards research & business, culture that discourages failures – have contributed to Indian talents riding safer boats, always!

Cannot remember exactly who said it recently, I came across an article lambasting Indian culture for not being able to encourage failures: I agree with the thought & strongly feel that overall culture, the ecosystem that we’re brought up in determines the risk-taking capabilities of a person which is one of THE most crucial factors in business (majorly during starting up)

2. Something that plays a major dampener in India’s growth is the behavior of the talent pool: many people sitting in India are trying to solve problems faced by the US. Globalization is very welcome but there must be a stream of people focusing on India’s local problems too.

Aren’t we missing out on ideas and business opportunities that lie in our own backyards?

Indian IT is far far away from the rural India & it’s an irony these guys expect the government to come to them. The e-growth is not reaching the lowest levels yet. Reaching rural India doesn’t mean philanthropy or charity: treat it like business, pure business.

For an example: Microsoft (and other Silicon Valley giants like HP, IBM, Intel) enabled American small towns to utilize teachnolgy for growth, these firms not only strengthened the technology base of common American citizen they also ripped off huge benefits out of it. ‘Make people use what you make.

If they can’t, teach them how to use what you make – even better’ India IT is still to realize the importance of ‘creating’ a customer base. Indian software giants are falling behind & they are still concentrating on existing (and saturated) US markets. Probably one of the reasons why Infosys, Wipro, TCS can’t be what Intel, Cisco, HP are.

3. Another amazing difference you can notice between cultures: Indians complain a lot more. It is a trend in India – to complain & crib about governments. It seems Indian society has not reached a level of maturity. Experts complain, celebrities complain, businessmen complain.

You’d see a much better attitude in Silicon Valley where everyone upbeat and brimming with confidence – a characteristic exuberance that makes Silicon Valley what it is Today.

The negative cribbing leads to people getting away from India’s causes, it hampers health & harmony of the society. As it turns out, Bangalore is far away from drawing a line between criticism & cribbing. (I had talked about this in one of my last posts as well – http://therigidandnimblepartofit.blogspot.com/2009/10/normal-0-false-false-false-en-us-x-none.html)

4. One more factor that could well spoil India’s party is social disparity across the country. In my opinion, India has the highest delta in the world between the rich & the poor – which results in consistent communal unrest every now and then – also, this kind of imbalance is responsible for producing many upstarts & pseudo-intellectuals. Recently seen an example of this divide – http://therigidandnimblepartofit.blogspot.com/2009/12/as-amazed-as-i-am-right-now-not-sure.html#links

5. As if to congregate these factors, India’s blessed with an immature and biased media that relies on igniting the emotions to earn every Rupee they can (I have followed Indian media quite consistently but haven’t been much impressed: http://therigidandnimblepartofit.blogspot.com/2009/10/media-religion.html)

6. Also of paramount importance while setting up a global industry is to have a good ecosystem of business that contains good technical schools, research labs – fronts India under perform on. Very little percentage of India’s budget is directed towards the R&D, something that needs to be stepped up in order to control brain-drain (if it at all exists in this not-so-optimistic job market) & to encourage reverse brain-drain (something China’s doing to great effect). R&D in India is as good as nothing – it hardly gets any support – it hardly contributes anything!

Wish India to travel the last mile!

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