Yes. Can you believe this?
Here we are, thinking that the Indian software industry is a great success story and a role model. This news makes us -- me, at the least -- wonder why Kiran Karnik, the IT industry's major leader and figure-head seeks more help from the government.
Let's look at the kinds of help he wants. Use of existing infrastructure in the government labs, and funds for filing patents. If you, like me, had any impression that IT industry has a solid VC culture, where good ideas will always be
rewarded funded (along with a whole lot of bad ones too), just erase those impressions. Karnik wants government help!
If private players are unable to see something as patentable, just how will the government be able to decide? Using a committee of secretaries? If infrastructure is a problem, is it too much for someone with a great product idea to get enough VC funding to collaborate with labs as an equal partner? Just why should the government be spending more and more money on private initiatives, when public infrastructure -- roads, power, ports -- is crying out for attention.
Finally, government funding comes with government interference as well. Does Karnik want the latter too?
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Just look at this editorial in yesterday's Hindu, which points to the "dismal scenario ... that only about 40 per cent of graduates from engineering colleges are employable". Why? Lack of qualified teachers.
Imagine a fresh engineer recruited by an IT company such as Infosys or Wipro. If his/her prior training is poor, the company spends extra money for remedial training. Instead of this mode of functioning, doesn't it make sense to spend some money on training the faculty? Of course, individual companies would not be able to do this, because each company is not sure that the benefits would accrue to it. But, a collective of IT companies -- NASSCOM! -- can certainly do it, with funding coming from its members. This collective could also publish manuals and other teaching aids.
Instead of taking up steps which are (a) entirely within its circle of influence, and (b) likely to result in a broadbased improvement in quality of human resources (IT industry is a Knowledge Industry, remember?), NASSCOM is wasting its time in asking for government help for a small segment of the industry.
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It's not surprising at all that NASSCOM is identified more with lobbying than with any proactive measures.[End Rant]