Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bengalooru has had it with IT!

That's the message in the latest Outlook cover story. While reading it, it appears to me that people -- even those who should know better -- are attributing to the IT sector what should really be placed at the doorsteps of governance. But, Sugata Srinivasaraju captures the change in the public perception quite well:

Infosys and Wipro are no longer considered gateways to heaven, but more as roads to hell. When Infosys's Narayana Murthy was charged with showing 'disrespect' to the national anthem, there was a glaring absence of sympathy for the IT czar in the public domain, whereas earlier there would have been a tidal wave of support. Likewise for Wipro, when it was charged by a government panel of encroaching upon Bellandur lake to build its guest house. Another time, when the state government proposed to set up an education training and management institute with the Azim Premji Foundation, there was a letter campaign against it. There is now a perceptible change in the way the public in Bangalore looks at Murthy and Premji, the two most revered symbols of its IT industry—that they're no different from other businessmen who merely make profits for their company and their shareholders.

But the really interesting stuff is in the two opinion pieces accompanying the cover story. C.N.R. Rao has used some intemperate language -- "If IT is going to take away our basic values, then you can burn Bangalore and burn IT." I am sure these poorly chosen words will come back to haunt him.

Subroto Bagchi, on the other hand, thinks that Bangalore's resentment against the IT sector is like some marital discord caused by a misunderstanding that can be cleared up through better communication. This sounds too silly to buy into when you realize that the IT industry is not some quaint little industry run by a bunch of newbies; it is now a multi-billion dollar industry, whose enormous and extremely media-savvy PR machine ensured that it got a big chunk of the credit for the "India Shining" story.

Bagchi's column also has some irony that's all the more delicious because it was unintended. At the beginning of his piece, we get the now standard story about how the heroes of the IT revolution made it all happen without any government help. [I don't know where the tax holidays stand in this grand picture, but I will let it pass.] But all that heroism vaporizes when he bemoans, just a little later, the government's lack of sympathy for the IT sector when it was hit by the recent surge in the Rupee against the US Dollar.

Nice try, Mr. Bagchi!

* * *

Thanks to Confused for the pointer.


  1. Anonymous said...

    I think Prof. Rao is exhorting the big IT companies to set up a Stanford/Harvard type private university in Bangalore. Sometimes strong words like his do the trick.

  2. Anonymous said...

    I wonder why all the big-wigs of Indian S&T including Indian govt. keep opening all these new institutes keep opening in metros. Why can't all the new higher-education institutes focus on second-tier cities. This can energize the economy and society instead of catering to urbanan foreign returned elites