By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi: The second phase of the infotech revolution in India – themed around innovation and creativity – is pushing IT promotion body Nasscom to focus on creating the right environment for young Indians, says its former president Kiran Karnik.
“I think the role of Nasscom is evolving to concentrate more on the eco-system – the next phase of growth which is about innovation and creativity,” Karnik, who led the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) between 2001 and 2008, told IANS.
His new biography, “The Coalition of Competitors” (Harper Collins-India) arrived at the bookstores last week to praise. It unravels the story of Nasscom from its formation after an innocuous meeting of IT entrepreneurs here in 1987 to the role it has played in the growth of India’s IT software industry, considered among the best in the world.
Nasscom has been leading the boom in the Indian software and business process outsourcing (BPO) sectors – engaging with key constituencies abroad till the late 2000.
But with the government declaring 2010-2020 as the decade of innovation, the pressure is mounting on Nasscom to play a broader role, Karnik observed.
“Till now the magic formula was better, quicker and cheaper to reach out to more people in a narrow area…But the next phase is cheaper, better, quicker and different. The coming phase is about differentiation,” Karnik said.
Karnik said Indians “had it in them to be creative”.
“The two great drivers of innovation are diversity and adversity. The diverse culture of the country helps us appreciate the fact that we think differently. Silicon Valley in the US is an example. The arrival of waves and waves of immigrants led to diversity (driving innovation). It cannot be said about central America, but the east Coast of the US has seen diversity,” Karnik said.
Explaining the importance of adversity in push-carting innovation, the writer said, “When you have a problem, you solve it. When you are driving somewhere and you find the road blocked, you drive on the wrong side (to negotiate the block)…You are thinking differently. We haven’t been able to channel this ability to think differently.”
“We have to create a channel for it. The industry will have to do it with the help of Nasscom at the overall level,” Karnik said.
He said, “Nasscom will have to work with the government to reform the education system in school to create an eco-system for IT innovations from the 5th and 6th grades to the university level.”
“It can try to inculcate risk taking, the spirit of entrepreneurship and more interactions with the industry to give them skills to solve life’s problems. It is easy for someone to think big in his head – but the idea needs resources and the right agencies to become real. One of the roles for Nasscom in the future is mentorship and guidance,” he said.
Karnik, a member of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, said: “Nasscom was also working with the government to create a policy for environment for creativity and innovations in the Indian connectivity and equipment space.”
Divided into nine segments, the book covers the genesis of Nasscom, the lift-off of the 90s, the transition years of the new millennium, the BPO party years, the problems of success, role of government, the expansion of Nasscom’s role and its vision for the future.
A vision for 2020, “Perspective 2020”, a study by Nasscom-Mckinsey, shows that “a more proactive Nasscom will be required to counter possible shortages of human resources, inadequate infrastucture, unfriendly policy and business environment and growing competition – the risk factors that could impede India’s IT success story in the future,” Karnik said.
The writer said his “biography of Nasscom was a case study – a concept – for other industries to learn from the model”.