Indians are working at the low-end jobs of the outsourcing sector and they should move up the value chain to become a formidable force. The industry should come out of its comfort zone and and create value for the company and also to the manpower working for the company. Modi wants a Google or a Windows coming out of India.
Mr. Modi has a point. India has been back office of the world for a while now and yet to come up with a world class product. Only just recently was a chip produced in India. But that was with the help of Intel. Without taking anything away from the chip makers, India do not have any thing big to compete with the likes of Google or Microsoft. Not yet.
The first generation entrepreneurs got lucky with the outsourcing boom and the 1991 de-regulation in India. Entrepreneurs now also are lucky with the abundance of capital available, which wasn’t available for Infosys or Naukri. From having an idea but no capital to having capital but few ideas India came a long way.
But there are some things that sill plague Indian entrepreneurs. Indians are in general, risk averse. They grew up by listening to their parents about how important it is to get a job and a secure a life. They grew up with the sole aim of getting into the public sector. Never once were they told to grow up one day and provide jobs. Never once were they told to take risks. This behavior is rooted into the DNA, since they were kids. With that kind of grooming how does one expect to leave a high paying IT job to start up one’s own show? I do not expect them to.
Another bigger problem is connectivity. Both electricity and Internet. Infrastructure in India is lousy at best. Internet is unreliable and so is the power. Google’s co-founders (Larry Page & Sergey Brin) started up with an audacious project of downloading the Internet. They did not know how big the Internet was. This was in 1996. Needless to say, the project later became Google. They did not download the Internet but they searched it instead. The point here is, Larry and Sergey could think about downloading the Internet because they did not have to worry about the Internet connection and the power supply. Now, How many universities or schools provide that kind of infrastructure in India? My guess is, not too many.
So the answer to Mr. Modi is this. There will be companies that are better than Google, that will be coming out of India. But, it is going to take some time. How long? I don’t know. That depends upon the kind of governance we get. India will be stuck with low-end and services for quite some time. If you want India to move up the value chain sooner, I got a suggestion.
Become the Prime Minister. I don’t think anyone else has the political will to move India forward. Only you do.