Nasscom 2010 – this is how it began

February 12, 2010 at 5:35 am 1 comment

On February 9 as the four of us – Yusuf Jan, Faisal Shuja Khan, Syed Ahmad and I – walked into the Grand Hyatt, and registered for Nasscom 2010, we met various people from the Nasscom team and from the Indian IT industry. Some were old friends who were happy to see us and others were people that we were meeting for the first time. As we chatted and caught up, it was obvious how easy it was to relate to each other and once again I thought how unfortunate it was that we couldn’t meet more easily and more frequently. This was echoed by a lot of the people I met who thought that as a region we were losing out because we could not capitalize on combining our strengths and collaborating to make our region richer and more vibrant. “Look at what others around the world have been able to do in the EU, NAFTA, Asean,” said someone I have been meeting at various Nasscom events over the years. Yes we have disagreements which we may never resolve but does that mean we should let that keep us from developing our region and letting the benefits of such collaboration alleviate some of the common issues that plague our people? I am not a political being and have never really understood if wars and strife and political posturing ever helped anyone. I am not naive enough to believe that serious problems don’t exist but as Yusuf pointed out, can our politicians not let a functional layer continue to operate with efficiency while they blow “hot and cold” at the political level? We have spent the past 62 years fighting several wars, making political statements that helped neither side, keeping each other from alleviating the poverty that exists in our countries, from sharing the strengths and talents that exist in our region and from developing an understanding that could perhaps one day lead to solutions that we as independent nations are looking for.

Anyway, at our level, we continue to try and meet, to exchange views and to learn from each other. Som Mittal, President of Nasscom, warmed our hearts when during his inaugural address at Nasscom 2010, he said that he specially wanted to extend a warm welcome to the delegates from Pakistan. There were 1700 delegates at the Nasscom event this year. This included around 300 foreign delegates. Som was one of the key people who was responsible for processing our visas as quickly as he could. He called the Home Minister himself to ensure that it was done. Thanks Som.

The inaugural session included the traditional lighting of the diyas, the addresses by the Chairman and President of Nasscom who talked about how a 5.5% growth had been achieved despite the recession, how challenges like the Satyam scandal had been dealt with and how the Indian IT industry had to transform itself to address the challenges that were yet to come. Complacency should not be adopted simply because they had acheived as much as they had. ‘Giving back’ and addressing the problems of the rest of India was something that was repeated throughout the conference. The Indian IT industry lives in a magical bubble despite having created massive employment opportunities and wealth for their country. The focus therefore was on how to extend the benefits to the smaller cities, towns and villages.

The Chief Guest at the inaugural session was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Mr. Ashok Chavan who talked about the increasing adoption of technology by the government and the growth in government services that would impact on the larger number of citizens in the country.

I am glad to see that Nasscom is now awarding products that are being developed to address social issues. Jerry Rao who is the Chairman of the Nasscom Foundation announced this year’s winners during the opening of the conference and the Chief Minister presented them with awards. Although there is a long way to go to get corporate India (and for that matter corporate Pakistan) actively involved in the social use of technology (this was pointed out during the CSR track at the conference where you could see a larger percentage of women), at least there has been a beginning. In fact one of the participants brought this up during the Q&A session commenting that it was the heart of India that was in that room. Maybe the rest of India would follow, he said.

Some of the applications that were showcased in the CSR track were not innovative in themselves but were impressive in the volume of adoption that had been achieved. I was happy to see that areas like health of the masses, missing children and education were high on the agenda. Again this is an area that organizations on both sides of the border are working in and where the benefits of each others work, research and experience can be shared very easily.

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