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IT : Indian Scenario
and the Road Ahead
|by Subhajit Ghosh|
Since the early eighties, IT awareness and related developments have been taking place in our country at a galloping pace. Many engineering colleges including IITs, RECs, IGNOU and many private computer training institutes started offering computer courses and thereby produced IT specialists galore. The competence of Indian computer specialists have been since acclaimed universally and many of them were absorbed in high paying jobs in foreign countries mainly in the US, UK, Australia and a few others.
The recent US slowdown and substantial job cuts for Indian IT professionals mainly in the US seemed to have acted as a dampener for IT enthusiasts. Nevertheless, things aren't as gloomy as many pundits would have us to believe. Several domestic companies such as Satyam computers, Hughes software and Wipro have posted excellent results this year. The slowdown has not had any repercussions at all on these companies.
Presently, IT application in India is much lower compared to China and far eastern countries. Tele-density in India is only 2.6 per hundred compared to a world average of about 15. Lack of bandwidth, low speed leased lines and untimely servicing are some of the impediments that presently beset the IT sector. Unless our tele-density increases significantly, a genuine IT revolution would not be possible to usher in our country.
The main hurdle in spreading IT and to increase the computer literacy base is the huge investment required to bring about the improvement. In our country, most people can't afford to buy computers and only substantial investment can ameliorate the scenario in telephony, power and internet and provide a wider section of our society with its benefits. While countries like India have a telephone density of about 1.5 per hundred inhabitants advanced countries like US and Sweden report around 50% homes with computers, phones and internet connection.
Our PC base is around 5 million, owned mostly by professionals or in the corporate sector. Encouragingly students are increasingly using the Internet as an information source and an educational tool. Voting for elections using Internet is still a distant dream ( UK has already done it) and even e-commerce couldn't flourish because of low internet penetration. A study by NASSCOM predicts a significant increase in both these areas in the near future.
The e-learning market is expectedly huge in our country. Corporate training and coaching for examinations are in-demand areas of the e-learning sector.
Recently, the magazine Asiaweek (May 18, 2001) featured an article on Asian IT professionals and has statistically shown that the region's schools and universities produce far less IT professionals than the current demands in the market. Hence, India should produce more quality IT professionals as huge demands still exists in many Asian and European countries besides our domestic requirements.
India, with its software expertise can be projected as the ideal center for American and European companies for outsourcing. Foreign firms could save more than 50% by doing work in India. Summing up, investments is required to upgrade inefficient existing facilities. Higher bandwidth can result with laying of fibre optics cable which in turn will help e-commerce and e-learning. Industry should play a more active role and work in collaboration with the Govt. for overall IT development.
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