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August 26, 1998


Dewang Mehta runs through software statistics again

Priya Ganapati at Pragati Maidan

Email this story to a friend. Back to IIW coverage index. There were not too many people at the conference hall waiting for Dewang Mehta, executive director, NASSCOM. But for the few there, it was one of the better presentations of the day.

In a talk peppered with some delightful anecdotes that had the audience smiling throughout, Mehta discussed the challenges and opportunities that the software industry is facing today.

The show started with a slide of an elephant followed by a very confused looking lion and the even more confused delegates wondering whether they were at the right conference.

Mehta was quick with the explanation. "Whenever I talk about the software industry, I have a picture of a lion to correlate the idea that the industry is roaring like a lion," he said as the audience burst into laughter.

In the same vein Mehta joked that if we had kept the copyright for zero after inventing it we would probably have been a superpower by now.

And the mood for the rest of the conference was set. In a 45-minute talk with lots of humour, but little substance, Mehta detailed the strengths and glitches of the software industry.

He pointed out that big brands like British Airways, Coke and Pepsi have their software developed in the country. "All these brands source their software from India. Only Indian Airlines has not come on board yet; and I guess that is the reason why they are never on time," he cracked.

The software industry in India has shown a growth of over 50 per cent for the last seven consecutive years. The software export industry has shown a growth of over 50 per cent this year. The US remains the preferred destination for software exports. India exports nearly 59 per cent of its total exports to US and about 23 per cent to Europe, he rattled off.

Mehta felt that the domestic software market is picking up because of the recent concession of zero duty on software products.

"We explained to the finance ministry that the concept of duty on software would not hold. Anybody who wants software would download it over the Net. So, the imposition of duty just does not make sense," Mehta explained.

He admitted that maturity among the end users is growing and now they do not want just boxes but solutions along with them.

A World Bank study conducted about a year ago showed that India is rated by vendors in US as the number one centre for smart-sourcing software.

Another independent study by the German magazine Der Speigel corroborates this fact in Germany, he claimed.

Mehta felt that India is in the ideal quadrant of low-cost and high-quality service sector. India recently acquired the highest number of ISO 9000 certificates in the world. Though countries like Ireland, Israel and Singapore are touted as the success stories, Mehta felt that though they provided high quality it was at a cost.

"Indian software services are of high quality. International companies would not outsource their products from here only because the cost is low," Mehta defended.

The Internet provides tremendous opportunities in terms of marketing to help boost products and packages. There is also a good market for local content if it is developed on the Net. Mehta feels that the reason why Indian products have not moved up in the value chain is because of the lack of market intelligence, market funds and insufficient documentation.

"There is almost a mafia in terms of distribution with the result that non-American products have never really taken off," Mehta charged.

On the user base at the home front, Mehta pointed out that "Earlier there were 700 MPs in the Parliament and none had a personal home page or site. Now 31 of them do. The numbers are small but it is a beginning."

Back to IIW coverage index. The software industry is projected to have a turnover of $4billion in terms of exports by 2000 and $50 billion by 2008.

Mehta finished his presentation with the assurance that the ISP policy would be announced by the end of the month.

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