How Indian MIT and IIT Graduates Have Shaped Computer History

Discussion in 'Members Corner' started by thakur_ritesh, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

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    Recorded July 15, 2010

    In the last fifteen years the very names Bangalore and Silicon Valley have become evocative of the important connections between India and the United States in the global IT industry. Historian Ross Bassett argues that the linkages between the two countries are far older and deeper than is widely known. In the course of his research, he found that Indian graduates of MIT significantly influenced the creation of modern technological India. In the colonial period, a small group of Indians, including some associated with Gandhi, went to MIT as an anti-colonial act and as a way to develop technological capabilities for India. Indian graduates of MIT played a key role in the founding of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), and in the years after 1947, were central figures in the Indian steel industry, the atomic program, and the space program. The Indian IT industry today is to an astounding degree the product of Indian graduates of MIT. Since 1965, Indian graduates of MIT and graduates of IIT have also played an increasingly important role in American technology and computing.

    Bassett's research is based on numerous research trips to India and scores of interviews. For this project he created a database of every Indian graduate of MIT in the 20th century. Bassett has published articles on Indian graduates of MIT and on IIT Kanpur. His work was profiled in the Economic Times of India and he presented at the Godrej Lecture in Business History in Mumbai in October, 2009.

    This lecture features Dr. Bassett and T.M. Ravi an IIT graduate, Silicon Valley businessman, and member of TIE discussing the roots of the Indian IT industry and its influence on the computing history.
     
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  3. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    Sadly, there's no fruition of that which benefits India. There are very few Indian software startups that operate from within India, which sell software branded by them. By that I mean software companies that sell end-user software branded by themselves (like Tally, QuickHeal, etc.).

    What TCS, Infy, or Satyam do is consultant work. They're just air-conditioned software sweatshops. When American software companies hit a development or deadline hurdle, they send their homeworks across to Bangalore, where a dozen heads work on it for a price of one American head. That's not something to feel extremely proud of. You won't find an Infosys-branded operating system, an office-suite, or a content-creation software, but there's a high chance that Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, or Adobe Creativity Suite had scores of Infosys' poor-little bright devs behind it, who will never make it to the About box of anything they ever develop.

    What India genuinely stands to gain from is companies that operate from India, and sell products branded by them, because all its revenues will come to India. Those are fewer in number.

    Add to that, India hasn't even scratched the surface as a semiconductor, electronics and hardware manufacturing destination. That's where a lot of money is. People may pirate your software, they can't "pirate" hardware out of thin air, they'll have to buy it.

    My point is that we needn't feel proud of our diaspora in the silicon valley. Our people go there because there's better education, venture capital, and an overall better standard of life there. The only money they'll ever bring back to India is money for their relatives to buy SUVs or gold jewellery to wear in their over-the-top Indian Weddingâ„¢ that's posted on Livestream for their American friends' amusement. It's a simple case of brain-drain, and if that wasn't the case, companies based in India should have been topping the software industry. Not American companies with salaried or contracted Indian developers who pawn their talents off for a few dollars and make Uncle Sam richer.

    At the end of the day, the inconvenient truth is that we in India pay more for our Intel x86 processor and Adobe Photoshop license than Americans do. The fact that there were Indians behind the development of Photoshop or Core i7 is completely moot.
     
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