Why are Indian engineering talents not working for themselves?

Discussion in 'Economy & Infrastructure' started by RebateKing, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. RebateKing

    RebateKing Regular Member

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    I bet there are threads on the topic, if this is indeed a redundant thread, please close it and kindly point me to previous discussions.

    India has had great success in growing its IT outsourcing biz, no doubt about that. I personally know people who had their previous jobs off-shored to India. However, what I haven't seen is any indigenous product that came out of India that can compete with what the silicon valley can offer. This is true in consumer-facing products as well as enterprise offering; it seems Indian engineering talents find satisfaction working for Cisco, IBM, Google, Ebay, etc, but they shy away from working for themselves. Is it because of the good pay and comfortable environment in big outsourcing/multinational companies? or the prestige? or the job security? or a deficiency in higher education (post-graduate degree) hindering innovations?

    Please enlighten me.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011
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  3. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Let us compare some of the companies in the US.

    Now before I start writing the list, let me tell you, the point is not how many Indians work in the US, but rather, why they are not working for themselves?

    Some US Companies:
    • Apple
    • Microsoft
    • Corel (Canadian)
    • Adobe
    • Cisco
    • Yahoo
    • Google
    • Nortel
    • SUN

    Compare these companies with Indian companies:
    • Infosys
    • TCS
    • Satyam
    • Patni
    • Mahindra InfoTech

    Now please ponder. Can we counter these companies? What is the difference between what US companies do and what Indian companies do?

    The key is R&D. That is where we lag. Not many in India are willing to fund budding researchers. Not many in India will be willing to give due credit where it belongs. Our patent laws are complicated.

    I wish Indians were working for themselves. Some have made a great fortune for themselves. One example would be BOSE Corporation. I doubt if Amar Bose would have had so much success if he were to remain in India.

    India has potential. It is not there yet, but it will probably be there shortly.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011
  4. RebateKing

    RebateKing Regular Member

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    uninformed post deleted.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2011
  5. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    Pmaitra, the comparison that you listed is an example in itself. Product based companies Vs Service based companies. No wonder why R&D takes a backseat. Infosys does have a product for Banking Solutions, it is called Finacle. Not too successful to be heard about by many.

    There are some Indian product based companies too. However, right now they are in the incubation phase, to be among those recognized worldwide.

    US has been leading the world in terms of technological innovations for decades now, might be a century. India OTOH relaxed and opened up it's economy in the 90s. Most Indians who work in the IT sector, for companies such as TCS, Infosys as well as eBay, Yahoo!, Microsoft come from backgrounds diverse. Most are from the middle class. The main aim after a good degree is to take control of the household expenses, help out one's family. Get married, buy a car, an apartment and live a financially viable life. Too stressed in terms of investing one's own money for R&D. The idea of Venture Capitalists too has not been successful in India, considering the fact that most ideas goes down the drain in meeting family expectations, plus Indians are not risk takers. Middle class who have risen thus on the economic ladder of India's success, doesn't have money to bank on R&D. Ideas are there, but zero source of funding. Thereby, they end up working for US' product based companies.

    Some of the best product based companies in US were formed in garages. In India, we would turn out to be mechanics for lack of funding. GoI needs to invest more on P.hd's and higher education too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011
  6. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    You said it Oracle. That is the phrase that slipped my mind when I posted. Product based companies vs Service based companies.

    However, I think India and Indians need to start thinking beyond software.

    Software, IMHO, if 10% coding and 90% mathematics and statistics, i.e. if we are talking of R&D leading to products.

    Another bone of contention is lack of funding. In the US, companies, including NASA, start funding students at Universities. Where is all that in India, save the premier institutes?

    Very true. There are a few in India that have flourished like that and Infosys is one of them.

    There are probably a few more, maybe someone can list?
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011
  7. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Oh.. many of them do work for themselves. We hear about some, rest we don't.....

    Trends are different industrywise.

    Those who are really moved to create something for themselves are not distracted by comfortable life-style, job security etc offered by MNCs.

    Some of them are highly successful, some hit the rock bottom & some keep going in silent pace. Not essentially all startups of engineers turn into global biggies. Large portion of it are SME or sub-SMEs.

    I do agree that there is some nervousness among young engineers to take up any venture on themselves but I feel that it is also universal. We do not lag anywhere in educational standards required to burst out innovations.

    -- Story of Indian IT is different. Large part of it is in service oriented operations. So you don't see them competing with IBM products but providing them all sort of development support & product management.

    -- Automobile sector is something to look for in this decade. It'll surely reach new high in terms of innovation & global penetration. (I'm sure nobody missed nano)

    -- We do lag in industrywide core electronics development but that should catch up with more funds flowing into infrastructure.


    More & more opportunities will start appearing as time passes and hopefully we'll see engineering talent of India coming out with even more innovations.
     
  8. RebateKing

    RebateKing Regular Member

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    Speaking of banking solutions, I had some good experience with one from India, i-flex, which was bought by you, Oracle. :) That's a smart purchase.
    Do you think GoI should consider protecting those blooming product companies from being snatched up by SV juggernauts?
     
  9. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    It has to do with the quality of tertiary university level education. There are about 20-25 elite top-notch schools in India. A lot of the graduates move overseas for their Masters and Phd after finishing their bachelor's. But that's not the real problem

    The real problem is that after you pass the top 25 schools or so, there is a huge cliff drop down to the thousands of universities that crank out millions and millions of undergrads and Masters student. The standard at these 2nd tier schools is anywhere from mediocre to terrible. The facilities of universities in some of these schools are a joke. I've seen community colleges in the US that look better than some of these universities.

    This is the crux of the innovation problem in India and many other countries. A country the size of India cannot survive by just having a handful of elite universities. It has to have a university system that has a overall high standard. In the US or UK or Japan....there are certainly that handful of elite schools that are very hard to get in. But the standard at the 2nd tier universities is very good, and in many cases on par with the Ivy league school. The 2nd tier is not just 50 or 100 schools - its comprises of thousands of universities.

    This creates a large pool of highly employable graduates. You wont see American employers saying that these 60% of the new university graduates are unemployable like the guys at Infosys were saying about Indian college applicants a while back.

    Plus a lot of the innovation in the US comes out of research done in universities. Some of the biggest names were created by ex-university researchers.

    PS: In my travels in South and South-East Asia, I have am always amazed when I get into a cab and after a conversation - the driver tells me that he is a university graduate with bachelors degree or in some cases even a masters degree. Just confirms the point that many of these schools crank out graduates that are not employable.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2011
  10. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    It's a globalized world, and the more the competition, the more the benefit, it fetches to business as well as to the end users. Also what if Governments of other countries considered protecting their trademark organizations? Tata could not have bought jaguar and Land Rover. It's a win win deal for all.

    Bigger sharks would eventually eat up smaller fishes in the IT sector. Look at the way biggies like HP, IBM, Google, Oracle have been acquiring other companies. It's not just a product clients are interested in nowadays, it's the whole package they demand. Right from h/w to software and services.
     
  11. RebateKing

    RebateKing Regular Member

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    I can see people building consumer products in garages, but not IT products targeting the enterprise market. To do that, you would need domestic demand to spawn and support an ecosystem of indigenous product developments; and I see this increasing demand comes from both government and public/private enterprises, given the fast growing Indian economy. This is great for start-ups to experiment and develop product capabilities without having to acquire initial customer(s) from overseas. The same demand is there for consumer-facing IT products/services too.

    There are many students studying for advanced degrees in US universities, I think some of them must have gone back. Also, when I was a graduate student many years ago at a top engineering school, I met many Singaporeans on govt scholarships, they were required to go back to work in Singapore for an agreed period of time. Before GoI can build up Ph.D programs in Indian institutions of higher learning, I would guess it could take a similar route. Has something like that been tried already?

    Again, thanks for all the replies and I apologize in advance for any misinformation or misconceptions about India. You guys definitely have some of the best engineers

    Peace
     
  12. RebateKing

    RebateKing Regular Member

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    CC in US is a great bargain, no doubt about that. But why is there a huge drop pass the top 25 schools?
    Is that because other schools have been established more recently to meet the rising demand for college education, hence chasing quantity over quality?
     
  13. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    That's easy. In many countries there is no firm guidelines or standards for establishing universities and colleges or and even if there are, there is very little enforcement. The argument is that you dont need to have rigid standards bodies monitoring these institutions, since if they are really bad they will eventually go out of business since most employers will not hire students from these flaky institutions.

    In theory, it sounds like a reasonable argument; but in reality it produces a whole slew of half-ass universities and colleges that somehow manage to stay open and crank out thousands of unemployable graduates. This is also happening is many places like Malaysia and Indonesia as well. Even China has the same issue. This happens a lot in small towns in India as well.
     
  14. RebateKing

    RebateKing Regular Member

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    hm, but then how would those colleges manage to stay open if their graduates are not marketable? I think this may be related to the service-oriented characteristic of the Indian IT industry where one doesn't necessarily need an advanced degree/training to get a job offer.
     
  15. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Yes, this is the crux of the issue. And additionally, the Wipro-Infy type IT service companies that we do have, are not going to spawn any products or innovation on the scale of Western counterparts. yes, there are some small products that these companies may come up with, or buy - but in general, by and large, the company culture, nature of work, and work environment makes absolutely sure that even a person who was keen and interested in programming to begin with, will end up being thoroughly disgruntled and disillusioned at the end of it! For the most part of their operations, these Indian "IT service companies" dumb down a person's innovation and enthusiasm to such an extent that the person will not even dream of doing something innovative when he's out of it. And in most cases this is true of the "Indian arm" of foreign MNCs such as Accenture too. What I have seen over the years in the industry here, has taught me to be very cautious when I see resumes titled "6 years experience in SQL Server in Infosys" or "5 years experience in Oracle in Wipro".

    Maybe we IT professionals of DFI can pool together some product ideas and come up with something which we can market :becky:
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2011
  16. RebateKing

    RebateKing Regular Member

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    I think Indian IT service companies and the education system are taking unfair share of blame. Countless Silicon Valley companies have set up R&D centers in India, so clearly there are many talents capable of and interested in R&D work; it's just for reason or another they are not working on indigenous products.
     
  17. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    Did anyone mention investors? US companies get off the ground with investors before they pay huge R&D. That is usually for already established companies. These guys making multi-billion dollars corps out of their garage succeed because the people they show their idea to are willing to invest in it. Throw in enough money to advertise and you get even a dumb idea like a pet rock turned into $20 million. When it is a good idea it turns into billions.
     
  18. Dinesh_Kumar

    Dinesh_Kumar Regular Member

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    Another thing I seen is culture of working within companies.

    If young Indian Engineer in Indian company asks for information, details, plans, strategies, know how, etc. he usually falls short.

    Most successful people who can get info are sneaky, political game playing people, using any no. of indirect strategies to get work done. In this daily dance of trying to get information and convert into useful work, Technical knowledge and R&D gets the boot.

    I have seen Engineering Departments in college, where best technically equipped teachers are transferred off to some other task, to pave way for the next HOD, a master game player.
     

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