Will it overtake India in IT Services ?
5 years ago, I had posed this very question to the Billionaire Chief of one of India's top IT Services companies.
At that point in time, he had said " No. India is ahead of China in Complex IT Project Management Skills and Domain Knowledge. "
Recently, I saw a newspaper article quoting the same CEO as saying that 5 years hence, China could be a major threat to India in Information Technology.
India's Software Association NASSCOM's Ex-Chief the late Dewang Mehta used to say that when software development becomes a science from the art that it is supposed to be currently, then China would overtake India.
I also disagree with the famous Indian author Suketu Mehta's reported viewpoint that "...Chinese don't have the right mindset for software development."
Software Development is a young industry (less than 5 decades ?).
Once it matures, going by past experience, you can perhaps expect Chinese manufacturing efficiencies to be replicated in software development services also.
China is in the news because of the visit of the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to India some time ago.
China is a superpower today.
Not only in Asia but in the entire world.
Consider these facts about China :
They are one-fifth (1.3 Billion +) of humanity today.
They consume one-tenth of the globe's electricity today.
In 5 years time, the number of Net Users in China will surpass that of the US.
They already are one-fifth of the world's Cellphone Users and one-twentieth of the world's PC Users.
English is taught in football stadiums.
Every Beijing taxi-driver is being trained to speak English by the 2008 Olympics.
I would not under-estimate their determination and capability to try and overtake India in software (the only area where they perceive themselves behind India).
India may be ahead today.
As long as complacency does not overtake capability and continous committment to ensure the same, India still has a chance.
The Chinese Premier's first halt in India was Bangalore.
India's IT Capital.
A Very Symbolic Gesture, highlighting the importance the Chinese lay on IT.
Also, in his speech there, he spoke about how India and China could possibly work together and dominate the world's IT markets.
The prospect of 'Chindia', an economic force combining both of China's and India's strengths already unnerves many global economic and political analysts and observers.
China as the world's factory for manufacturing and India as the world's back-office for services is a necessity for organizations seeking maximum business value in global competitive markets.
The rise of the East is a rude reality today for many developed nations.
At an earlier World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland ; Harvard University President Larry Summers said, "The integration of four-fifths of the world where people are poor with the one-fifth of the world where people are rich, has the potential to be one of the 3 most important economic events in the last millennium, alongside the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution."
One Key issue is - Can India overcome China's challenge ?
All the time we hear of complaints of India's bad physical infrastructure as compared to China.
Also, many people feel that doing business in India is simply too risky.
India has a lot to learn and emulate from China.
My challenge to Indian End-User Organizations and India's world-class IT Companies is the following :
It will take decades for India to match upto what China has done in this area.
However, can we leverage India's weakness in Physical Infrastructure by perhaps converting it into our strength as suggested by an ancient Eastern philosopher ?
Let us resolve to digitise our own organizations and institutions to such a large extent that the resultant Indian Digital Information Technology Infrastructure is able to overtake all deficiencies in physical infrastructure.
Making IT perhaps the Globe's leading Virtual Infrastructure.
Then perhaps, India's lead and leap in IT will be insurmountable.