Soms exit from Nasscom, a massive loss

Written by Darlington Jose Hector | Updated: Dec 16 2013, 08:31am hrs
As Som Mittal walks into the sunset after an unarguably successful stint as Nasscom president, the industry will miss a doyen. The Satyam scandal, the anti-outsourcing tirade in the US and global economic slowdownany one of these could have placed most leaders on the back foot but Mittal battled all these forces with aplomb.

It has been a tough, but satisfying journey. Now, I can look forward to teaching in management institutes and being on the boards of some companies that I believe in. Mittal has been Nasscom president since 2008 after successful stints at companies like Digital/Compaq, Wipro etc. I must say I have been lucky to get the support of many during my time as Nasscom president. Several hard decisions had to be taken, but I always got support from all corners.

Clearly, tackling Satyam was the toughest ask. When Tech Mahindra emerged as the highest bidder for Satyam, Mittal was the happiest man around. The Satyam episode had the potential to affect the image of the country as an outsourcing destination. So we had to act quickly. The first 72 hours after the scandal broke out were crucial. I am just happy that we came out of it pretty well.

Tech Mahindra had beaten L&Ts bid and agreed to dish out nearly R2,900 crore for a 51% stake. Satyams takeover by Mahindra helped them both and today the combined entity is a great force to reckon with.

While Mittals one eye has always been on tackling tricky situations, he always had to keep the other on growth. With the global economic recession forcing IT firms to trim their guidance repeatedly, Nasscom needed to come to their aid often. Fighting the anti-outsourcing wave was a big matter in itself. Fortunately, fears around this have subsided for the time being. Nasscom often faced flak on this count, but Mittal has continued on his mission.

Mittal reminds us that when he took over Nasscoms reins, IT exports from India stood at $46 billion but today it is at $86 billion. Setting up bodies like the Data

Security Council of India (DSCI) has been a great move. Today, DSCI with its agenda on best practices, cyber security awareness, cyber crime handling and public advocacy with governments is getting recognised as an industry led self regulatory body. The Nasscom 10,000 Start-ups initiative is another of his pet projects.

The second half of this calendar year has been better than most previous quarters. Yet Nasscom has decided not to revise its estimates and wants to stick to the 12-14% growth forecast for the fiscal. Mittal is of the view that 2013 has resolved many of the issues that the sector was facing in India. Issues around service tax refunds, advanced pricing agreements and safe harbour clausesall of these have met with some kind of solution or the other. So this year has been good, despite all the other challenges. Im sure 2014 will be even better.

I am clear that new innovative companies will emerge out of India. Those companies will represent our future. There are plenty of youngsters here who want to create global companies. There is also the requisite funding ecosystem to back them.

Mittal knows that he has been able to do, what he had in mind when he took over. At least, most of it. Now, I need some rest.

Also, I would like to pass on my knowledge to the younger generation. Hence, my decision to teach, he adds.

As he passes on the baton, a man of great courage and approachability is fading awaya true loss to the industry.