Savour This: ITs The New Recipe For Peace

New Delhi | Updated: Mar 25 2004, 05:30am hrs
Software has done what politics could not. Its bringing together the unlikeliest of political partners: China has begun betting on Indian software know-how, Pakistan has shown admiration for Indias software might, and Israel is looking not at competition, but collaboration.

China has been the quickest to spot opportunities in India, though Pakistan and Israel do not lag far behind. In all, 15 Chinese companies are investigating joint ventures in India. Big telecom companies like Huawei (which has set up a development centre in Bangalore) and ZTE are already here. We are also taking an Indian delegation to China in April, says Mr PK Sandell, chairman, Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC). The recent formation of China India Software Association (CISA) has accelerated the pace of Indo-Chinese joint ventures and associations, he adds.

National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) and research firm Gartner analysts point out that Pakistan and Israel individually might account for a minuscule per cent of the Indian software and services exports but they could enable India to increase its share in the global IT industry.

On partnership with Pakistan, Nasscom vice-president Sangeeta Gupta said, To begin with, IT education and e-learning will be the focus for Indian companies to start operations in Pakistan. She added that India and Pakistan are increasingly looking at forging relationship at the small and medium enterprise (SME) level. Training, quality and certification are the areas of opportunities for the Indian software companies in Pakistan, she added.

Moser Baer CEO Deepak Puri said, All these years weve known only animosity so weve had very little relationship with Pakistan. But Pakistan is importing many similar products (that India makes) and services from Europe. According to Gartner vice-president (research) Partha Iyengar, Pakistan will pursue the Chinese strategy of attracting Indian companies to set up operations in its country.

Similarly, Israel - which sent a power delegation to India towards the end of 2003 - is beginning to explore the Indian market. Two Israeli companies - Amdocs and Magic - have already set up development centres in India. According to Mr Ari Bloch, managing director, Israel-India Ventures Ltd, there are at least five Israeli companies that are already outsourcing work to India in the space of software applications development and testing. Also, there are four Israeli companies looking at outsourcing work to India.

Gartner analysts point out that India can also learn from Israels strong expertise in product development and intellectual property rights (IPRs). According to Mr Puri, whose company Moser Baer has recently operationalised a manufacturing subsidiary in Germany, India and Israel can collaborate in intellectual property areas, especially in software dealing with avionics and also defence-related software.

IBM Software Group vice-president R Dhamodaran too is optimistic on Indias recent cross-border collaborative efforts. There are no shortcuts. No country can dominate in software space without collaborations with other countries, he said. According to Nasscom, while Indian software and services companies can team up with Pakistan to address Middle East markets, Israel can be roped in to tap the European market. Israel, which cant approach Arab markets directly, can also gain from Indias acceptability in the Middle East.

According to Nasscom and Gartner, security is still a major concern for the Indian IT companies considering to make an entry in Pakistan. Defence affairs analyst Brahma Chelaney said that India should exploit business opportunity with China, but without compromising its competitiveness or national security.