INFOTECH NOW SUNSET INDUSTRY!

By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the sun is setting on the infotech industry. For a Saturday following the week when the new Narendra Modi cabinet was formed. For a Saturday following the week when there was a voice of reason in the form of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. For a Saturday following the week when all Goan NRIs and PIOs will now be at the mercy of the dreaded Enforcement Directorate.
AND a few stray thoughts on the sun setting on the info-tech industry. There are many parallels between the Indian textile industry and the info-tech industry. In the 1970s and 1980s, India had a flourishing textile industry. Mumbai was the heart of the textile industry with over two dozen textile mills. Indeed, it was the textile industry which was the most high profile industry before independence and the five decades of independent India. The oldest textile mill was the Empress Mill of the Tatas. Mumbai was full of big names like Bombay Dyeing which specialized in furnishing material.
There is Raymonds which produces the best suiting material. Every large business house had a textile mill ranging from the Birlas who had the Century spinning mills to the Reliance group which started off with a state-of-the-art textile mill in Ahmedabad to produce rayon and nylon fabric. The textile mills employed several lakh workers. Indeed, central Mumbai had huge housing complexes called chawls, primarily one-bedroom apartment blocks for housing textile workers. The problem was that the textile mills did not modernize so much so the cost of production shot up, leading to a drop in profits.
There came a time than when the land on which the textile mills were built was more valuable than the cloth they produced. Over a couple of decades and starting 1970s the textile mills started collapsing. Similarly, the info-tech companies in the country bloomed because of the differential costs. Primarily companies like INFOSYS, TCS and WIPRO exported software engineers to the Western world. Indian units offered info-tech services at a much lower rate than possible to create in the UK, US or Europe. It is much cheaper for giant companies like British Petroleum and major financial companies in the US to outsource their info-tech requirements to Indian units. In fact the first major assignment of Narayan Murthy who went on to start INFOSYS was to supervise the computerization of the airport in Paris.
But as in the case of textile industry, the info-tech industry too failed to keep up with the rapid technological advancement. So most info-tech companies in India are witnessing a decline because of the challenge of AI or artificial intelligence. The new technology has made coding largely irrelevant. The IT industry which was the largest source of employment to young engineers has stopped campus recruitment. In the last two years there has not been much additional employment generated. On the contrary there is no fresh campus recruitment for the last one year.
The irony is Indian software engineers in the United States are complaining that their jobs have been transferred to India where the same services can be provided at a much lower cost. Unless Indian software companies accept the challenge of AI and reinvent themselves they will have to shut down within the next five years. Information technology in India based on body shopping is a sunset industry.

MODI CABINET
AND a few stray thoughts on the new Narendra Modi cabinet. It would be a mistake to call it the new cabinet as all the main portfolios like home affairs, defense, finance and external affairs, have been retained by the BJP. To be more specific Amit Shah will retain the home portfolio, Rajnath Singh will continue to be the defense minister, Nirmala Sitharaman will retain the finance ministry and Nitin Gadkari will be the minister for transport and highways. If anything the BJP has kept all the major portfolios for itself.
The saffron brigade has been strengthening its hold with the inclusion of Shivraj Singh Chauhan, former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and Manoharlal Khattar, the former chief minister of Haryana. The alliance partners have been given only minor portfolios. It is HD Kumaraswamy from Karnataka who has been given the portfolio of heavy industry and steel. The only significant portfolio given to the Telugu Desam party group is to the 36-year-old Ram Mohan Naidu who has got civil aviation. Chirag Paswan has to be content with food processing.
Narendra Modi is clearly provoking BJP’s alliance with the Andhra’s Telugu Desam and Bihar’s Nitish Kumar (Janata Dal party). Maybe the BJP is planning to break up the Indi Alliance. It would appear that the BJP has not learnt anything from the verdict of the people against the party. We would like to remind Narendra Modi and the BJP that it is a minority government as BJP has only got 240 seats — which is not even a simple majority.

VOICE OF REASON
AND a few stray thoughts on the voice of reason in the form of the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. On the eve of the elections, JP Nadda, the BJP president, ironically declared that the party does not need the RSS any longer. This is absurd as it is the RSS which is the foundation of the BJP. Unlike Narendra Modi, Mohan Bhagwat has accepted the fact that it is an NDA government and not a BJP government.
In a very objective speech, Mohan Bhagwat criticized both NDA and INDIA for lowering the dignity of democracy. Bhagwat pointed out that both sides used falsehoods and abuses during the election debate. “Your opponent is not an enemy, he only represents different viewpoints,” pointed out the RSS chief. Bhagwat expressed regret that technology was used to spread lies about the RSS, this is a gross misuse of knowledge. Knowledge must be used for doing good and not evil.
Bhagwat stressed that the process had to be carried forward to all sections of society. Bhagwat said that the caste divide must be filled. The injustice which has happened to the lower castes and the minorities is unfortunate. Bhagwat noted that there was no reference to untouchability in the scriptures of the Vedas. This is only the work of selfish elements. Most importantly Bhagwat called upon Narendra Modi to sort out the civil war between Hindus and Christians in Manipur.

WORLD CUP
AND a few stray thoughts on India winning the World Cup cricket match against Pakistan. The recently concluded world match between India and Pakistan proves that it is not Virat Kohli alone who can guarantee a victory for the Indian team. There are 11 players in the Indian cricket team and all of them have taken responsibility for India’s performance.
Though the top stars of the Indian cricket team like Captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli failed in the match against Pakistan, the other players fought to ensure India’s victory. Rishabh Pant, who led Delhi in the IPL, compensated for the failure of Virat Kohli and the captain Rohit Sharma. The hero of the victory against Pakistan was the fast bowler Jasprit Varma who took three wickets and destroyed the Pakistani batsman. All-rounder Aksar Patel ensured that Pakistan would not be able to get the 18 runs that it needed in the last over and also scored 20 runs. The match against Pakistan dramatizes that India has a champion team which is not dependent on Virat Kohli alone.
In the match against the United States Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma were dismissed by Saurabh Netravalkar very early. Rishabh Pant also failed to score. It is the underrated bowler Arshdeep Singh who took a wicket on the first ball of the match and Suryakumar Yadav with his 50 runs who rescued India. May be India should start promoting the rest of the players and not just Rohit and Virat.

NEW ST INEZ DRAIN
AND a few stray thoughts on the collapse of the newly constructed drain at St Inez by the Smart City Project contractors. The drain is next to the temple located under a banyan tree at St Inez. Smart City Project boss Sanjit Rodrigues had claimed that the most modern technology has been used. The drain collapsed not due to the rains but due to the deep excavations that were needed to lay a major sewerage pipeline.
The Smart City Project people take pride in the advanced technology used. But this has not prevented the collapse of the newly built drain. The road stretch from Caculo Mall to the Tonca sewage treatment plant will now continue to be closed. Goa Forward chief Vijai Sardesai has demanded that a case be registered against the Smart City Project contractors.

FOREIGN GOANS
AND a last stray thought on all Goan NIRs and PIOs who will now be at the mercy of the dreaded Enforcement Directorate. This is because the new rule which would require Goans of foreign nationality to get clearance under the Foreign Exchange Act if they want to register property documents in Goa. So far Goan NIRs could register purchases of flats and land with the registrar of co-operative societies. Now they will have to submit their documents to the Enforcement Directorate before they register the documents.

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