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Up the value chain[continued]

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Despite all these assets at the back, what matters most in the markets is the 'front end'. Here India is blessed with millions of her children spread all over the world. They study hard, work hard, do science, teach, manage huge corporations, smile a lot, are polite neighbours, don't sponge on the state, write great books in English, sing, dance, win beauty contests, love their children and respect their parents. And they seldom make bombs. It is natural that the country they come from evokes curiosity. And the products and services from there are well received.

Now to the favourites:

It is a comment on the times that success stories from the IT sector which first put India in orbit, should be listed last. Not because they are losing their edge; they are thriving, thank you. But what is happening is that India is not just IT alone, anymore. There are salients in other sectors as well.

But knowledge-centred India reigns supreme. Just three years ago the Indian IT industry was the equivalent of garment industry's sweat shops, littered with phrases like data entry, Y2K and bodyshopping. About then, India began to do 'medical transcriptions' for US doctors. In a few months India had scaled up, met deadlines and turned in quality work. The world woke up to the opportunities that awaited in India. Soon 'call centres' popped up. The next link in the value chain was business process outsourcing [BPO]. Airlines, insurance companies, auto majors, World Bank etc began to shift their entire back office work to India and have these services delivered over the wire by an army of dedicated, intelligent young Indians. Infosys says that the 'offshoring' model has proven itself beyond all doubts.

Gartner Research says that five Indian software companies have the most mindshare among nearly 200 top corporations when they think of outsourcing. Sophisticated jobs are being shipped to India: financial and market analysis for Wall Street, for instance. So many jobs are leaving the West that there is resentment building up. Far from bragging their deals, Indian companies have gone mute. 'Business Line' headlined in July, 2003: "Fallout of outsourcing backlash - IT services firms keep client wins under wraps." After all, has not New Jersey passed legislation --never mind, all that stuff about free trade-- to stop jobs going to India? But not everyone is discreet about India. Morgan Stanley and Nasscom - McKinsey have predicted that by 2010, India's BPO revenue will be $65 billion and fueled by that,India will be a trillion dollar economy. And ruining it all somewhat further for India's comfort, Andrew Grove has just said, that India's booming software industry, which is increasingly doing work for US companies, could surpass America in software and tech-service jobs by 2010. "He warned that America's software and service industries, strong drivers of US economic growth for nearly two decades, show signs of emulating the struggles of the US steel and semiconductor industries."

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