Archive for February, 2004

Hindustan Ink becomes Micro Ink – a global force to reckon with

February 29, 2004

Hindustan Ink over the past decade has grown from a small Indian company to a
global MNC with consumers in 50 countries and an export figure of $ 100
Million. It is gratifying to note that it is the 15th largest Ink Manufacturer
in the globe. It is not in IT we are seeing the emergence of Indian MNC’s –
Infosys, Wipro, Moser Baer, Ramco, and i-Flex); we have Reliance in Telecom
(including ownership of FLAG) and Petrochemicals; Mittals in steel; Bharat
Forge in Foundry; Ranbaxy in Pharmaceuticals; Tata Motors and TVS in
automotives; and now Micro Ink.

India has started to shine!

ATM as general purpose disburser of financial services

February 28, 2004

Indian Banks are finally deploying ATM (Automated Teller Machines) in a big
way. ICICI was a pioneer in large-scale ATM deployment; it had managed to
shift banking transactions in branches from 97% in 1997 to 30% today. PSU
Banks are not far behind. State Bank and Bank of India are aggressively
deploying ATM machines. Today India is one of the fastest growing markets for

Independently, several agencies are deploying special purpose machines – BWSSB
in Bangalore for collection of Water Bills, KPTCL for Electricity Payments are
two such examples.

Also, many of the Banks in India operate their own ATM machines, leading to
inefficient capital utilization. Someone in Reserve Bank should quickly
mandate that ALL the Banks in India should let ALL users use ALL ATMs

In addition, ATMs today are very much software controlled. It is possible to
“configure” ATM machines, so that they not merely disburse cash, but offer a
whole range of services. Already, ICICI offers SIM card charging for cellular
phones. IIT Madras students have been paying fees using ATM machines. Most of
the Government-related functions (e-governance activities) can be “programmed”
for delivery using ATM machines. With shared usage across the Banks, sharing
across Government departments and thereby increasing utilization of capital
equipment, we can focus on multi-lingual interfaces, speech-based
interfaces, finger-print-based authentication, solar-powered ATM’s etc., which
genuinely address the needs of the Indian consumers, particularly in the rural

Kiran Karnik’s Vision – India is synonymous with IT

February 27, 2004

In the past three years Kiran Karnik as President, has taken NASSCOM to the
next orbit; Dewang Mehta his predecessor (who died suddenly) had played a
major role in making NASSCOM an amazingly successful body, but due to his
depth of understanding Karnik has pushed it to yet another height.

During a recent media Interview where Kiran was asked about his strategic
vision that had led him to this success of NASSCOM, Kiran gave his one line
strategy – make India synonymous with IT – people should think of India
whenever IT is mentioned
– the way people associate France with perfumes
or Switzerland with watches or Thailand with Rice – what a strategy!

India is slowly coming around to this position. If Kiran succeeds (I am
confident he will), India could well be on its way towards economic prosperity
– as IT is the mother industry for all other industries (Power, Oil, Gas,
Auto, Steel, Transportation, Tourism, Travel, Healthcare & Finacial
Services) and also a huge industry (already more than a trillion dollar)

Infosys among seven global brands with a conscience

February 26, 2004

It is indeed a proud moment for corporate India & IT professionals that
Infosys, a home grown company of modest size, is one among seven global
brands with a conscience

This is the first time this Award has been instituted by this influential
Think Tank on Brand. Infosys is the only Indian company to win this Award
(there are two winners from UK; USA, France, Netherlands and Japanese
companies had one winner). This is particularly gratifying that Infosys won
this Award from India – a relatively poor brand conscious and brand aware
Nation; a country with very high corruption rate; and, coming at a time when
scam stories go around the corridors of the corprate world, it is a
refreshing, satisfying and a rewarding experience for all of us. Infosys,
you have done us proud; we salute you!

Bank of India bites the bullet – outsources to HP / Oracle / Finacle

February 25, 2004

Bank of India decided on the outsourcing route to siginificantly inject IT
into their operations and decided to implement Core Banking solution across
750 branches immediately & to extend the same to all other branches later.
Interestingly this will be one of the first such large-scale outsourcing (of
course over 10 years) contract in India; another “feather in the cap of Bank
of India (Guiding Star as BoI is called)

Electioneering gets IT-savvy

February 24, 2004

The upcoming elections are interesting from an IT perspective. The largest
democracy happily uses Electronic Voting Machines though the second largest
democracy (USA) still shying away! As mentioned in my earlier Weblog (Feb 13,
2004), SMS is being planned in a big way. Congress has apparently allotted Rs
50 Crores. What is still more interesting – BJP had used 150,000 samples in
Gujarat instead of the normal 8,000 – 10,000 samples; the enlarged sample size
seems to have worked wonders; the party is expecting to use such large sample
size in the Parliamentary election too.

So while most sectors only export IT to other countries there is at least one
sector, namely, elections in India truly consumes IT too!

IT behind much of “India Shining”

February 23, 2004

It was interesting to watch yesterday the debate on ND TV, about “India
campaign launched by the Government. Understandably, there was a
deep resentment from Congressmen like Mani Shankar Iyer and full support from
BJP men.

What was specially interesting to IT professionals like me was the fact that
India’s achievements in IT (whatsoever little) – both outside India
(by way of software exports ($ 14 Billion), Indian IT professionals and
entrepreneurs playing a leadership role globally); and second inside
– Indian IT companies setting up global standards (campuses,
employee benefits, global listings), Indian telecom industry doing so well
(adding million+ mobile customers every month, month after month, mobile phone
tariff lowest among the world) had a major role in “India Shining”. The direct
role is by way of boom in spending – youngsters buying cars like never before
(which in turn led to growth in road construction that fuels the growth in
core sector of cement & steel), investing in housing (that too led to growth
in core sector), travel, hospitality and local transportation (that led to
commercial vehicles growth); more important, there is confidence in the minds
of youngsters (IT industry is dominated by youngsters) that “IT can be done
here”; in turn, it led to stock market growth, the stock market growth is more
sustainable thanks to the phenomenal success in dematerialization of stock
pioneered by NSDL and online stock exchanges pioneered by NSE, youngsters use
online booking of air and train tickets, the business confidence improvement
brings in record FDI, record number of companies outsourcing to India,
starting their Indian operations; and, finally, outsourcing to India even
becoming a campaign issue in US Presidential Election!

Obviously, the youngsters in yesterday’s debate were all praise for “India
Shining” campaign, not because they support BJP, but because it sends a
positive message
. My own take is simple – India needs a strong dose of
positive thinking – everyone should do it. Congress should simply start a
counter offensive again “India Shining, thanks to Congress” – they
started IIT’s, IIM’s, BEL, ECIL, ITI, HMT, SAIL, VSNL, CMC – the source of
technology and people for the highly successful IT industry across the globe;
they should avoid on all counts “India NOT shining” campaign; the youngsters
are tired of listening to “crying”; Congress should strike a positive chord,
which they have every reason to, after all they did so much for India; unless
they do it the youngsters will dump them.

Of course time alone will tell who is right!

One of the five mega-trends in Electronics is “Asia Rising”, according

February 22, 2004

It was an experience listening to Pasquale Pistorio, President of ST
Micro-Electronics, the No 2 semi-conductor company in the world, last week. In
his talk to senior executives in Bangalore & Delhi, the semiconductor industry
veteran (who merged his relatively small Italian company with French major
Thompson Electronics to bring ST Micro into the big league over his decades of
active experience), talked of the five mega-trends in Electronics Industry
(that is much larger than IT industry). One among the five trends was Asia
; of course it was music to our ears!

Interestingly, he had these trends in his mind a decade back and started his
development center in Delhi; they are growing their activities further by
adding one more centre in Bangalore.

Via launches Rs 29,999 Laptop in India

February 21, 2004

In the just concluded Skoch Summit at Delhi on 19th February 2004, the
Taiwanese IT company Via launched a “value for money” a regular (not a
crippled piece) Laptop with full features– 256 MB RAM, 20 GB HDD, CD,
LAN/Dialup port, Serial / parallel / monitor port, 4 USB expansion slots – at
an incredible price point of Rs 29,999. I looked at it, (the piece has
magnesium like finish, not so heavy piece that is truly light on the pocket),
in disbelief, but convinced that it is one more news that makes us “Incredible
India”. Get hold of Ravi Pradhan, Via India CEO; he was kind enough to donate
one to IIITB); and grab your piece.

Refurbished PC’s – Will IT industry learn from Auto Industry?

February 20, 2004

Maruti pioneered the concept of “used cars” through its carefully worded and
orchestrated “Pre-owned” cars and “TrueValue” concept. Within 18 months, it
has 4,000 proud customers for its new service. It even plans to extend its
service to other brands. India, with 300,000 PCs just in Top 10 Banks & Top 10
Software Companies alone has a 100,000 high-value Used PC’s (with a 3-year
refresh cycle), just out of these corporations. Will the manufacturers look at
organized “refurbished PC” marke?. It will truly bridge the “Digital Divide”

(Part of the Financial Express Article of February 20, 2004 – Read Full