Calcutta: Day 3


If walking around Calcutta yesterday was about discovering old India, then today was about new India.  The morning saw the opening of India Infocom 2006 with a keynote address by the President of India.

The man is one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever seen speak.  Despite his small stature (he stands on a block to use the podium), he commanded the attention of everyone in the room.  He did this through force of personality-but equally due to his knowledge of what he was speaking about.

He challenged the Indian IT industry to reach $200 billion in exports for 2010 (vs. the $60 billion their McKinsey-sponsored survey suggests is feasible) and reminded them that India needs to keep moving up the value chain: don’t ignore nanotechnology and semiconductors, etc.  Finally, he also challenged the industry to ensure that the gains of modernization are spread throughout society: free bandwidth, telemedicine in rural communities, etc.  It’s tough to image the Governor General waxing poetic like that about technology.  Oh yeah, and he doesn’t just preach it, he practices it too-the text of his speech was available on his website right after he was finished.

I actually didn’t make it to the exhibition hall (a disappointment), but I can live with that as instead I was able to see first hand the embodiment of the “vast sucking sound” that people fear India could be to North American white collar jobs (I’m being facetious as I don’t think there’s any “sucking sound”-rather I think India encourages healthy competition and raises our standard of living by forcing us to provide better services).

I was able to get a tour of Technopolis, India’s first green-certified IT building.  Try to imagine a world-class office building in the midst of what appear to be run-down buildings.  It’s all glass and steel and glowing lights amidst fading plaster and darkness.  The building is so modern and green that it actually earns carbon emission credits under the Kyoto treaty (to the tune of ~$12K per month).

The building is also introducing things that folks here aren’t used to but we take for granted: an 850-seat food court, coffee shop, travel agent, medical clinic, etc.  One of the most impressive statistics about it: one of the companies working in it used to buffer 10-15 employees a month for attrition-their attrition rate has now dropped to 0!

I also had an interesting chat with a VP at some software company.  I asked him if it was hard for him to find good talent in India (given that the economy is booming).  His response was somewhat enigmatic: he has no problem hiring people under 25 as they want to build skills and he has no problem hiring people over 35 as they’re looking for a steady income.  However, he can’t hire people between 25 and 35 as they all want to change the world and he knows they won’t stick around too long waiting to change it.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

# Exception: TypeError
# Message  : contentDiv.getElementsByClassName("comment-manage-link").each is not a function