I. STRATEGIC POLICY FOR IT INDUSTRY
The 108 Recommendations of the IT Action Plan Part-I emphasize the Policy Framework required for creating an ambience for the accelerated flow of investment into the IT sector, with specific orientation towards the Software Industry. The Information Technology Action Plan Part-II furnish 84 Policy instruments for the Development, Manufacture and Export of IT Hardware. The Task Force advocated that the software industry and the hardware industry are two sides of the gold coin representing India emerging as a global IT super power. The success of one, whether it is export of software of $ 50 billion by the year 2008 or IT penetration drive for realizing IT for all by 2008, depends on the concomitant success of the other.
According to a World Bank funded study, India is already ranked as No.1 from US vendors for offshore software development. Strategic policy instruments are required to consolidate its leadership in overseas market, while parallelly creating an accelerated demand in the Indian domestic market. The competitive edge which global software companies around the world have obtained by aligning with Indian Software companies is increasing the pressure and expectations from India as a software destination. The strategic policies which should be implemented in the shortest possible time and in the best possible manner are the following:
1. Productivity of the Indian Software Industry should be continuously upgraded by de-licensing and de-regulating the import of software productivity tools.
2. The per capita productivity level of Israel should be surpassed by the target year 2003 and USA by 2008.
3. For keeping pace with the fast changing trends in the software technology, companies and user organisations will be encouraged to spend one-fourth of the total software Budget for the purchase of software productivity and quality tools and nascent software related to the latest software technology trends.
4. The Indian Software Services and Software products exported, which are known for their high quality, should be sustained by compulsory insistence of ISO-9000 and SEI level-5 Standards or equivalent, certified by one or more competent certification agency/agencies in India. The concerned Administrative Departments will ensure that a runaway salary situation does not far outstrip the corresponding average salary of other high-tech industries in order to maintain the accelerating tempo of the quality to cost ratio.
5. In their drive to increase the international credibility, the software companies shall be allowed to utilise a part of their export earnings for putting in place all necessary means for meeting strict delivery schedules and customer satisfaction.
6. With software export growth poised to reach annual doubling rates by the year 2001, Government will fund a number of study projects to understand the problems precipitated and solutions required under conditions of such high growth rate. The findings will be publicised through appropriate media to all the companies and organisations directly or indirectly serving the export market. The Government will endeavour through crash programme efforts to help the industry overcome all major bottleneck situations arising therefrom. In particular, the fast growth rate is making a large number of project managers to become entrepreneurs, thus creating a gap in demand and supply of project management skills. Special funds will be enabled for commensurately increasing the supply of project management skills.
7. With India having the largest pool of English speaking IT manpower in the world, the Government of India will encourage furtherance of this strategic advantage for increasing software export. At the same time, special incentives will be given for increasing the language advantage in exports by promoting sections of IT manpower to cultivate other languages like European languages, Russian, Japanese and Chinese. For internal spread of IT culture, the knowledge and experience gained in language computerisation will be adequately extended to all the Indian languages by the year 2003.
8. One of the factors attributed to the software success of India is the mathematical and logic expertise in the background of more than 2000 years of mathematical culture. The Government will encourage migration of mathematical talents into mathematically oriented software development through adequate number of scholarships as well as subsidised retraining programmes. To create confidence among the recipient organisations in developed countries for Indian software export, the existing Copyright Law, which is one of the toughest in the world will be implemented in practice by providing specialised legal support to enforce the existing Laws. A committee of IT and legal specialists will be constituted to innovatively explore the ways and means for bringing software under a combination of Copyright and Patent protection.
9. As the trend of setting up of global research and development units by multinationals is a major opportunity for India, which has one of the largest scientific and technical manpower talent pool, the Government will extend all the facilities and supportive policies given to local R&D to such global R&D units also.
10. Offshore software development in India, through high speed satellite and fibre optic links, shall be de-licensed for enabling the creation of such linkages dedicated to software and related services export from India.
11. With about 160 out of Fortune 500 companies having out-sourced their software companies in India by 1998, Ministry of Commerce will work out a crash programme for awareness building for increasing this number to 300 by the year 2001 and 400 by 2003.
12. Following up on the successful migration of business lobbies at the Capital Hill, Ministry of External Affairs will create a Cell operating through specialised franchisees, for creating the best possible ambience for Indian software exporters to do business outside India. This would include the resolution conducive to Indian enterprises and Indian enterprises trading overseas to combat protective and non-tariff barriers created in the developed world, including Visa control. The country will launch major proactive diplomatic actions at ITA-2 of WTO.
13. All large IT projects taken by Indian companies in overseas market requiring more than 300 man-years of effort, will be eligible for all concessions under project exports.
14. In 1998, India's share in the global OEM professional services market was nearly 20 percent, but its share in global products and packages market was less than one percent. To enable tapping the vast global market in products and packages, which is the ultimate end of the value chain, the following policies will apply to leverage our software development/management skills in the international market, to encourage the trend-setting Indian companies and to pave the way for the new entrant's confidence in the Product Software business:
15. With India making an entry in 1999 into the listings in major overseas Stock Exchanges, a stage is set for attracting requisite Foreign Direct Investments. Taking note of the advantages of such overseas listing, the Government of India will maximally simplify the procedures to enable any registered Software Company to get itself listed in overseas Stock Exchanges like NASDAQ, NYSE, etc. This will improve access to the largest pool of equity investors in the world with a market cap exceeding US $ 15 trillion which can lead to lower cost of capital and higher valuation. This will increase credibility of Indian Software Exporters with clients and investors abroad. It will give recognition and visibility, create an acquisition currency and help create security on stock options for employees in the foreign country. After the listing, the companies can avail without restriction, post-listing services like Internet-based Information services, daily summary of activity in the Stock, Market quality analytic, Short selling, foreign market data, etc., as well as make it easier to participate in analyst meetings, regional conferences, satellite broadcasts, Internet hot link, Board meetings, etc. In the country's drive to create Indian multinationals around the world, listing in overseas stock exchanges is considered an essential facility.
16. A major industry reorientation programme will be initiated through CII and NASSCOM with promotional Government funding to attain world leadership position in the following areas among others.
Commercial opportunity of the IT enabled services are estimated by NASSCOM at US $ 75 billion growing at a rate of 20 percent annually. The more important such services include:
A NASSCOM Survey has forecast the following opportunities for IT-enabled services from India
Government of India, through its Gazette Notification dated 25 July 1998, has recognised IT Enabled Services as a key opportunity area for India and has urged industry and Government to work together in order to form suitable strategies to capture this market. Towards this end, the Government has amended Tax Laws which is highly beneficial to IT enabled services industry. Recognising IT enabled services as a thrust area, NASSCOM has suggested the following policy instruments:
17. Support and evangelizing by Government of India for proliferation of IT Enabled Services industry on a nationwide scale. This is made possible because communication means render distances redundant. This work has already started with Government of India announcing inclusion of these services under the purview of Section 80 HHE of Income Tax Act for Income Tax exemption.
18. Establish a string of "IT Enabled Services Habitat Parks" in various cities and provide quality infrastructure for hi-tech as well as other user companies. Such facilities may be used by start-ups or companies that do not have large scale of operations. These Habitat Parks would offer a turnkey solution for various infrastructure facilities such as office space, communications, single window approvals, assessment, etc.
19. Establish a Government and industry funded consortium that would scout for suitable business opportunities globally, and subcontract such projects to 'Grameen Data Processing Centres' that would be run and managed as profit centres by various municipal/village level authorities, in order to give quality employment.
20. Establish a dedicated high speed backbone connecting all major clusters of IT Enabled Services Habitat Parks or centres and provide for a dedicated international telecom gateway that funnels the traffic of these services.
21. Dedicate a corpus/venture capital fund with and initial funding of about US$ 100 million towards founding start-ups and entrepreneurial efforts for latering to IT Enabled Services Market.
22. Government of India should immediately establish Indian Institute of Global Services. The mandate of this institute would be providing market intelligence on domestic and global services industry to disseminate information such as new trends, market conditions, key indicators, new opportunity areas, etc. As an extended scope, the institute could also conduct research and suggest best practices, positioning of India as a global hub for IT Enabled Services, helping start-ups with marketing plans and contact databases, etc. Further, it may also design and facilitate courses for graduating and developing professionals for this sector. The certificate to be awarded may be recognised as an industry-wide acceptable qualification. The institute should be non-profit in nature and should preferably provide services through online means.
23. Introduce courses on IT Enabled Services as a vocational course under various schemes of Government of India.
24. A large industry consortium may be formed by active collaboration of Government of India, NRIs, leading Indian industrial houses, software companies and venture capitalists to address the huge opportunity offered by IT Enabled Services. Resource infusion from each of the stake holders, besides financial resources, may include mentoring for initial take off stage, establishing a global network to evangelise India advantage and rope in corporations/clients; co-development of quality infrastructure in India; regular advice to authorities on issues to be addressed; strategic and operational assistance; initial managerial deployment, etc. This consortium may also do a continuing job of building India's global brand equity in this area.
25. Position India in context of paradigm shift to 'Hub to globally competitive value services' as against talent provider. This would be a key to sustaining India's advantage and protecting future earnings.