The world today is struggling with the financial crisis and recessionary trends. As countries struggle to restore normalcy, they will try to stem job losses and stimulate their economy in whatever way they can. One of those ways is to protect jobs for their citizens, and to encourage consumption of material produced within the country. At times like this the free market system is suddenly an inconvenience. We are already seeing this in the United States with the ‘Buy American’ clause in President Obama’s stimulus package. And the passage of the Bill that restricts the financial markets from hiring foreign workers on H1 B visas.
These are clear signs that we are entering an era of protectionism brought on by the worldwide recession or slow down. Protectionism is likely to become more common as country after country feels the heat. Outsourcing is likely to come under attack for taking jobs out of countries. Getting visas for professionals to do work in other countries will become increasingly difficult. How is the Indian IT services industry to cope with the coming challenges? This is what the session on ‘Vision 2020: India’s strategic position in a connected world’ will strive to address. From lowered costs and added value, to a mix of inshore and offshore processes, the response of the industry will have to be creative, and transcend the obstacles that we will face.
A key reason for success in future will continue to be the level of connectivity we have with our markets. After all, connectivity was the key to the growth and success of Indian outsourcing with offshore development centres. But is India prepared for a future where the quality and capacity of connectivity, both domestic and international, will be a key driver of the industry? Unfortunately not, with the country dropping five places last year on the World Bank’s Networked Readiness Index- is a measure of a nation’s ability to use ICTs for economic growth. While the government continues to focus on tele-density and pays scant attention to the development of data networks and the Internet. Clearly, part of the Vision for the IT industry in future must include world class connectivity, both within the country as well as to international markets.
This will be a key determinant in how strategically positioned we are to continue to grow our share of the IT services market worldwide.