Ex-Infosys CFO finds Indian IT industry scalable

Chennai: Days after Capgemini's India chief executive, Srinivas Kandula, said a majority of Indian software engineers were incapable of imbibing the required emerging skill sets to survive the changing scenario in the information technology sector, an industry veteran, T V Mohandas Pai, has dismissed the claim and expressed confidence in the abilities of the Indian workforce.

The comment from Pai comes at a time when the IT industry is staring at job losses due to increasing use of artificial intelligence by clients, rendering many engineers jobless. According to Pai, the Indian IT industry's growth in the next two years will be in the region of 7-9 per cent ($11 billion to $13 billion) per year at best.

Pai dismissed some reports that suggested that 65 per cent of IT employees in India are not trainable. "It is very wrong to say 60-65 per cent Indian IT cannot be re-trained. It's a very wrong statement. In Indian IT industry, the average age is 27 years," he said.

"If people of 27-30 cannot be re-trained, then people of 45 cannot be re-trained. In Germany and the US, the average age is 40-plus. India succeeds because we have a group of people who are young and who can be trained. Training them in cloud or big data or anything else is not a complex thing. They can be easily trained," Pai said.

He was of the view that the syllabus in engineering colleges needs an overhaul. "We need a change in the model where faculty can change the syllabus based upon what is current. We need larger number of autonomous institutions and in those autonomous institutions and universities, faculty should be able to change the syllabus faster," he felt.

In globally renowned universities, the faculty changes the syllabus fast. They don't wait for the government to come and tell them what to do. "That's why top 500 engineering colleges should get their autonomy. They cannot have the same standards as the bottom 500. Now, everybody has to follow the same thing, which is ridiculous," he said.

Business models of e-tailers in India are not just running out of steam but even have not worked, says IT industry veteran Pai. "E-tailers will have large problems because their model is running out of steam. The model has not worked. So, people are reluctant to give them money. They got a challenge. They got to work it out. It's going to be a tough year," former chief financial officer of Infosys Ltd, Pai said.


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