It was interesting to see the knot finally cut. Couple of product companies have announced formation of iSpirit as a flat organization with central focus to promote software products. This was expected to happen because of both structural and organizational reasons. In the initial days, under the able stewardship of Dewang Mehta with the right clout from large IT players it gained in establishing two important aspects for any community organization. First it diligently brought communication benefit to its members in informing the clients across the globe about Indian software industry and helped in building the India story. Members gained their visibility to tap international markets and ADR’s, and networks to bring Prime Ministers and Kings to their campuses. More significant contribution made by NASSCOM was to successfully argue and obtain from successive governments (both state and central) incentives for asset creation, and tax benefits for its members. Over years NASCCOM had come to represent large a large boys club, especially of software services. To its credit, NASSCOM did make efforts to create sub-platforms for various segments of the IT industry, viz., Engineering Service or Products Forum. Many product companies despite having built successful revenue models found the central platform regrettably inadequate in addressing issues related to setting aside in e-governance or defence issues or continuation of section 10 (a) and 10 (b) tax advantages. While in spurts these organizations legitimized their existence through annual events and policy papers, the need for continuity in focus and articulation was woefully missing.
So with the inevitable happened what would be the expectation from the new platform?. How can it address the issues domestic product companies challenges and assist them from their growth?. Any community organization has to bring legitimacy, transparency and institutional rent seeking benefits to its members. Legitimacy can encompass emerging as the de facto platform to speak for the product companies, and create events and road shows to promote local product companies. Presence of academic institutions do lend some sheen of legacy to the group, more efforts would be required to broad base the acceptance across different interest groups including policy makers, technical institutions including IITs, software product companies and media. More conscientious efforts should be made to present the local gyan and products to the world. If world recognizes the high quality of innovations from India and rejoices the creativity by terming it jugaad, all efforts must be made to showcase the fine quality minds, applications and resource balancing behind the Jugaad. Annual product forum road shows did little to build India’s product hegemony like what TED did. Community organizations can sustain their founding zeal and mission realized only if transparency is maintained in choosing who run it, how effectively they run and how they seek inputs to run better. iSpirit with its flat organizational structure and less of “Delhi-centric” syndrome shall benefit the product ecosystem. The acid test would be how effectively the product playgrounds: Bangalore, Pune, Chennai would integrate and own the movement. On the institutional rent seeking the agency must promote and ensure market making opportunities such as 1) seek mandate for “set aside” in government projects (both defence and e-governance), 2) export promotion (push domestic products in EXIM bank and other instruments for bilateral trade and grants), and 3) preferential investment (from CGSTME, INSPIRE and other loan and grant mechanisms). All these are the very activities which many in the forum believe as a benchmark model to pursue Israel Association of Electronics and Software Industries (IAESI). Finally, as Martin Luther King summed up..”Everything that is done in the world is done by hope”.
T R Madan Mohan