IT as it was...

DQW Bureau
20 Feb 2010
New Update


When I look back to remember my most memorable moments in Indian IT, I would

like to start with my own experience first. For my recruitment test and

interview, I landed up at the small CyberMedia office with thirty people in a

basement in South Delhi. Frankly, that was perhaps the first time I was seeing a

personal computer. I now laugh about it, but the two questions in the test paper

that really stumped me were-'Name five Indian computer companies', and 'Name

five foreign computer companies. The only two Indian names I knew that had made

computers was Hindustan Computers Ltd (now HCL), and Wipro. Amongst the foreign

companies Apple and IBM were known names.

There were no mobile phones so that I could call a friend, though I am sure

none of my friends would have been of any help. Suddenly my eyes fell on a pile

of cardboard boxes. One of them said HP, and another one said Siva Sterling. I

took a chance and added HP to the foreign list, and Sterling to the Indian list.

So instead of five Indian and five foreign computer companies, I was able to

give only three names each. Later I was told I had done well in the test, and

selected. The future editor of Dataquest had been recruited. Except for Sterling

Computers, all others including myself survived.

I must also mention here another incident that remains very fresh in my

memory till date. CSI was the buzzword in those days, and if you were anybody in

the IT industry you knew what it was. Today I will have to expand it for my

readers. Computer Society of India (CSI) was the biggest and the most

high-profile association of IT professionals. Its members were not just industry

executives, but also IT professionals working in enterprises, and the academia

including college students and professors. One day, when I was still a cub

reporter, the receptionist at my office informed that I had guests. When I went

out I saw about five or six people waiting for me. They were professors from the

Computer Department of one of India's premium science and technology college.

They wanted to invite me for the CSI's Annual Conference, because Dataquest was

associated with the event. I thought CSI must be the most prestigious

organization in the world.


What happened to the CSI after that everybody knows. The country's biggest IT

body (it might still be in terms of number of members) is now relegated to

almost an unknown entity, at least amongst in the industry circles. If CSI would

have changed with the needs of time, it could still have been the most important


Another interesting story I can recount is about a very prominent minister in

the UPA Government today, who used to be the Chief Minister of one of India's

most tech savvy states. India's one of the first Software Technology Parks was

being innaugurated, and the minister was the chief guest. The facility was

obviously inside the building, but the eager minsiter started rushing towards

the side lawns of the facility, when somebody informed him that its a ribbon

cutting inside the building. The amused minister remarked, "A software park is

inside the building". Today we have CMs who carry laptops and make powerpoint

PPTs to industrialists and investors.

The last incident I would like to share is again about myself. I was standing

in the long winding queue outside the US Embassy for a visa interview, when a

slightly hassled man in front of me asked me what do I do. I said I work for a

computer magazine, and therefore, will get a visa. When I aksed him the same

question, he replied that he deals in hardware. To pep him up I told him that he

has a good chance too of getting a visa since he deals in information

technology. What hardware was my next question. Brass and steel taps, T joints,

hinges.....the list was long. My jaw dropped, but luckily no one was watching.

Ibrahim ahmad