India's information technology industry is set to close the current financial year with $75 billion in revenues — of which as much as $60 billion will be in exports, according to the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom). What's more, the association expects 16 to 18% growth in the new fiscal year.
The number of jobs added by the IT and IT-enabled services industries in the current year is estimated at 2,40,000 and a similar number is expected in the new fiscal year starting later this week.
Now, consider the fact that this is not a ‘normal’ period for the industry. The US economy, the biggest provider of demand for Indian companies such as Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro is still struggling with its recovery amid talk of a spike in crude prices, an earthquake in Japan and debt troubles across Europe.
Nasscom president Som Mittal is right when he talks of the significance of the expected growth in the new fiscal year on the high revenue base.
It is a time for celebration as well as sobriety in the IT industry.
There is cause for celebration, because the industry has proved naysayers wrong. From facing pejorative remarks like ‘cyber coolies’ to a situation where high-end consulting is as much as a part of the work as cheap coding, the IT industry has proved right an old saying, “For everything you say about India, the opposite is also true.”
Sobriety is also in order, because the IT industry cannot any longer expect the government to pamper it with tax incentives. Cribbing about the minimum alternate tax and the impending ‘sunset’ of the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) makes Nasscom look like its whining counterparts in old economy industries — whereas one would expect it to show more class.
IT firms are whining about the proposal to levy MAT on companies in the special economic zones (SEZs). At the same time, its tycoons like Azim Premji are joining the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in giving back to society through charity.
As the country winds up a financial year after a week that saw an Indian visit by Buffett, it is time for the IT industry to take up the next challenge —- and that is to use its immense technological and financial prowess to bridge the ‘governance deficit’ that is erupting in the form of corruption scandals. Big boys can do better than crib long after they have grown up.