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Is Greek crisis an opportunity for Indian IT?

india Updated: Nov 07, 2011 01:19 IST
N Madhavan
N Madhavan
Hindustan Times
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As a great drama unfolds in Greece to resolve its economic crisis - and that of Europe -some interesting options emerge for India.

Last week, it was a significant moment when finance minister Pranab Mukherjee signalled that India could possibly help in a joint effort to rescue the European Union whose economy is threatened by the prospect of a sovereign default by Greece.

Seriously, India is not rich enough to extend big funds for Greece or Europe but there are things India could do to strengthen its options - and also seek new business opportunities.

One of Europe's peculiar needs is for high-quality, high-skilled immigration or high-technology services. And yet, India's IT industry often faces strange difficulties in the continent. Visa regulations are tough, the weather in the northern parts is cold and opposition to immigration from local populations are often a big irritant.

However, Greece could be an exceptional corner. Situated in the southeastern tip of Europe, it can serve as a gateway to both Europe and the emerging economies of North Africa after this year's Arab Spring. Egypt's democratic revolution this year was aided by Facebook and the Internet - and the emergence of an open society is always good for IT and therefore, for India.

Greece itself is an economy that thrives on tourism, shipping and other old economy industries, not high technology. Now, what if India takes up bilateral steps to negotiate with Greece and build private enterprises with Indian IT workers? India could do with near-shore facilities to serve European customers and warm, sunny Greece could be a strategic location.

What India needs to negotiate is a complex package of bilateral and multilateral measures that could combine investment opportunities and government aid in exchange for easier visa and immigration rules. Indian-built technology parks, training facilities and IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) centres could serve all of Europe and North Africa and West Asia.

Sounds like a dream? It could be, but plans begin as dreams.