The horrible earthquake in Haiti has left the Carribean island nation devastated, with an estimated 200,000 people dead. I do think the rehabilitation of victims and the subsequent rebuilding of the country could mean an opportunity for India — especially its information technology sector that has global ambitions — to combine urgent humanitarian work with business development.
Do you know that Tata Consultancy Services acquired a company in Chile, or that Wipro has a big base at Monterrey in Mexico? Or that 247customer.com with its origins in Bangalore also works out of Costa Rica? Quietly, Indian IT companies have built their ambitions in the Latin American zone, partly to serve Spanish-speaking markets or to tap new customer bases.
But a key element in this area is that they fall roughly in the same time zone as the United States, India’s biggest software market. A near-zone location is excellent to deal with US-based customers.
India is an aspirant to a seat on the UN Security Council, and, as a member of the G-20 group of elite economies, vying to increase its positive influence across the planet. The US is increasingly looking inward, and I doubt its visa regime that encouraged Indian professionals to work there will ever return to the liberal days of the late 1990s.
However, American companies need Indian IT to save costs and also to help them in conducting efficient research in cutting-edge areas such as nanotechnology and genomics. The emerging trend of cloud computing – under which software and network infrastructure can be offered as a service — is set to drive the demand for data centres and server farms that store network computers.
I think the time is ripe for the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) and the ministries of external affairs and information technology to seize the possibilities in Haiti, which can emerge as a near-zone cloud computing hub to serve the US.
I can envisage a future in which Haiti can host IT parks from where Indian professionals without constricting visa restrictions serve US corporations in the same time zone. As a perk, they can always go to nearby Jamaica to play some cricket on their weekends.