Written By Adeep Krishna Keelar
“At the stroke of the midnight hour, while the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom…” These were the words of the First Prime Minister as he addressed the citizens of an Independent India, and indeed India was free, free from the tyranny of the British Empire. A lot occurred as the decades passed on, from the first five-year plans to the first railway line opening, to the wars at the borders to the innovation on the agricultural front, yet India was lagging, way behind. With India following the socialistic ideals, with very little development in technology boosted by the high illiteracy rate and agricultural dependence, India remained as an under-developed or a backward nation.
However, it was in the ’80s when a man brought forward a vision, an idea that completely revolutionized India, the vision that saw the exponential rise in the economy. This was the rise of the telecommunication sector which further paved a path for the IT sector, which is the biggest industry in India today. The man behind this was none other than Satyan Pitroda or Sam Pitroda.
Technical advancements in India had a poor start, with very few companies and educational institutes that worked on computation, few computers were available at top institutes such as the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Research and development were slow, however, a network was established between the computers of the research institutes, by 1989 the internet was established in India. However, Government policies were strict, and indigenous computer sales were poor. It took years to import computers! Under the leadership of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her successor Rajiv Gandhi, policies were changed for faster movement of software. This was the time Sam Pitroda, the telecommunication engineer returning from the States decided to help modernize India’s telecommunication system. Frustrated about how hard it was to call his family from Chicago, he returned to India and started the Center for Development of Telematics, C-DOT. With Pitroda’s leadership under the Rajiv Gandhi government, this autonomous telecom R&D organization was responsible for the telecom revolution in rural India bringing an all-around socio-economic development from global connectivity. Telecom switching products suited for Indian conditions appeared all over the country, the technology spreading across the country.
With the Government working to spread telecommunication, several private companies began to see opportunities for expansion with the large amount of data that needed processing. Tata Consultancy Services was the earliest company that entered the field of telecommunication data processing, this was the rise of Information Technology Service Management. Following soon were companies like Hindustan Computers Limited (HCL), Western Indian Palm Refined Oil Limited (WIPRO), Infosys, etc.
Jobs were increasing by the day, more employees were required to work on the increasing amount of data being collected, this saw the rise in the number of jobs which were provided to those who were educated enough, this also led to the improvement in employment and literacy rates. More foreign companies began to form ventures and more data was being stored and looked into, the IT sector began to boom massively.
The economy of India began to rise slowly, with the introduction of the telecommunication sector. It saw more growth and by the late ’90s, the IT sector began to take over by large, thus the revolution was taking over. IT contributed a large amount to the Indian GDP. By 2006, it had contributed over 40% of the total amount, spanning economic and infrastructural growth, quality infrastructure, and money were pumped to the increasing demands. Furthermore, more companies began to develop and thrive in cities and towns, thus developing them from their rural roots to bustling cities with activity. IT also contributed 30% of export earnings. Many cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai, Delhi saw massive growth with a large number of companies opening offices and centres in the cities.
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”
A country of farmers and agriculture, today is the fourth-largest hub of IT and computer services. This was possible because of a vision of a man who wanted to provide change. Development is an integral part of a country’s growth, it has benefited all in the process. A revolution that has improved the status of the country, provided jobs, and educated the youth, that has provided the breakthrough and helped build strong relations and connected the whole world, one can agree, this was the incident that has changed the course of independent and modern India.
Featured Image Courtesy – NDTV