Winners and Losers
part 1 2 3 4
The Changing Face of India
by Nigel Cassidy, BBC Current Affairs
I'm standing on the roof of a computer company. I'm looking out over a hillside. It's full of trees, film studios and large white painted houses in their own grounds. It may look like the Hollywood hills. But we're actually 8000 miles from North America. Welcome to the Jubilee Hills, the smart end of the bustling city of Hyderabad in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Now we all know about India's call centers in places like this, but things are moving on fast. I'm meeting some other new wave of Indian computer and business types who are coming back to their homeland after years in the United States or overseas. People like Nareen Iyer here, managing director of Globe Arena, a computer learning company. They not only put American university courses online, so students can study them all over the world, they now devise and write the actual coursework to order. So what lesson did he learn for himself in the United States?
"I think we have this social leftist kind of a hang-up," says Iyer. "And we pretend that money is not important. But money is the most important thing. It can buy most things in life. Most things. Not everything. The second thing is they're absolutely ruthless in terms of taking hard decisions in business. You and I may be working together and you may be my boss and we may be partying and golfing yesterday. Today, it will take nothing for you to come into my office and say 'Nareen, bad luck. You're not required anymore by the organization. Let's continue to play golf, but we can't work together.' I mean, Americans can look you in the eye and say that."
"And Indians?" I ask.
"Indians would never say that," says Iyer with a laugh. "Indians would give up the business for friendship."
"Now of course, there are another billion people in this country who are not enjoying this kind of new success and new wealth. Do you think it will trickle through to very many in the near future?" I ask.
Yes, absolutely," replies Iyer. "It's already doing that. For example, we were selling off our TV and refrigerator. So we put up a notice outside our apartment saying that 'refrigerator and TV for sale.' My maid came and said that 'I would like to buy that.' And that is something unimaginable in India a few years back. So the middle class wealth is increasing, consumerism is increasing. And for every company that sets up office, there are 1,000 jobs of service industry that's created: people catering to the employees who are eating their lunch, people who are providing Xerox copies for office stationary. A whole lot of work gets created."
Hyderabad has a big hand in the design of the next generation of mobile phones.
I've come to another go-ahead company founded by a returning Indian entrepreneur. In fact, he's been so successful, he sold it for millions of rupees to ATI technologies of Canada. What I find extraordinary about this company isn't so much its continuing success or its rapid rate of growth.
It's the fact that its founder, Dersorada Gudei came from a desperately poor farming family and had never set eyes on a computer until he was 19 years old.
"I actually grew up in a small village called Maturan," says Agudeay. "I was the first engineering graduate from my village. My parents are farming. My mother has no education. To go to school, we had to walk five miles everyday up and five miles back. We had to study in front of candle lights or something like that."
"And for those who are still living in places like your former home," I ask, "do you think they celebrate the success of people like yourself, or do you think they resent it a bit?"
"They're very happy with my success," says Aguday. "And somehow, I want to go back and help them also."
Continue to part 4