Maverick Effect: The Inside Story of India’s IT Revolution

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The Maverick Effect is, in the words of Infosys founder, NR Narayana Murthy, “a definitive and authoritative biography of Nasscom” – the 34-year-old Indian nonprofit that has done commendable work nurturing and maturing the Indian software industry.

The book is the story of a band of dreamers who came together to transform India, change its image, evolve its model from body-shopping to offshore development. It is agreed that these mavericks have been helped by the opening up of the economy, but they have literally had to cut through the jungles to get better broadband connectivity, the creation of STPs, SEZs, changes to the laws on income tax, customs, excise and income tax.

Harish Mehta, through a series of descriptive incidents, admits that Nasscom’s idea was fraught with challenges, including having to sell the idea, often single-handedly, to software peers, avoiding hardware players who favored a vertical within the MAIT. (Computer Industry Manufacturers Association).

Mehta started out as a database manager in the United States in the mid-1970s, but soon realized he had better make India his karmabhoomi and established a one-man consultancy firm before joining Pravin Gandhi’s Hinditron as a partner. The years in the United States gave him exposure to free enterprise and entrepreneurship. One of his challenges was to explain the value of software to stakeholders – bureaucrats, regulators and elected leaders. How to import or export it? Or tax it?

Tired of explaining what software it was, Harish persuaded 15 influential computer industry peers in Mumbai to form an industry body that could present the interests of the software industry to the government.

The idea was taken up in the other metros thereafter. It took several meetings to convince FC Kohli of the TCS and some key opponents of the idea within MAIT. Nasscom was eventually born with 40 founding members and Harish Mehta was unanimously chosen as the first chairman in 1989.

The author devotes a substantial part of the book to the first decade of Nasscom which coincides with the tenure of its chairman Dewang Mehta. Nasscom and its members, powered by Dewang’s strong analytical and communication skills, made it the de facto voice of the software industry. Government officials sought Nasscom’s advice before making major policy decisions and often accepted it. Harish describes his working chemistry with Dewang far beyond his tenure as Chairman of Nasscom and details how Dewang has excelled in creating events that have attracted CEOs of global software companies.

Nasscom saw its role as changing India’s image from a land of snake charmers to a software development powerhouse. He built the ‘India Inc.’ brand. What helped was that Nasscom in its first 10-12 years was lucky to have the ears of IT Secretary N Vittal, Head of National Center for IT, Dr N Seshagiri, VSNL CMD BK Syngal, Elected Leaders like PA Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Union IT Minister. Pramod Mahajan and the wisdom of IT industry veteran FC Kohli.

Amendments to India’s Computer Act to effectively protect copyright, directives to government departments to use licensed software, establishment of SEZs with import duties and tax benefits, setting up dedicated broadband lease lines at falling prices are among Nasscom’s greatest lobbying achievements.

The author’s prowess in storytelling is evident when he describes his early life at Derasar, the Jain temple that exposed him to the tents of Jainism, the personal ambition to excel in study and work in United States, the ups and downs of his personal life. life, the difficult world of business partnerships, his mentorship of Dewang and the shock of his sudden disappearance.

The book also discusses how Nasscom’s third chairman, Som Mittal, proactively handled the disastrous news of Ramalinga Raju falsifying Satyam’s account books for many years as it could damage the company’s reputation. software industry if Satyam were to halt its operations.

Ultimately, the book leaves the reader on a new high as there is hardly an Indian who has not been touched by the computer revolution which has created millions of jobs in software and software. attendant services, creating a whole new generation of upper-middle-income households in every corner of the country.

(The Examiner has been the guardian of the NIIT and NIIT Technologies brand for two decades, and now advises organizations in building their reputations)

The Maverick Effect: The Inside Story of India’s IT Revolution

By Harish Mehta

Harper Company

₹699; 398pages

Discover the book on Amazon

Published on

April 25, 2022

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