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'Next fiscal, not next 6 months, key to Indian IT'

Wednesday, 12 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
Software industry body Nasscom marginally upped its guidance for India's IT exports to 13-15% for next fiscal from 12-14% last fiscal, expecting revenues of $15-17 billion from the IT and BPO industry. R Chandrashekhar, president, Nasscom, tells Beryl Menezes more. Edited excerpts:

Is there scope for another guidance cut post elections?
Whatever happens even in the most optimistic scenario, six months would elapse before the election process is over and the new government stabilises, so that six months will in any case not witness any big positive change. So, we are more optimistic of the year following, than of the current year, as far as domestic market is concerned. This should explain the somewhat muted domestic market projections. That said, we continue to hope for the best in the domestic market, because the opportunities are so immense that we believe it is imperative for us to actually find a way to realise that potential and unlock that latent demand. This is a role which government, industry and demand-side sectors have to play and Nasscom is trying its best to build collaboration and partnerships to make that happen.

After two years of downturn, the telecom sector has picked up for the IT industry recently, as seen in the third quarter.
The telecom sector has been through a turbulent period of uncertainty, where growth was seriously impacted. But most of those uncertainties have been addressed; especially after the auction is completed, we believe the telecom sector will witness growth, driven by the data revolution that is sweeping the country. This would then translate into significant business opportunities for the IT industry.

Will 4G boost telecom vertical growth for IT companies?
At the moment, 4G will probably get a big boost only when the 700 MHz auctions take place. For the moment, with the 3G and the data revolution that is happening, that itself would drive growth and applications, and prepare the ground for a more fuller, vigorous roll out of 4G.

You have moved from being the secretary of the Department of Telecommunications or DoT to president of Nasscom. How is the transition?
It's very positive change because this is an industry which always has a positive outlook, which is truly global in its outlook and is focused on doing a lot of good things within the country, across social and economic sectors. I think this positive outlook is very refreshing, because there are plenty of people who focus on the negatives in India, but ultimately in order to progress, we need to focus on the positives and work on ways of achieving that.

How different will your role be at Nasscom?
Even when I was in the IT department in the government, my role was on how to encourage and facilitate the growth of the IT industry, so in that sense the role isn't very different from what it is here. But having said, the change now is the industry perspective – an industry which has grown in size and diversity, big and small companies, entrepreneurial, service and product companies, and which also has issues that are global in nature, for which we also have to work with the government. So, some of these perspectives are different from a non-government perspective, but they are not unfamiliar.

What's your view on the US Immigration Bill?
The IT industry in India, both in terms of partnership with individual clients as well as with countries, is focused on partnership mode, where they help them to be competitive and grow simultaneously with India.

This is our main aim to convey that this growth and partnership is at stake – especially since science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) continues to be a serious deficit in most countries, where Indian manpower and industry are and will continue to play a significant role. Difficult at this time to say what the outcome of the Bill will be, but we continue to be both concerned and vigilant.

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