Reality Check India

Paging Kiran Karnik ! Realitycheck is here

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on November 29, 2006

Unemployable students


Kiran Karnik is the president of NASSCOM, which is the premier body that represents the Indian IT Software Services companies.He recently slammed the students for their unemployability by IT service companies.

Check out this quote (source TOI):

The only team work our students know of is when they play cricket or football,”he added. Karnik said most companies had to spend a lot of time training fresh graduates.

Reality Check for Mr Karnik

Please dont ridicule our students in this manner. Trained or not, well groomed or shabby, articulate or babbling, they are the footsoldiers of the India IT story. He points to a lack of presentation skills, technical knowledge, and other soft skills. He should first ask himself if the Indian IT industry really requires these skills from the average Joe Schmoe coder. If not, that explains why these skills do not exist. Where is the requirement for folks with presentation skills when most of them just need to be able to communicate enough to get their work done ?

The massive IT Czars are in reality mere giant human resource management companies. The average Mr Suresh Palanivel from KKRR College, shipped to an unknown country on a dubious visa, to nervously perform work on some Fortune 50s graying mainframes is the unsung hero of the Indian IT industry. The IT industry to a large extent counts on getting a cut out of Mr Palanivels hourly billing.  Let us not lose perspective of this.

Do not ignore 3 year BA / BSc / BCom students

Mr Karnik should instead introspect and figure out the true nature of the work performed by the IT industry and the employee profile it requires.  If a Civil Engineer can work on an reporting program – then so can a literature, physics, literature, or arts student. I dont think systems like SAP, Peoplesoft, mainframes, QA, and even development is outside the reach of BA/BSc/BCom students. 

By ignoring the BA/BSc programs – the IT industry has itself contributed to the crisis. The educational entrepreneurs have just fulfilled what they see is a gap. This is economics at work. The IT industry went “Hey gives us a 4 year BE dude – even if he is not good. We just want the B.E  letters. Do you hear ?”. The educational entrepreneurs went, “Cool – here you go “.

There are thousands of jobless people from 3 year programs, who are equally capable. What makes the IT industry think that a BA or BSc or BCA from Loyola or Vivekananda cannot participate in the IT dance. Surely, there must be a reason for the aversion to the three year degrees.

Yes, there is a big reason why the IT folks are anti-three year degree grads. Read on.  

Since the IT industry is heavily dependent on visa regimes of various countries (I know!), the BA/BSc/BCom students are seriously affected. Getting a visa such as a H1 B1 or Europe Shengen is very difficult and in some cases (H1) impossible for a person with only a 3 year degree.  This is it baby. There is no other reason. I know this sounds silly, but in my view and talking to many folks this is it.

The HRD must immediately convert all BA/BSc/BCom into 4 year program – with sufficient electives to help them choose careers in the IT field. Adapt with the times.

These are the kinds of policies that count on the ground.

The never ending holiday

Karnik should really argue for the withdrawal of all IT Tax Benefits, especially for the large IT companies.  Maybe the government can use the billions of dollars to upgrade the labs of its colleges or provide grants to private colleges. Cool idea, huh ?

Currently, Infosys, TCS and Wipro come in the top 16-17 companies globally in terms of market capitalisation. We are growing three times faster than our foreign counterparts, so in the next 2-3 years, the difference will be very less, we will be in the league of top 10 companies

Nice. If someone could answer the following questions ?

  • Does the above fit the  profile of a industry in its infancy ?
  • Are they involved in work that requires massive investments in research and development ? They just keey huge cash reserves or invest in so called “land banks”.
  • If tax holidays are withdrawn to them, where is the data to show that the growth of these industries will be impacted ? Sure there will be lower margins, but will it impact their growth.

No more holidays ! Contribute to the nation instead of building enclaves for yourself.


11 Responses

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  1. Barbarindian said, on November 29, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    The massive IT Czars are in reality mere giant human resource management companies.

    That’s a great comment, I was discussing exactly the same thing with someone recently. It requires an army of recruiters, HR professionals etc. to recruit at that massive scale in the face of such high turnover rates. Besides, there really is a shortage.

    I don’t see how the shortage can be mitigated without removing the obstacles from the private school sector. In India private schools are regarded as inferior and those who go there are deemed to have paid their way in. This is strange. Perhaps you can explain this in a bit more detail.

    The IT sector can not afford to lose people to other sectors. Think about it, if the IT sectors are given so much breaks, they will be even more competitive in terms of salary compared to other sectors. This is a recipe for disaster.

  2. Reason said, on November 30, 2006 at 6:50 am

    The point about continuing tax breaks for big IT services companies is very valid. I have seen reports of tax breaks being stretched – does all work done by a existing billion dollar IT company in a new building in STP area qualify? It may make sense to continue with tax breaks only for new companies, and have a ceiling (a billion dollars in sales can not deserve any tax break or incentive anymore).

    The indian IT services companies dont have any ‘research’ – the business runs on suresh palanivels from KKRR colleges. so tax breaks on the excuse of ‘research’ wont hold either.

    The point about 3 year grads – that is not entirely true. It is true that four year grads were the norm in the beginning, when body-shopping was the only business (and visa rules..). Now there is a good deal of offshore work. I know that wipro does hire 3-year BSc grads every year and has a program for them to get a degree.

    the companies themselves have a lot to answer for with regards to the technical development/maturity of the engineers they hire. The only way to grow in these companies is to increase the number of people reporting ‘into’ you, and the race for that starts pretty early. This gives no chance for an individual to develop himself technically. and the kind of work done in most projects is a factor as well. So they might want to look into this first before saying grads in India are not employable.

  3. realitycheck said, on December 1, 2006 at 6:01 am

    Yes, Wipro does hire the 3-year grads. If I am not mistaken, they put them through a course via a tie up with BITS – which effectively makes them equal to a 4 year grad. I think in the interim period they pretty much perform the same type of work, side by side with the 4 year grads. Is this understanding correct ?

    What I am saying is, why not convert all BA/BSc/BCOM into 4 year programs like pretty much the rest of the world ? This will remove their disadvantages vis-a-vis the visa rules of western countries upon which our IT revolution is built.

  4. Barbarindian said, on December 1, 2006 at 7:17 pm


    There should be all sorts of choices for folks with different needs. Think about the vast majority who do a BA just because the society wants it that way. I think there should be an option (honors or something) that can make it into a 4 year course for those who want to go the extra mile.

  5. realitycheck said, on December 1, 2006 at 7:32 pm

    Yeah, that option would be fine. I’ll bet most would stay back for another year though.

  6. […] step, is to demystify the IITs themselves and tech education to a large degree. I have argued before about the absolute neglect of the three-year programs (BA, BSc, BCom). Our real universities which […]

  7. tanaya said, on August 16, 2007 at 5:51 am

    why do the software companies stick to B.E students alone inspite of the hr shotage?
    any other reasons?( than visa pros)

  8. andre said, on January 9, 2009 at 3:58 am

    You have to stop talking trash about people that are trying to correct the system. Just because Kiran says that Indian Professionals have very little team work, does not give you the right to immediately talk crap about Kiran. Fact is, the reality is much worse. I work in the US, and when I see fresh faced Indian people, even after a few years, just dont get the concept. THere is a lot more to team work than just presentations. Try to take criticisms constructively.

  9. rc said, on January 9, 2009 at 4:16 am

    How exactly is Karnik trying to correct the system ?

  10. Reuben Mather said, on October 25, 2010 at 2:50 am

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  11. Kshitij said, on August 27, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Please continue with providing alternate solutions as in this case. Would love your views on what has changed since then. Kudos!

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