On the 9th of December I met with Debian developer Ganesan Rajagopal and aspiring DD Chirag Kantharia in a Bangalore cafe. Later we went to the “Coffee House” on M.G. Road, I recommend that place for a coffee and a Masala Dosa.
Months ago I was quite excited about the idea of a place-to-be silicon valley on my Eastern trip itinerary. After meeting some geeks in Islamabad I was not very optimistic. People were not familiar with Unix or any Web specs. All they seemed to “know” were their ripped-off high level tools like whatever crap M$ shoots out.
Of course I should not generalise, esp. after meeting Ganesan and Chirag and hearing that India is (unlike Pakistan) teaching about Linux at schools in India and even India’s rocket scientist President knows about it. :)
The main problem why there are only what… 3 Debian people in enormous India is because you need time to become a Unix pundit and a good network connection at home. Debian simply isn’t fun otherwise. I heard that Red Hat or Fedora has gained a lot of mind share by being distributed by a popular computer magazine.
So what is the makeup of the IT businesses here in Bangalore I asked Ganesan.
They are four categories, roughly ordered by amounts of people they employ:
- BPO companies that do services like payroll, call centres, stock research and transcriptions (e.g. medical notes from a dictation device)
- Huge software service companies like Infosys, WIPRO, Satyam and TCS
- Product development setups by foreign companies like Microsoft or Google
- India’s own private and public companies like Iflex and Talisman
My travelling companion applied and is being interviewed for a job in Bangalore with Aditi. I applied for a job with Google for a System Administrator, Intermediate Level job. Of course I was confident knowing I am a computer demi-god, but sadly I got the automated do-not-reply-to-this-email rejection email from Google saying my skills do not strongly match the position. Oh pleasie. :/
Ok, less personal crap. Let me try write down some more tit bits from what I learnt.
People view call centre jobs as respectable jobs. Although telesales is well… SPAM. Particularly painful when you have to pay for incoming calls!
Infrastructure in Bangalore is dissapointing. Traffic is a nightmare. You really need to live close to your work. The IT developments are just office buildings. Not usually entirely funded by government. I was told of substantial Singapore investment. They do not even provide UPS and Internet. These things typically need to be handled by each individual company there.
My peers seem to earn less than 1000 EUR (after tax) a month here. And that’s for the better jobs.
I met on the 10th of December two German employees of Siemens working in Bangalore at the very expensive F-bar (Spin club recommended instead).
Some interesting things:
- Education level is supposingly western level but it is not.
- People need a lot more management here.
- There are no “superheroes” here. No outstanding talent.
- On average employees are much younger here and as a result far less experienced than European counterparts.
- People are more “humble” and as a result are very slow or reluctant to tell project managers about problems.
- People work really long hours here. (What ever happened to the XP 40 hour week?)
I asked what the two Germans were earning. They said they were getting the same in Germany plus benefits like accomodation, a maid, a driver and car and more. I asked if they would work (like my friend and I are prepared to) for 1k EUR a month and they said no.
I’ll probably come back and edit this, as I am typing this up in a sweltering Internet cafe in Madras.
To conclude, from what I have seen, I don’t think I would personally invest in Indian IT unlike my parents did with textiles. My gut feeling right now is the jobs done here are the ugly inefficient “big company” jobs. I hate to sound pretentious about my expertise, but from what little (two days!) I have seen I think that the India IT industry is really far behind the cutting and creative edge I was looking for.
Reader if your home enviroment is cool, clean, quiet, using a stable machine, using Debian, IBM keyboard and a good fast stable Internet connection, you have the advantage. ;)