Tuesday, July 11, 2006

GSLV & Agni failure due to IT Boom... Ridiculous.

The last 48 hours must have been a painful one to Mr President Abdul Kalam, whose penchant for rocket science is well known, as much as to the millions of Indians who associate India's travails and successes in missile and space technology as being symbolic of the emergence of India as a modern vibrant, dynamic and forward progressing state among the comity of nations. The double whammy that Indian technological hubs received with the failure of Agni III, the long range ballistic missile followed by the failure of the 256 crore Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and the INSAT 4C payload has indeed cast shadow on the string of 16 successful launches India has had till date.

While debates have begun with a section of Indians arguing that we need to take the failure in our stride and not read too much into it, there are groups of people who say the failures have seriously dented India's and Indian Space Research Organization's (ISRO) credibility of being a low cost, reliable space cargo delivery firm. They are quick to point out the losses suffered by TV channels like Kairali, Times Now and other Direct To Home (DTH) operators who had booked transponders on board the INSAT 4C to enhance their reachability.

However the funniest argument was the one I found on IndiaDaily.com whose editorial smacked the failure and attributed it to the diverting of all engineering talent to cheap outsourcing and software body shopping firms from the West. To quote from them

"Agni III and INSAT 4C failure - instead of diverting all talents to outsourcing projects of the Western nations India should focus on engineering and technology. It is a good lesson for the Indian Government thinking only about foreign exchange earnings and foreign direct investment from outsourcing. India has diverted most of its engineering and technology talents to MBA schools, call centers, data operations and simple low revenue application software development that requires hardly high school level of competency. In the mean time Indian technology has gone nowhere.

In India 99.99% engineers end up working for software body shops servicing American and European companies. The rest 90% of 0.01% left goes abroad to enhance western science and technology programs. Whatever is left out work for premiere agencies like DRDO and ISRO.

India has become a servant nation after deviating from its original course in mid eighties after the death of Late PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
Whatever the intentions of the editorial, one thing is certain that the writer has not researched his subject thoroughly. I say this because I personally have about 5 friends who kicked off prestigious job offers from software companies like Oracle and Wipro to join government organizations like ISRO and DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization). These guys were not among the 0.01% of the people left behind after filtering by software and BPO companies. They were crème de la crème of the institution they studied in. 3 among them are rank holders in the college I studied. These institutions are highly valued among the merited students of the country who fall head over heels to secure a job in one of these. If I personally know of 5 of such candidates, I am sure each one you who is reading this will be in a position to recall at least one such candidate to whom a job at ISRO or DRDO or any other such establishment meant the world to them. Even salary wise, these organizations are not mean masters. They do pay entry level salaries to engineers in the range of 20K to 25K pm excluding perks and incentives. Even otherwise patriotism is also a key factor that drives talent to these organizations.

Either the editor has assumed things before penning his opinion or the source of his statistics is horribly wrong. May better sense prevail the next time around.

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