July / August  2006




August/September Contents 

Sufis - wisdom against

 Sufi poet saints

 50 years of mountain

 Interviews with:
 Ajaz Anwar
Iqbal Hussain
Kamil Mumtaz

 Heritage cities:
 Taxila Dharmrajika
 Bhera - Part I
Bhera - Part II


Cotton - the fibre of

Cotton textiles of
 South Asia

 Handlooms & Dyes

 Hiran Minar


 Lahore Gymkhana

 B2B - Part I

B2B - Part II

Optical Networks I
Optical Networks II

Role of Internet in
 S Asian development

Technology and
 investment in US
 stock markets

Security & Trust in
 Internet banking

 Telecom & software
 - trends & future in
 South Asia

China & India - major
 players by 2025

Pakistan - IT Markets
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV









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Telecom & Software - Trends & Future in South Asia


Salman Minhas

 First published in December 2001

Software Seeds are sown

In 1975 ,  India and Pakistan started the introduction of Computers , with IBM Mainframes [ 360 DOS and card based data entry ] making their appearance in Banks [ in Pakistan Habib Bank, United Bank, and Pakistan Airlines - PIA ] and Universities [ Islamabad ]. Indian Institutes of Technology [ I IT] at Kanpur Kharagpur , Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta installed Digital Equipment Corporation
 [ DEC] PDP mini-computers  [with UNIX operating system and C- language] basing themselves on the U.S. Universities model.

The I IT computers and networks were to become the germinating grounds . The seeds were  Indian Software engineers who later on were to go primarily to the U.S. [ Silicon Valley - California ] overseas and within India and create what is today the  major Software power houses of the the U.S. and Indian Information Technology Industry.

Names of entrepreneurs such as Narayana Murthy [Infosys Technologies] , Aziz Premji [ WIPRO] , Vinod Khosla [Sun ; Kleiner Perkins & Caufield Byers] , Kanwal Rekhi [Novell] , Gururaj Deshpande [Ascend, Sycamore Networks],  Atiq Raza [Nexgen, AMD, Raza Foundries] , Safi Qureshy[AST Computers] are an inspiration to an entire generation of young South Asians engineers in the Information Technology Industry. The Chinese and the Pakistanis entrepreneurs are visiting Bangalore these days to understand the business model that has resulted in India’s growth as a major Software power with annual exports at  US $ 5 Billion .  

In 1975, in Pakistan,  a bureaucratic decision was taken to stop the import of Computers as they used up valuable Foreign Exchange. At the same time, in India, IBM pulled out of operations when the Indian Government demanded a transfer of technology. This early withdrawal led WIPRO to start the manufacture of PC’s with Tata taking up the servicing of the existing IBM customer base in India .The Pakistani system and software engineers went to the Oil booming markets in the Middle -East and the Indian engineers continued to grow in numbers, spreading into U.S. and India.

It can be said that the lack of understanding of Software by the Indian government bureaucrats helped in the development of the software industry in India. In Pakistan, a lack of vision in education investment in general and specifically software and computer sciences was responsible for the slow growth of the software industry.

There are many stories which will be chronicled in this rise of India [and the belated waking up of Pakistan , Sri Lanka and other south Asian countries] as a small but increasingly important player in the world Information technology industry. India & Ireland with $ 5 billion in software exports each comprise 2 % of the world software market. Ireland  with a much smaller population and India with about a billion people.

Yet the stories of Indian entrepreneurs have one thing in common - super-human pioneering work by individuals struggling against the cultural bias of western countries and surmounting immense financial and bureaucratic and industry competitive challenges. Below  are a few stories of the heavy weights  from India and Pakistan. More stories will be be added in  later issues of The South -Asian. But before we begin a few words on the Sad Saga of Telecoms in South Asia.    





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