September 21, 2005


The Chinese are here. Should Bangalore be concerned?

EDISON THOMAS Times News Network

IF techies in Bangalore have been taking it easy on the top of the IT world, it’s time they are reminded that uneasy rests the head that wears the crown. Going by recent developments in the last week, speculation is rife that the Chinese are not going to take too long to pip India at the IT post.
   Speaking in Chinese and making sense with a help of a translator, a Chinese official on a visit to India, last week, said, “We may not speak English, but our generation next does. In fact English is a compulsory second language in schools, and a large number of our students have even opted for it as a first language. English is not a problem.”
   That was enough to start alarm bells ringing. And, all those who thought that China was a decade away before they caught up with our Silicon City, formed creases on their brows. “We thought that by the time they get to where we are now, in 10 years time, we’ll be 20 years ahead, but going by the frenetic pace in which the Chinese are gathering themselves, we better think again,” says software engineer Rajiv Nair.
   To top this fear, a class of 26 Chinese students recently sat through a 72-hour long English lesson. Albeit for a record, but they sat through it all the same. And note, it was an English lesson, not Chinese.
   Their determination too is evident as they succeeded in breaking the previous record, held by a Polish school, of 66 hours.”
   Changes in the Chinese IT Industry have been phenomenal. According to reports, “The country is making remarkable improvement in increasing English-speaking software engineers to sustain IT offshoring projects. The Chinese government has also been making serious efforts to attract investors and widen its revenue from the IT sector. The transformation has been termed as the ‘Changing face of China’.” Says software developer, Prashant K, “The growth has left the leading IT outsourcing giants and the government of India tense.”
   And, going by the earnestness of a Chinese delegation visiting Bangalore last week, it would do well for IT czars in the city to take stock as they were here with a single objective — to learn how Bangalore and India made it in IT and teach the same to their countrymen. They are looking for the success formula. Only, they don’t want to do it in 20 years, but in five. “This definitely is cause for concern,” says Madhava V, VP engineering of an MNC company doing business in China. “The Chinese are an earnest and determined lot. Top that with the excellent infrastructure in their country, which is streets ahead of ours, and we have enough reason to worry. It won’t take them long to get better than us, because they have the base to support that kind of growth,” he says. If at all there’s any consolation for our laid back city, it is in the statement of university student Xie, who sat through the marathon English lesson. She said, “I can’t remember anything, even though it was just said several seconds ago. I will never do this again.” But, the Chinese IT race is not for mere records.

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