HE saw the dream of witnessing the “M” of the total export turnover of the IT industry converted into “B” and he is proud to reveal that after twenty years, the paltry sum of fifty million dollars worth of IT exports, has been catapulted to the staggering figure of fifty billion dollars. Ashank Desai, one of the doyens of the Indian IT industry had a glitter in his eyes while narrating the success story of the said industry. He passionately went on to state that at present around 2.5 million people are directly employed by IT sector in India and by the year 2020, the figure will grow three to four times of the present one.
Ashank Desai who was born in Goa, lost his father while he was only two years old and the onus of the upbringing of the adolescent, fell on the shoulders of his mother. The family was very much engrossed in the freedom struggle of Goa and apprehending witch-hunting by the Portuguese authorities, shifted to Nagar Haveli – which also at that time was a territory ruled by the Portuguese but got liberated before Goa – where Ashank’s initial schooling was done. He recollected that he had to study for seven years in the schools where mostly adivasi children used to be his schoolmates. After Goa was liberated in the year 1962, the family shifted back and his remaining schooling was done there; later, owing to his sheer hard work in studies, he got enrolment in the prestigious institutes like IIT Mumbai and IIM Ahmadabad.
In the year 1982, with three other partners, Ashank founded the IT company, now globally famous and known as Mastek. Later he was instrumental in co-founding the NASCOM, the guiding force behind the Indian IT industry. During the course of our conversation, he waxed eloquent about the phenomenal achievements of the Indian IT industry. He informed that roughly 40 to 50 per cent white collar jobs at present are being generated by the IT sector and it is contributing an impressive two percentage points in the GDP growth rate. He very proudly asserted that the Indian IT industry has contributed in a long way in changing the international image of our country.
For the future of the IT sector, he very optimistically observed that, the demand for the products, is almost insatiable globally and it all depends on us as up to what extent we can increase our share in the world market. In respect of the Chinese competition in information technology sector, Ashank Desai was confident that despite deep forays by the former, India owing to the large pool of the engineers, will be able to retain an edge over the potential competitors.
Ashank Desai has been involved in many social projects also and the Mastek foundation has been playing very meaningful role in the noble cause of social upliftment. On being asked about what messages he would like to convey to the youth of this nation, he said that first of all, we should have the ability to innovate and take risks. Secondly, he said, the youth must have an ambition to go for a win-win kind of initiatives whereby they can benefit from their endeavours and the people and the groups with whom they deal, also gain from the said initiatives. Thirdly, he opined that, we should not limit the stretch of our imagination to the Indian markets only; the whole of the world should be our target market.
Finally, he exhorted the youth of the nation to participate in other kinds of social activities also; according to him, by doing so, not only the youth will be enhancing their personality development, they will be contributing their share in the noble cause of nation building.