Lord McCauley could never have had it so good. He must be lying in his grave with great satisfaction of seeing a whole new generation of Indians vying to become glorified clerks even fifty years after his fellowmen were forced out from the country they once ruled.
Lord McCauley, a ‘visionary’ of his times had introduced English education back in late nineteenth century in India, to fulfil the needs of clerks for the British Raj. Since then, English has become second nature to almost 1% of the one billion population of India. And now it has opened vistas for English speaking population in jobs like Call Centre, Contact Centres, Remote Billing, Medical Transcription…etc. India is now competing with countries like Ireland and Philippines to become the back office hub of the world.
More and more companies are joining the IT enabled services bandwagon because of the hype surrounding them. GIS has been recognised as an IT enabled service, however, the hype makers and the followers are yet to set their eyes on GIS as an opportunity. This opportunity is different from others in many respects. Firstly, it is ‘English Independent’, so the target is not just the English-speaking markets like US or Europe, but the whole world. This makes it ‘US proof’. While many other IT sectors are feeling the pinch of the slump in the US economy, the GIS services market has largely gone unaffected in India, due to the large opportunities in Asia itself. While other services require training and retraining of young school and college pass outs, the GIS sector is rife with post-graduates in Geology, Geography, Environmental Science and related streams. They can straight away be employed in the GIS sector without much training. Also, these professionals are in a position to take the GIS companies higher up the value chain due to their strong educational background.
Unlike other IT enabled sectors like Medical Transcription and Call Centres, the Indian market potential in GIS is high, if not very high. It is worth around Rs. 300 crore (USD 65 million) already. In spite of all types of hurdles imposed on it from the government it is growing at a rate of more than 50% per annum. The opportunities in this sector will explode and even bypass the growth rates of other IT enabled services, once the shackles are loosened.
But till now, neither the government nor the major IT associations have a strategy for making GIS industry grow in India.
Aren’t we still there where Lord McCauley wanted us to be?