I've been looking at a lot of surveys on the Indian IT and telecom industries. In all or a majority of those, the Indian arms of various MNCs seem to be leading. There is hardly any presence of solid, home-grown Indian companies in any of those lists. Of course, I won't argue on this point for software, as India is a clear global leader.
Recently, a friend asked me on my opinion on these surveys. My answer was simple: it does not reflect India's strength at all! We are praising MNCs sky high! We've always done that and continue doing so! If a global CEO visits India, we in the media go crazy, trying to cover them! However, when a head from say, Ittiam or Quasar or L&T EmSys goes overseas, there's no such media frenzy! Hurts, right?
Two instances. First, CommunicAsia in Singapore, some years ago. No one knew Jataayu! It was the only company from India at that time! Second, couple of years back, in Hong Kong. Again, Jataayu!! Its Europe head was there, but the company hardly attracted the media! Of course, a few foreign journalist friends did meet them, or so, they said.
A third one, and the best one -- this is fairly recent! I interviewed the CEO of one of India's prominent semiconductor companies in the lobby of a prominent hotel in a major city! Hardly anyone turned their head!! And I believe, some press folks were there to attend some press conferences organized by some MNCs!
I've spent a considerable time in the Greater China region and am used to seeing surveys and reports that ONLY feature home-grown companies. So, maybe, it's that bias that I suffer from. However, not only I, but anyone really, really concerned about the well being of the Indian IT and telecom industry would love to see more home grown and bred companies.
Sure, we do not manufacture much! Or is it really the Indian mindset that goes with everything services and against manufacturing!! I recall the early-to-mid 1990s, when I used to cover electronic components for some foreign publications. It was a time when we were, I feel now, quite good in that area. Well, today, I don't see anyone reporting on components, and I include myself in that list. Hope I can change that.
Well, a friend, Sayan, also asked me my opinion regarding the top 10 Indian companies as far as semiconductors are concerned. He probably read the blog or saw the list of the top global semicon companies.
My top 10 Indian semicon companies
Given from what I've seen happen over the last four years or so, I am inclined to put the top 10 Indian companies as follows (in no particular order, though, and irrespective of their current status),
3. Ittiam Systems
8. HCL Technologies
10. Quasar/L&T EmSys
I know many would not agree with this list, and so be it! Also, some of the companies are heavily into the design services domain, and should not even be in this list, but are there, as I don't see many other Indian semiconductor companies about. At least, not yet! Or, I missed them, and if so, my apologies.
SemIndia does not make my list, yet, nor Spel! Indrion is going to be a company to watch, as also IndusEdge. There, I said it! We lack product companies, especially in semiconductors. We are poor in electronics and we have always been weak in hardware. And, we have a problem accepting that!
We can talk a lot about having chip design automation and embedded design, etc. We can talk a lot about being strong in the semiconductor design space. We can also discuss talent shortage and all that! However, the truth is unless Indian companies really get innovative and enter high-end designs, well and truly, we will continue to be an also-ran in the high-tech world. And, we, as a country need to back our own people first!
Sure, the software industry is strongest in the world, and employs a whole lot of people. However, it would be wise for India to not rest on these laurels, if it wishes to move up the semicon value chain! And, for once, let us all support Indian product companies! The Ittiams, eInfochips, SoftJins, MosChips, etc., matter too!