A history of how India became a major player in the global technology industry, mapping technological, economic, and political transformations.
The rise of the Indian information technology industry is a remarkable economic success story. Software and services exports from India amounted to less than $100 million in 1990, and today come close to $100 billion. But, as Dinesh Sharma explains in The Outsourcer, Indian IT's success has a long prehistory; it did not begin with software support, or with American firms' eager recruitment of cheap and plentiful programming labor, or with India's economic liberalization of the 1990s. The foundations of India's IT revolution were laid long ago, even before the country's independence from British rule in 1947, as leading Indian scientists established research institutes that became centers for the development of computer science and technology. The "miracle" of Indian IT is actually a story about the long work of converting skills and knowledge into capital and wealth. With The Outsourcer, Sharma offers the first comprehensive history of the forces that drove India's IT success.
Sharma describes India's early development of computer technology, part of the country's efforts to achieve national self-sufficiency, and shows that excessive state control stifled IT industry growth before economic policy changed in 1991. He traces the rise and fall (and return) of IBM in India and the emergence of pioneering indigenous hardware and software firms. He describes the satellite communication links and state-sponsored, tax-free technology parks that made software-related outsourcing by foreign firms viable, and the tsunami of outsourcing operations at the beginning of the new millennium. It is the convergence of many factors, from the tradition of technical education to the rise of entrepreneurship to advances in communication technology, that have made the spectacular growth of India's IT industry possible.
Dinesh C. Sharma is a journalist and author with thirty years of experience reporting on science, technology, and innovation. William Aspray is Bill and Lewis Suit Professor of Information Technologies in the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the coeditor of Women and Information Technology: Research on Underrepresentation (2006) and The Internet and American Business (2008), both published by the MIT Press. Thomas J. Misa is ERA-Land Grant Professor of the History of Technology at the University of Minnesota, where he directs the Charles Babbage Institute. His books include Modernity and Technology (coedited with Philip Brey and Andrew Feenberg; MIT Press, 2003).