Outstanding questions on outsourcing – a response

James McGovern poses a few outstanding questions on outsourcing. Am not sure what the original set of questions on this topic were, and their responses, but here are my two cents anyway..

  • On which Indian firms actually contribute to open-source projects: One name I can remember is Novell India contributing to the Mono effort. I know this might be viewed as a stray one off case. But the bottom line, as I see it, is this- Every nation/society goes through a phase of growth before it can contribute effectively to any field of human endeavour. As a young nation state India, steeped as it was in the shackles of colonial rule, its myriad religions and an indifferent bureaucracy, is just beginning to awaken to the possibility and growth that western science allows and makes feasible. There is the inevitable price of "learning" the game that India has to pay before it can make any effective and proportionate contribution to open-source software or any other scientific endeavour. We have been in this game for the last 15 years max, give us another 10 and lets re-visit this question.
  • On how to encourage Indian outsourcing firms to give back to open-source efforts: Open source, as I understand it, is an philosophy and a guiding principle on how software is built and distributed. And like all guiding principles adherence has to come automatically, flower out so to speak. Large enterprises can and should actively think and engage such firms and highlighting the benefits of giving back to the community.
  • On which Fortune 500 firms have consciously decided not to outsource: How is this question relevant at all? Will Dell choose to manufacture every nut and bolt itself? Do we all move away from our core competency and dabble in every sundry task that needs doing to accomplish our goal? I do understand how relevant this question is for those who lose their jobs in the western nations but the harsh reality of globalization is this- adapt and move up the value chain. Perhaps in another 10-20 years there will be another nation/region which will do all our jobs faster, cheaper and better. India will have to adapt and move on. There is no point sticking our collective heads in the sand, brooding and wishing away the inevitable.
  • On why few, or even no, books are being written in India: The thought outlined in the first bullet-point applies here. Give this another decade. Just to quote: I manage an offshore engineering team of a .NET based product. When I started on this team around 18 months back the offshore team did around 80% of the maintenance work, this was really mundane bug-fixing and the odd insignificant feature. To maintain motivation and see what benefit such a work had for our careers was a challenge. But we persisted and now we do around 90% of the engineering work, two of the resources have matured enough to gain the trust of our NY, USA based architect and have approval authority for crucial chunks of the product's framework.
  • On whether outsourcing firms discriminate on the basis of caste: In my little and humble experience I have interviewed over 500+ people and not once, emphasis here, not once has the question of caste even occurred. The only caste and religion that I carry to work is .NET. That said I am secular enough to dabble occasionally in the Java camp. Thats said how many developers have you actually spoken and seen James? I have heard that Wipro Bangalore has around 10,000 employees, am sure you would not have had the opportunity to know about a fraction of that number. And we are talking just one company, in one city that has a IT focus! From what I know no IT company in India profiles its employees on caste…what matters is whether one can contribute at any level to the software value chain…the rest is irrelvant.
  • On why there are not 20% muslims in IT: What a daft question this one!!?? Could I ask what is the % of hispanics/coloured people in IT in the US? Or in sciences or arts or whatever? And lets not get started on the treatment of minorities etc…
  • On why no hispanics are employed by Indian IT firms: Since when was employing a hispanic a measure of companies Internationalization?!!

James, for all the terrific viewpoints that you share with the online community, you have diaplayed how small and provincial your value system actually is…lets meet sometime, perhaps we could discuss the contribution of nations/societies to the good of the human race.


  1. I think you are somewhat guilty of “reading into” instead of “reading” my questions for what they are. Simply looking for metrics on demographics. Nothing more, nothing less.

  2. I doubt it if James knows anything about how outsourcing really works. Instead of making baseless assumptions and false accusations through rhetorical questions, it would be advisable for him to do some research first. That I guess, is something he really lacks – research.

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