Coverage by Bhat Dittakavi of TiE Hyderabad on the “Maverick Mindset” fireside chat on 13th December at Novotel Hyderabad

Mavericks are who have that vision and take the walk on the fire if the need be to reach there. Mavericks happen once a few decades but they turn the page for the century. Harish Mehta is a revelation to the audience on how his decisions in 1990s paved the golden era for India.

Krishnan Ramanujan, President, Enterprise Growth Business at Tata Consultancy Services, Chairman of NASSCOM

Harish S. Mehta: Founder and Executive Chairman of Onward Technologies Ltd, Founder of NASSCOM

Life time achievement award winner. Brought TiE to India. A visionary who predicted software revolution in India. Established NASSCOM for global relations and inclusion. Three core principles of NASSCOM: 1) No personal agenda 2) Collaborate and compete 3) Growth Mindset

NASSCOM: Proved fierce competitors can come together for greater good. Proved industry associations can work transparently with the government without compromising the ethics. Changed the perception of india across the globe and created employment opportunities for the under served.

Krishnan: $270B size of IT industry is what NASSCOM represents. Based on what I recall, estimated contribution to economy by Startups will be $200B by 2027. I couldn’t be more bullish. We have a country on the hurry with supportive government. Digital India Mission is phenomenal. Inclusive rural and healthcare too. Given the global opportunity and the rural Sinai mission serves as a huge Phillip to the startup community in India.

Maverick Effect is a revetting read.

Krishnan: Maverick is out of the ordinary. Your life is unconventional and unorthodox. Coder to films to true calling in entrepreneurship. What does maverick mindset mean to you?

Harish: In 1991 we had mortgaged our gold to Bank of England. We were known as fakir’s country. In 30 years we are global tech country. How? Is that 1991 reforms? Y2K? My view is the maverick minder of Indian IT industry that worked collaboratively through NASSCOM on keeping India first. 15 years ago, PMO office took Pharma and IT delegation to Russia. Mittal, then NASSCOM president, looked around found Chandra, now Tata Chairman, asked him to talk about the competitors. He said without a blink he would be happy to do it for India. That’s how it is.

Krishnan: Concept of collaboration among competitors in India. Coopetition!

Harish: MNC were not allowed to do 100% business in India. They wanted 100% ownership in the back office business they wanted 100% ownership of Indian business. At NASSCOM, some one argued, why not? We would learn a lot from them. Some argued that they may rob our nation by backfiring us. Someone questioned, who developed human capital of India? We said let MNCs come do it in India. We asked the Indian consulting giants and all of them agreed. We went to ministry of finance. The first question they asked whether are we bringing East India company back! Finance ministry agreed after our conviction.

China wanted to create IT services business after seeing India. They approached John McCarthy. He told them to create first NASSCOM equivalent in China to do it. NASSCOM enabled the competitors give up the short term gains for long term benefit

Krishnan: When Satyam issue was the greatest challenge, on a hindsight NASSCOM salvaged India’s pride when you were in the think of affairs at NASSCOM.

Harish: When Raju of Satyam wrote that letter, our first reaction was “it is a company issue and auditors and shareholders have to worry”. Then the argument came “If Satyam collapses, what happens to their fortune clients and if it hurts brand India?” We met minister of corporate offices and ministers said “why should we step in as it was Satyam’s to handle”. Then they understood our logic. PM talked to SEBi and the decision made to take over the company and government never made decision like this never before. When the news was out, competitors were excited to grab Satyam’s business. We wanted to save Satyam for 2 months before the government takes over. Then we, CEOs of IT bigs, made a call “not to proactively hire the management of Satyam and will not pro-actively target Satyam’s client. Coopetition! NASCOM played critical role in controlling the situation. Nowhere in the world such a case study exists. That was the finest hour of NASSCOM

Krishnan: How about entrepreneurship? Opportunity for technology led Startups? Lessons for them?

Harish: India is an unstoppable engine. Collectively we work on few challenges to make sure this happens. CEOs of NASSCOM spent 10% of the time for the country. Startup industry shall replicate that mindset

Krishnan: India is the biggest source of talent with supportive VC community and future for a india couldn’t be brighter.

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