"NASSCOM has been lauded for many outstanding achievements and recognised for many initiatives. It was during a visit to San Jose, seven years back that I discovered just how profound an impact NASSCOM has had on the pride of Indians and what an enormous responsibility it has shouldered."
My taxi driver was a Hindi-speaking Indian. When we chatted, I told him I was part of the Indian software industry. His face lit up immediately. ‘Sir,’ he said, ‘Aapne hume ijjat dilayi hai’ (You have helped us earn respect). ‘Today, when an American sits in my cab, he thinks I am a Ph.D. student doing a part-time job!’
Harish S Mehta is the Chairman and MD of Onward Technologies Limited. Mr Mehta holds an Electrical Engineering degree from Pune College of Engineering and a Master’s in Computer Science from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, NY, USA.
If one has to understand how it was done, it just boils down to three words — beyond personal agenda.From its inception, everyone involved with NASSCOM agreed on some driving principles.
First, it was accepted that decisions would be arrived at by consensus and that everyone would go out of the way to persuade people who had divergent views to agree to come to the highest common ground and speak as a single voice of the industry.
Next, was to put nation and industry before self, not out of some misplaced sense of patriotism, but in everyone’s enlightened self-interest. A simple guideline of not allowing any organisation logo in NASSCOM’s presentations laid the foundation of thinking at an industry level.
This led to committed volunteerism. Everyone got committed to a common cause — pledging effort, time, resources and most importantly, a humungous amount of intellectual capital.
Dewang Mehta stands out for having dedicated his life to the cause. He gave up a promising career to join NASSCOM, and transformed its agenda with his activism, his diplomacy and his almost fanatic belief in the industry. His exemplary contribution was the paraphrased slogan “Roti, kapda, makaan, bijli and bandwidth.” It put technology squarely in the context of national development.
NASSCOM fostered brotherhood in many senses. Members were involved beyond business agendas with regular social meets, even ‘fashion evenings’ where CEOs sashayed down catwalks. This camaraderie allowed candid communication because members interacted at a core human level, removing all barriers of rank, organisation size or fierce competitive spirit. The most brilliant minds of the industry contributed such a generous abundance of ideas that we were never lost for one.
But NASSCOM is nothing more than a trusted catalyst. Successes have come about because of the efforts of everyone in the industry, along with yeoman contributions by a legion of ‘unknown soldiers’– bureaucrats, engineers, analysts, mediapersons and God only knows how many millions of ordinary human beings who made things happen, not only in India but world over.
To replicate NASSCOM, the recipe lies in having a team of committed volunteers, who will contribute beyond a personal agenda, added with a large dose of trust to get conviction and courage.