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Devang Mehta, and not Rajiv Gandhi is the real father of Indian IT Outsourcing Industry

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Dewang Mehta was the man Indian IT Industry must thank. A Chartered Accountant, we can never imagine where his path took him along with lives of millions of people and fortunes of a country. He set up NASSCOM in 1991 and marketed Indian IT Outsourcing Industry to US. That was the time when West had got aware of issues arising from Y2K bug. This was the first time Indian went all around the world convincing global giants that Indian techies are best placed to fix this issue. This is how the Indian IT Outsourcing Industry was born.

VSNL launched internet services in 1995. That was the era of high cost slow speed data. It was Dewang Mehta and NASSCOM who gave VSNL the opportunity and platform to VSNL to showcase its capabilities. It was 1996 NASSCOM Meet at Nehru Centre, in the then Bombay, now rechristened to Mumbai.

Dewang Mehta approached India’s “Telecom Man” and “Father of Internet & Data Services in India” and the Chairman and Managing Director of VSNL – Brijendra K. Syngal. Mr. Syngal reminiscences in his book “Telecom Man” that Dewang Mehta approached him and said: “Mr Syngal, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. We need to demonstrate what the internet is all about. Can you get a couple of 2 mbps lines into Nehru Centre?” Thats how VSNL got a platform to present its services to India, when it took a booth at the Nehru Centre where VSNL gave live demonstrations of downloads. Mr. Syngal remembers that “the excitement among the young people was tremendous. There would be a stampede every day.” There was tremendous euphoria in the youth. Since then VSNL never looked back and continued to provide wider connectivity as the market kept on expanding exponentially.

Besides a dream for the software industry, Dewang Mehta had a blueprint for the IT industry and how it could be used effectively to change the lives of India’s teeming millions. He wanted the benefits of IT to make its way down to the grassroots levels and his favourite slogan was “roti, kapda, makan, bijli aur bandwidth”. This epitomised the needs of the emerging, 21st century Indian, and he had the foresight before turn of the millennium on how IT and internet would change lives of people and future of the nation. Promoting internet also set stage for rapid growth of IT Outsourcing Industry. Could anyone believe that a US$ 100 mn revenue industry would grow to become a US$ 50 bn revenue industry in two decades? That was the hardwork and vision of ONE man.

Today, when Congressis and Liberals keep screaming and wrongfully crediting Rajiv Gandhi for “bringing computers to India” to “creating Indian IT Industry” I am extremely pained. It is extremely important to bring these facts in public domain and educate the massed about the truth of who made Bangalore the Silicone Valley of India and created Indian IT Outsourcing Industry, that gives employment to millions today. Stealing credit for hardwork and vision of Dewang Mehta and appropriating it to Rajiv Gandhi must be condemned by all.

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