This is the first of a two part series, the second part focuses on the address by Hon’ble Vice President of India, Shri Hamid Ansari.
It was the 4th of November around 8 O’clock in the evening – a Friday - and many of us were still in office, engrossed in preparation for the inauguration of NASSCOM’s Noida campus the next morning, where the Hon’ble Vice President Shri Hamid Ansari would grace the occasion as the Chief Guest.
Suddenly and without preamble, the National Anthem started playing - a last minute test run being conducted by our IT Head. There were about 15 of us on the floor, and without the slightest bit of hesitation whatsoever, we all stood up from our workstations in rapt attention adhering to the protocol - in unison. It does something to you. It is but a gentle reminder, of who we really are, despite so much of diversity. At NASSCOM we host hundreds of events throughout the year but at the moment it sunk in that this one was going to be very special.
The next morning was a flurry of activities, cops teeming all over and undertaking a thorough combing operation in their characteristic way – strong and silent but not unfriendly men. It was a Saturday morning but we were all in our Sunday best dressing – as our team leader pointed out. At conferences, delegate badges and lanyards add an interesting dimension to human communication. The eye slithers down quickly to belly level of the person in front, and does a hasty read of the name - a single action. Three things happen simultaneously – speed reading, recognition & acknowledgement or the lack of it, and finally an instantaneous decision whether to make eye contact or simply move on, to only repeat this peculiar (but necessary) process with the next person.
In general, the mood was light. There were friends and associates who have been with us for a long time (often more than a decade) and were only too eager to share our pride – inauguration of NASSCOM’s first ever campus in the tech hub of the NCR region. The joie de vivre was infectious, and hung lightly over this momentous occasion to usher in the 100-odd participants – leaders from member companies, the government and NASSCOM employees.
The President of NASSCOM, Mr R. Chandrasekhar, in his Welcome Address remarked that someone had told him earlier in the morning that “NASSCOM finally has a campus which is befitting a 150 billion dollar industry”, which elicited a thunderous applause. The NASSOM Chairman, Mr CP Gurnani walked us down memory lane more than two and a half decades back, when the industry’s apex body operated from a small and rented quarters in Lodhi road. He reminisced what Shri Dewang Mehta had famously said at that time – Roti, Kapda, Makaan and Bandwidth. “The great visionary that he was”, and on the same breadth CP Gurnani added, “how many of us even had access to emails 25 years back?” That set the stage, tone and tenor. Clearly the industry had come a long way to achieve its position of pre-eminence. Laced with some key statistics like 4 million direct employees and 5 times that number in indirect, among others, we were assured that the industry remains committed in its journey towards achieving 225 billion USD in revenue by 2020, and 350 billion USD by 2025. Notwithstanding, the road bumps that industry leaders were presently negotiating, the sector continues its sustained effort to re-boot itself to address the challenges, and leverage newer opportunities in a digital economy.
The Cabinet Minister from the UP government, Shri Yasar Shah, among the dignitaries on stage was a genial personality and made an instant connect with the audience. On a lighter vein, he called it his “self – proclaimed” linkages with the IT industry – that he was a student of Mr Arvind Thakur (GNIIT program); he got his first job in IBM Daksh through Naukri.com, and had also listed his profile in Jeevansathi.com before marriage. Rather wittily, he was quick enough to add that hopefully the last profile had been deleted by now. The government of UP deeply recognizes the contribution of NASSCOM in fostering the eco-system in Noida which alone is home to 942 startups today, he said. NASSCOM is the driving force behind the industry’s phenomenal growth and the symbolic relationship built assiduously over time with the government of UP, is now well poised to go to the next level. He ended his short address on a very positive note which set the stage for the Hon’ble Vice President’s Keynote Address, which we will see in the next blog.
The campus houses the headquarters, startup warehouse, auditoriums, cafe and ample open spaces.
The office work area