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Wen stirs tech hopes
- Asian giants head for IT give and take

Bangalore, April 9: The arrival of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in the technology hub today raised hopes of partnerships in infotech ventures that could roll out products for the global market.

The IT industry here is abuzz with projections on how the Asian giants could complement each other even as they race for a slice of the global IT market.

China's expertise in the manufacturing sector, embedded systems and design of chips could be supported by the Indian software companies to produce items for the IT sector as well as consumer durables worldwide.

For instance, Indian software companies could write the programmes for advanced personal computers manufactured by Menovo (a company that recently acquired IBM in China), industry sources said.

'Even a restricted free trade agreement will help bring together the expertise of both countries,' a source said.

Kiran Karnik, the president of the National Association of Software and Services Companies, pointed out that they could continue to secure a slice of the global pie but set up joint ventures as well.

'From our perspective, there is a distinct possibility of cooperation despite the competition. Our projections show that there is enough space for IT firms from both the countries. India now accounts for 3 per cent of the global IT market. I am certain that we will stay ahead (of China) as the market grows,' he said.

Sources in Infosys Technologies Ltd said the domestic IT companies could use the headstart to increase their share of the services market, but sign up with the Chinese firms that are leaders in the manufacturing sector to reap rich dividends.

'We have a lead of at least four years in the software sector and can surge ahead if the Centre supports the industry with good infrastructure and an increased manpower,' one of them said.

'The government cannot expect the industry to sustain the growth with engineers from a handful of IITs and engineering colleges. The number of engineers passing out today (2,75,000) will be inadequate for the industry as we try to capture new markets.'

Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro, had sounded an alarm on China emerging as a competitor in outsourcing to draw the government's attention to such competition from a powerful neighbour and to shake off the complacency in the industry.

'If Huwaei Technologies Ltd (the lone Chinese software company in India) can design the software for IT companies in China, it will soon pose a challenge to our companies. It has started competing with companies such as Cisco and Juniper,' a source said.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which set up a subsidiary unit in Shanghai two years ago, plans to expand its operations in China. 'S. Ramadorai, (CEO of TCS), has been interacting with the Chinese administration. He will unveil the plans soon after the Chinese Premier's visit to TCS on Sunday,' a source said.

Like his predecessor Zhu Rongji, Wen will spend a significant amount of time with scientists and technologists tomorrow during his visit to TCS and Huwaei.

A preview of the space programme at Isro's satellite centre by G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of Isro, and an hour-long discussion with directors of seven R&D institutes at the IISc are also on the agenda.

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