Infosys’ robust second-quarter result yesterday has gladdened many hearts. It has even exceeded the best hopes of punters, and rightly therefore the stock is scaling new highs.
I’ve been looking at the figures and what leaps out at me is Infosys’ hiring of 10,795 hands in last quarter alone, pushing its total strength to 66,150 employees. Impressive indeed, and laudable too since it has provided employment opportunity to so many people.
But my inquisitive mind forces me to compare Infosys with another great, the IT czar, Google, though admittedly their business models differ. Google’s rep in the recent Wordmasters contest in Kolkata said that Google has about 7900 employees as of June last.
Considering that Google is a 1998-startup vis-à-vis Infosys’ 1981 coming-into-being, it is probably ‘understandable’ why Infosys is more populated than Google. But despite nearly 2 decades headstart, Infosys is not what Google is. Compare for example its market cap of $28 billion (NASDAQ listing) against latter’s $130 billion. There can be many such comparisons, the moot point however remaining that Infosys is not what Google is.
Why is it so? Why for all our ‘talent’ we boast we still haven’t had a Linux, a Skype, a Blogger or a YouTube? The answer is perhaps not far to seek. We are more mediocre than we like to believe. We tend to equate rapid economic development with ‘rise’ in talent. But that is a fallacy.
He has set up National Knowledge Commission
Who knows this better than our PM, Manmohan Singh! Being an academician himself, he’s acutely aware of our dismal pool of collective talent. Which is why he often expresses wishes that India ought to stop brain drain.
But will that help? Not really. What instead is needed is that we must have a conducive climate to nurture and respect real talent, treading miles and miles away from the publicity-guzzling talent-hunting gimmicks that we see on the idiot box.
Till that happens, till we have a Page or a Brin amongst us, let us not pretend that we’re full of talent. The American sweep of Nobel this year shows that they are the top-class at the highest level. We, the Indians, are top-class at lower levels. Let’s accept that.