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The end of India’s ‘IT miracle’? (californiasunday.com)
296 points by fourmii 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 403 comments



IT miracle? More like IT sham. The quality of engineers in India is sketchy at best in my experience. Lack of understanding and innovation is rife across the board, but they seem to be great at selling their service. This may be because of the "yes" culture other comments have mentioned, but I would guess it's got a lot to do with a massively undercut price. It is, however, a false economy, because you often end up implementing things 4 times before they're fit for purpose. Also, the attrition rate in Indian tech firms is crazy - I've often seen 80% of a team change before the end of a 6 month project, which means continual re-explanation of requirements etc etc. For me, developers in India have always been a bad experience, and I'm genuinely surprised at the success the Indian IT outsourcing companies have enjoyed over the decades.


I was dealing with a smart IT engineer from India and then I found out that he has sold me code for peanuts he had created for another client (and was already owned exclusively by that client, which was a major venture backed company), and then I caught him selling the code I paid him well to create exclusively to a third client also for peanuts. Basically no regard at all for IP rights and the contracts he signed, just doing whatever he could to make a quick buck. Not sure if it was just him or a cultural thing. But ended up an IP nightmare.


I hate to say it (as I am Indian), but it's a cultural thing. Basically, it's all about solving the problem by any means necessary, regardless of cost to the environment, cost to others, future problems etc. This is changing somewhat, but rather slowly.


That basically hits the nail on the head, but it's not the full extent of it. We have ["Jugaad" culture](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jugaad), where we actually take pride in doing things that would be labeled outright fraud in a lot of places.

I also can't see how its changing, I've become rather cynical from having to deal with it constantly. I sure hope you're right, though.


I was about to mention "Jugaad" in my original comment - my dad talks about the concept proudly all the time. I am sort of proud of it, but also hate the conniving aspect of many jugaads!


It certainly depends on who you are dealing with. It definitely isn't a cultural thing. Ethics and ethical people exist everywhere. Had it not been there wouldn't be these many tech companies or businesses in India.


Consequence of demographics? Competition in India and China are arguably fiercer because of scale. If you’re not pulling out all the stops then you might be handicapping yourself relative to your peers.


Wow, that actually explains a lot of problems I have with the way my Indian team work. Thanks for the heads up!


At work, we've had issues with Indian candidates informing us during interviews that they've already recently accepted an offer / started a new job, but that they're willing to come work for us instead. Completely oblivious to the fact of how big of an immediate red flag that is.


In some cultures, you're smart to get ahead any way you can, and they'd call anyone a fool who followed some set of rules or principles instead of getting ahead. For them, rules are artificial, arbitrary social constructs with zero benefit, while results are concrete. It's hard to argue they're wrong.


That depends on expectations, whether in a given industry or culture. In most professional settings showing your hand as essentially a mercenary in terms of allegiance and showing no stickiness, will result in considering an alternative candidate, in the US.


Yes I think there is some deceit required for those implementing this philosphophy but it doesn't change the strategy.

We, also got burned by someone who accepted another offer and quit, a week after beginning work with us. Obviously, that guy--and whoever recommended him--are on our shitlist now. Word does get around hopefully.


A business not wanting to invest time hiring, training and integrating an employee who is likely to leave prematurely is not an abstract principle.


Then the business must be willing to pay generously.


> and they'd call anyone a fool who followed some set of rules or principles instead of getting ahead

> It's hard to argue they're wrong.

Except for the fact that in this very thread there seems to be quite a backlash against them. Seems to be very short-term and selfish thinking.


If the cost of multi-multi-billion dollar industry is backlash on the internet forums, that's hardly a difficult choice.


Except when that "backlash on the internet forums" is a reflection of what is happening in reality which seems to be the case here.


>It's hard to argue they're wrong.

Eugenics. Thalidomide. Radium paint. Lead paint. Leaded gasoline. The list goes on.

It's quite easy to argue against taking shortcuts and eschewing rigor in favor of "results" if you know some history and have some perspective.


Actually it is quite easy, cost of doing business in such cultures is much higher as you can not really trust anything and must guard against a knife in the back at any moment.

There is a huge amount of friction that eliminates if counterparty can be trusted vast majority of the time.


The problem is they have to give three month's notice when quitting a job. When other companies or headhunters learn that you gave notice, they do their best to hire you away from whatever new job you took.

Our HR Department now calls new-hires every couple of days to keep them engaged so they don't take a job elsewhere. It sucks when you hire someone, plan things three months in advance, and.... they don't show up to the job without ever telling you they took a job somewhere else.


>>It sucks when you hire someone, plan things three months in advance, and.... they don't show up to the job without ever telling you they took a job somewhere else.

And yet nobody ever agrees to lower the 3 month notice period rule.


The workers want no notice period.

The industry wants 3 months, so their benches are warm, and they can handle the buffer better.

How thoroughly one side has won indicates how thoroughly the power is held. One could call it legal enslavement.


The period is for both sides, so you cannot really say

> The workers want no notice period.

Im my anecdotal experience nobody wants "no notice period"


I am not sure how you can generalize. I would not consider it as a red flag unless the candidate in question has history of hopping too quickly. I have direct/indirect experience of being both the sides. I once left a company in couple of months because company's culture was totally different than what I expected. I have also seen a friend of mine getting fired in couple of months after joining a company because company felt he was a misfit


It is absolutely a red flag. If you've committed to another company, then you have no business interviewing elsewhere.

If you don't take a job seriously at one company, why would I expect you to take a job seriously at my company?

If I offer you a job, how can I be sure you'll show up for it, and not just take the next offer that comes along? I can't. So you're no longer in consideration as soon as you tell me you're disloyal to your other company.

In some industries in America (especially media companies, but it's also common in high-end retail), if your boss hears that you're looking for another job, you're immediately fired. Sometimes it's even written into the contract, if you have one.


If you are serious then you better give a generous offer so that is unlikely for other company to give better offer.

A job is a business. The loyalty is goes only as far what the company or the employee can offer.

Likewise a company can fire employee anytime as soon as that employee is not needed anymore or better employee come along.


I think the key word is "recently". It might have been many months already for the interviewing guy, but it sounds more like 2-8 weeks ago, and that is really fast (==bad) job hopping.


I would expect most developers to do the same thing if the offer was good enough, but I suspect they would be far less open to mention it. I'm assuming this is just a difference in cultural knowledge of how it looks. They might have been thinking of it as social proof of desirability where as more local developers are aware that culturally you are supposed to pretend to be loyal to the company.


A candidate who want to get better offer is a red flag ?


You can always negotiate, but if you accept an offer I expect you to commit.


Just curious, commit for how long? I have been in situations before, where I have accepted an offer, started a job and was informed 3 months later that the company mis-calculated the budgets/revenues and have to let go a bunch of people. Guess who gets let go first? The people who started the latest.

Doesn't this go both ways? In this day and age in America, there's no loyalty going in either direction, employer or employee.


As a freelancer I feel I should try to commit for at least a year - and I will try to work a bit longer of possible. I believe this looks better on my resume as well.

I think it's hard for most jobs, at least in my space (mobile software) to do much effective work when staying only for -let's say- 3 months at some company.

But mismanagement happens. The example you mention of being let go after just 3 months should be the exception, not the rule. I certainly never experienced something like that. Then again I like to work for big clients, feels to me more guaranteed they will still be in business tomorrow and me getting paid.


Not entirely convinced that others' poor ethics are a justification for your own.


What argument can you possibly make for an ethical burden that amounts to one-sided loyalty? The REASON is would be immoral to have no loyalty to an employer is because it makes the employers loyalty one-sided. If the employer abandons their loyalty towards employees, as all modern employers did throughout the 1980s and have now established as standard business practice, then there is no ethical burden on the employee to remain loyal. In fact, it becomes unethical to be loyal, a betrayal of your family and self for an entity that does not respect you. I am sure there are a great many employers who expect that they should be permitted to acquire dirt cheap labor to build their profits with no consequences. Their desires are irrelevant.

"Make game of that which makes as much of thee."


There is no good reason at for any kind of ethic burden.

Some people steal; some might have even stole something from you. Doesn't mean you have to too, and I doubt most people are held back only by law/punishment.


I don't think you can equate me leaving an employer "early", for some definition of early, to theft. As long as the contract is "at will employment", which majority of American job offers are (sorry for my America centric view), then the contract is AT WILL, in both directions. In my mind there is no ethical, moral or legal lapse.


I never quite understood this concept of loyalty or commitment to a business entity. You might interview the candidate and take it to the final stage with lot of effort but at the end of the day, the candidate is offered the job by the business entity and not personally by the interviewer. I don't see why the relationship should go beyond the applicable law of the land.

Of course, once the candidate joins the company, regular interpersonal concepts between employees that involve loyalty and commitment can be pursued.


Agreed, one-sided loyalty is a foolish activity. I never understood that either.

To all the people mentioning ethics - a company can and will fire people without any reason. I know a couple of people personally who can't sleep not knowing why they were fired. In 30 mins, they were walked out. That's incredibly unethical but for some reason, not giving advanced notice to your employer is considered unethical? Hypocrisy!


Any commitment is only until a better offer comes along. Better is a bit loosely defined as there is a cost of burning the bridge with you by jumping (be that a day after accepting or after 5 years of working there), but at the end of the day there this is a business relationship and the extent of our obligations are only spelled out based on any contract we have signed, and our social obligations only extend to the extent that the cost of violating the social obligation outweighs the benefit. Any employee who doesn't see the other side as doing the same is eventually going to get burned by it.


> The quality of engineers in India is sketchy at best

In a little over 25 years of experience, I've observed that the most competent developers I've worked with have been Indian. The most incompetent developers I've worked with have also been Indian. That doesn't say anything about Indians as a population, it's just that 90% of my coworkers, for the past two and a half decades, have been Indian.


Were they in India? That's specifically what osrec said. Nothing about Indians.


I am in India, and I can't help but feel insulted by this comment. Is there some kind of magic that makes engineers better when you take them out of India?

There are some great developers here and plenty of crappy ones. And some of the worst developers I've worked with are Americans in America.

----

edit: I'll also add here that a many of the best developers I've worked with are American as well.


>Is there some kind of magic that makes engineers better when you take them out of India?

Yes, and it's called selection bias. A given engineer leaving their country gets no better, but the selection bias that applies to engineers who do leave their country means they are better on average. The good engineers who don't leave for some reason (family or such) are just as good as if they had left, but the average engineer is weighed down by those who don't have the skill to leave.

>And some of the worst developers I've worked with are Americans in America.

I've encountered some horrible American developers as well. The difference, in my experience, is that they tend to cost the same as a good American developer and thus get replaced a lot faster.


You are in India, and you exactly know what OP meant. He meant tons of people working in TCS/Infosys/Wipro where majority of them are bad engineers.

There are a lot of extremely talented devs working in India; at Google, Microsoft and all the start ups in Banglore and Hyderabad, but unfortunately there are more people working in those IT industries and thus skews the perception.


Hey, I don't agree with that either. In my experience, there is a normal distribution of idiots regardless of the country of origin.

A lot of my colleagues and ex colleagues either work or have worked in Infosys/Wipro/TCS at some point in their careers. And again, they didn't "magically" get worse or better when they left or joined my company (I'm in a product development company).

Wipro, Infy etc aren't able to hold quality senior technical talent because they cannot pay as much. The better senior developers leave to product development firms that pay better and have better quality work and work life balance, leaving behind newly joined junior developers who know less, but will accept what Infy/Wipro pays and work ungodly hours.

I've read that every 5 years the number of active developers doubles. That means that every 5 years 50% of the development workforce has little to no experience. In India, that 50% starter workforce is concentrated, sitting in the big consulting firms, developing their skills and getting better, and when and if they get better, they leave.

The real problem is that if you pay peanuts, you get... people willing to work for peanuts, until they can get a better job.


>Wipro, Infy etc aren't able to hold quality senior technical talent because they cannot pay as much. The better senior developers leave to product development firms that pay better and have better quality work and work life balance, leaving behind newly joined junior developers who know less, but will accept what Infy/Wipro pays and work ungodly hours.

And that right there is the issue. Happens in Sri Lanka as well although to a lesser extent (smaller population). The companies that have been most prolific in outsourcing are the ones who are responsible for the current stereotyping of India's IT industry.

Those same companies are also the ones bidding with lowest costs in order to win more contracts. I submit virtusa as exhibit A where India and Sri Lanka are battling each other for contracts and India generally being able to offer lower rates.

Which then feeds back into how those projects actually get completed, and as per the quote and the article, it involves 18 hour workdays 6-7 days a week with poor compensation against 8 hour work days. And this ends up churning out humans who know their worth and know what jobs they can get now that they've got that first job on the CV, aka the foot through the door.

This then restarts the cycle where companies have to complete projects and keep bidding on new projects to maintain the hired workforce and on and on and lower and lower it goes.

This part of the industry has been a shit show for a while. I will be sad for the people who lose jobs. No one deserves that unless they were knowingly malicious. At the same time, the software industry has to mature, and I don't see how this business models will be sustained with such maturity.


>(I'm in a product development company). >The better senior developers leave to product development firms that pay better and have better quality work and work life balance, leaving behind newly joined junior developers who know less, but will accept what Infy/Wipro pays and work ungodly hours.

Do you think the work in product development companies are any better? They just get paid more. Most of the US captives in India will never send their most important product line to India. It is just maintenance of a product line which will be phased out. Most of the big semiconductor companies, networking companies are like this. Most of these companies hire contractors from the companies that you mentioned. They would have some stupid 8-10 levels of interviews to show that they are doing some serious work. After joining it would be a miracle if you are working on some sensible code base.

In fact I have personally seen that some of the work which these service companies are genuinely good which the product companies will never get. Unfortunately it gets ruined by the horrible developers and management there.


> Most of the US captives in India will never send their most important product line to India. ... > it is just maintenance of a product line which will be phased out.

This is unfortunate and, most of the time, true. I do wish we had better work coming here.


It is common to see Chinese names in some top tier science publications coming from America. At the same time, the bulk of science coming from mainland China is junk. So there well can be some magic at work. That, or selection.


There is a massive screening process in both India and China that results in the top fraction of a percentage of students going off to study in the US. Those are the ones who later go on to publish while at US institutions. So yes, there is some signal there.


If you can make it in the West you’ll leave your homeland typically. Tech is a sector that often can is merit based so it’s not difficult for foreign engineers to prove their worth and make the migration (relative to other service sector industries).


> merit based

Still, in spite of some concerted efforts to change that...


Please don't feel insulted. It's merely a general observation relating to culture in certain geographies, not to be applied to you specifically.

For example, an Indian in India may not think twice before throwing their food wrapper on the road side, but would probably never do that when on holiday in London (if they did, society or police would reprimand them for it and correct their action).

Similarly in tech, certain things (esp. related to quality/code cleanliness etc) seem much more relaxed in India compared to elsewhere.


I didn't mean to single you or anyone else out. I've seen this sentiment echoed in multiple online forums and as one of them incompetent developers in India, I feel the need to defend myself.


> ...and as one of them incompetent developers in India, I feel the need to defend myself.

Is there a typo (or 2) in here somewhere?


I substituted 'them' for 'those'. According to the interweb, it's grammatically acceptable in informal English.

Similar to saying "Look at them eyes" or "One of them developers will get to it eventually".

ref: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/them


> ...and as one of them incompetent developers in India, I feel the need to defend myself.

In your original sentence, you are trying to use "them" as an adjective to modify "incompetent developers," but "them" should only be used as a 3rd person plural pronoun. Using "them" as an adjective is not proper; your examples sound strange to native speakers, and is usually associated with vernacular English in general. Native speakers may assume this usage is due to poor knowledge of proper English, or possibly a regional (improper, but common) usage in the American South.

https://grammarstars.blogspot.com/2008/08/41-them-and-those-...


The first example is straight out of the oxford dictionary link that I posted. It's at the bottom of the page under "Informal, dialect".

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/them

A couple of other examples: 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB33z9xoSw8&feature=youtu.be... 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elUsB4y5RVk

There are plenty more examples on Google.

--

I want to say I take your point. I wouldn't use this in formal writing, but as far as I can tell this is an accepted western way to emphasise something.


> I want to say I take your point. I wouldn't use this in formal writing, but as far as I can tell this is an accepted western way to emphasise something.

No, it isn't. Using "them" in the way you did makes you sound like a hillbilly.

Just some advice: it's wise to avoid using any words or usage listed in the dictionary as "dialect" unless you're very familiar with the particular dialect it's from. Likewise, you should be very careful with "informal" terms unless you've actually been introduced to them informally by someone who knows how they're used. There's a lot of cultural context that needs to be mastered with those, and you won't learn that from a book, let alone a dictionary.


I saw the dictionary entry. Still, take it from a native (US)speaker. The only time you would want to use it is either in jest, or to sound like an uneducated hillbilly.

*edit - I will add that the 2 youtube videos are not good examples to be learning english from...


I would like to amend my above comment: the 2 youtube videos are HORRIBLE examples to be learning english from.


Makes sense. Unfortunately, the use of "them" instead of "those" in this case (actually, in many cases) is grammatically incorrect.

At the very least this usage would cause the listener/reader to assume that English is not the speakers first language, or assume a lower level of education.

Not meaning this to be a discouragement, but hopefully, a help


Thanks for letting me know, I will avoid it.


>>Is there some kind of magic that makes engineers better when you take them out of India?

Obviously no. But NRIs have an incentive to portray that image. Once you go out of the country, you have to now worry about your own interests. If you keep singing praises about your ex-countrymen they will outsource more work to India, and you the newly minted US passport holder, who has a job in the US will suffer. Or worse you might be on the path to receive a GC and may have to restart the process if you lose your job due to outsourcing.

Please note, everyone protects their own interests.


I think the issue isn’t Indian engineers living in India, but bad management of India-based companies who set the bar low enough for lots of bad “engineers” to join, making the experience unbearable for any good engineers that work there (if any). As a result the good ones leave and make a have career abroad.


See my other comment. We don't all think this way, and I'm sorry you feel insulted.


Brain drain.


Indeed. I too am (British) Indian ;)


Thank you for saying this.

I love my Indian brothers and sisters, and think that the real offender in creating bad experiences with Indian devs are Indian businesses, which IMO have exploitative practices and emphasize over specialization. Even worse is the practice of requiring a 3 months notice to quit as a rule. There are 1 billion people in India, and I want the innovative, hard working, and kind among them to be welcomed to the US with open arms. I am deeply proud to have helped two highly talented young men get H1B visas and eventually green cards. They became great friends of mine and my family.

Sincerely, a white American guy who can't wait to travel to Maharashtra one day to visit Pune and Mumbai, and meet my friend's families.


i mean this is an obvious statement, if you've only worked with a group, then of course the most competent and least competent is within that group...


> The quality of engineers in India is sketchy at best in my experience.

That is because you dont pay them well, the good engineers who are being paid well work in MS, Amazon etc in India.


Not sure about that... I worked at an investment bank in London, and had a tech team support our quant desk from India. I signed off on the costs and they were ranging from 10 lakhs to 35 lakhs per person. I think that's comparable, or even better than MS or Amazon for the city they were in (Pune).


I’ve seen developers in the London office of some banks get paid over £150k who were not any good at software either. it would be disingenuous to say that isn’t common.

I also saw some incredibly good devs there but you get both.


Very true. I was not really on the tech side, but often found myself correcting the code of some very expensive developers. Simple things, like not realising when things have been passed by value or by reference etc. Most developers lack the passion to be truly great at their work, because they consider it just a job. It's fair enough, but every so often you see a developer write effortless technical poetry with their code - they are a rare breed with innovation in their blood.


There are some really good Indian teams in the Banking sector. You do have to be careful of course, but I've worked with some excellent Indian colleagues over there in Hyderabad and Chennai. I think the thing is the banks and other big corporates hoover up the top talent, and retain it, which then becomes invisible to the wider tech industry.

All the problems mentioned here do exist and are real, but they're not the whole story. The management culture over there s a bit different. Managers tend not to want to be involved in anything technical. There is a 'yes' culture of not challenging requests. However there are plenty of exceptions to the 'rule'.


There are definite exceptions. Were those people employed by your bank, or by an outsourcing company? The distinction is important, both in terms of quality and price. Internal hires are much more expensive (training, benefits etc), but generally better and less likely to leave. Outsourced staff basically don't care because they know they're being taken advantage of. So you get what you pay for.


You’re quite right, they were direct hires.


The truly good people would expect a significant fraction of the UK salary, not an average Indian IT salary.


The sad part about India is most people who come from low income households accept any salary. Because a job and the opportunity that comes with it is more important than anything else.

Negotiations are for freshers whose father's have been paying college fees and bills. The remainder can't afford to turn down a job for these reasons.


35 lacks you mentioned is a good starting salary for a person at Amazon or MS. 10L is not, even in Pune.


35L is about 40k GBP - the average cost of a JS developer in many parts of the UK. Are you saying that's a starting salary for a developer in India - because in that case, why outsource?!


UK is famous for having poor dev rates. A coworker of mine transferred from Microsoft Beijing to Cambridge and had to take a pay cut because the payscale for the level he was at was actually lower there.


There are starting developers who get paid that much but it's not common. I hear most consulting firms pay about 1.5-6L, and Amazon pays 12-14L.


I have a decade of experience but get about half of that. Not all companies pay so much.


35L starting sounds like exaggeration. The most common is <15L for 0-5 year of experience.


Not sure how to respond to your anecdote.

If what you are saying is true then you should have a chat with the person who hired them to see what is going on.

The poor salaries which I am talking about is Rs 2 lakhs for freshers who join IT consultancy services.


They just come over here. Why would they work in india when they can make 4-10x here?


Let me be clear - “Not all Indian Developers are bad”. The reason why quality of engineers at Infy, wipro, tcs etc. is so bad is because of their recruitment process. They recruit engineers from various colleges like herd of sheeps and call it mass recruitment. Irrespective of the his specialisation (Mechanical, Electronics or Chemical etc.) Students practice code for a day and so go for interview and unfortunately many get recruited. Then there is one year of Training. After training these engineers get into software development. Imagine a student who never wrote a line of code in his entire life suddenly has become a developer. Indian college and companies need to change how they recruit students.


>>Then there is one year of Training.

So more than your average CS engineering grad?

>>Imagine a student who never wrote a line of code in his entire life suddenly has become a developer.

B.S.

Everyone writes code these days. Most electronics people study at-least 3 - 4 programming languages. In fact things like C, 8085, 8086 and a PIC.


There's a difference between writing something that compiles and being able to write code properly.

The "throw enough cheap coders" at the problem will work really well, until it doesn't, and at that point you have nothing but an expensive mess that needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.

If you don't have a good foundation, you're screwing the project in the long run, and this is the result of every offshoring programming project I've witnessed.


I don't think many who've worked with the major body shops would disagree with this. On the other hand, I've worked for companies that have opened offices offshore, and hired their own full time development staffs. I have seen very talented developers and dedicated teams via this arrangement. I work with one such team now, and I'm deeply impressed by them. They're some of best I've seen.


At risk of sounding hypocritical, I have done the same in my firm (https://osrec.co.uk). I took Indian grads straight out of uni and trained them to western development standards. They basically have to become good, or their pull requests never get merged into our core code bases. They soon understand the level of quality that is required, because, to their credit, they are genuinely keen to contribute. My issue is more with the big firms, where quality is not regarded highly (or at all), and they infuse that attitude across the Indian tech scene.


> The quality of engineers in India is sketchy at best in my experience.

The problem, I think, is that management draws conclusions about the quality of Indian engineers based on interactions with the ones working in the US, who by definition are the absolute best of the best. "Sanjay is one of our best engineers", the bean counter says, "and my God, there's _a billion_ of them back in India!"


> by definition are the absolute best of the best.

I think that's probably true - the people who can claw their way through the H1B process are probably among the best India has to offer. I don't believe that that's entirely why management loves them, though. The fact that they work 12-15 hours a day, 7 days a week, in crowded, noisy open offices without ever complaining since they're under constant fear of being fired at a moment's notice and being unable to find new work, coupled with the fact that they're capable software engineers, is why management loves them.


Right, but again I think they end up drawing incorrect conclusions about the state of Indian engineers in general based on what they see with their H1-Bs.


My suspicion: you're working with outsourcing consulting teams. The best engineers are locked up in the companies that actually hire there. Google, Microsoft Research, LinkedIn, etc. If you're not doing the actual hiring you're just getting talked into buying a team built for cheap.

Disclaimer: LinkedIn Employee. Our Banglore team isn't noticably different skill wise than our SV team.


It's not a scam, you just have to know what you are buying.

For internal Enterprise apps, for testing, for some other things - you need just basic developers who can understand problems and solve them.

Also - there's a lot of basic IT work and basic dev-ops-ish stuff that can be done.

So yes, if you try to build a hot new thing, for your hot new startup using Infosys, you're going to fail.

But if you have large company, and need some well-defined system for reviewing customer service inquiries ... well, if you manage the project correctly, Infosys might be a good choice. In fact, it may be your only choice because hiring devs in North America is very expensive.


I'm not convinced. I've seen some terrible test cases written by Infosys engineers. Just a complete lack of imagination with respect to the failure modes of a piece of software. Remember that India is not the "only choice"; Eastern Europe is waiting in the wings at a similar price point, better quality, and better timezone overlap.


>Just a complete lack of imagination with respect to the failure modes of a piece of software.

I get this with people Accenture and the like too though. . .


" Just a complete lack of imagination with respect to the failure modes of a piece of software." you get what you pay for to some extent.

E. Europe is considerably more expensive than India.


Not really, when you consider that tasks need to be repeated multiple times in India before they're done to an acceptable standard. A few years ago, things were still cheap enough to accept this problem, but now development costs in India have gone up significantly and makes them non viable in my opinion.


Everytime I hear this I fail to see how it makes any sense. Either (1) All the firms hiring them are idiots and are unable to judge competency and continue falling for the "scam" every year, year after year on every project, with every company. (2) Your propositions are incorrect. They do have good engineers and they do end up doing good work.


They pick their targets very carefully. They will generally aim to get contractual sign off from business-focused people that know little about IT. They'll promise them the world at a fraction of the cost of competitors, and the business guys will present a healthy set of cost savings to their board. Once the customer is fully locked in, they will fail to deliver on a few of those promises. Then the excuses start. Then the timelines slip. Then, after many months of this charade, they might get fired. Then the customer might try another company. Then they go back to on-shoring their dev team.

Basically, it's not (1) or (2), but instead (3): that these guys are master scammers, liars and confidence tricksters. They exaggerate without committing to anything and lull their customers into a false sense of security. They are THE slipperiest eels in the industry.

If you don't believe me, I encourage you to give them a try just once - it will probably convince you.


>They will generally aim to get contractual sign off from business-focused people that know little about IT.

In that case any IT consultancy could fool those people. If a US consulting firm is chosen, how could anyone make the claim that they were chosen on merit?

I know quite a few "business-focused" people. It is not so easy to fool them even if IT is not their core competency. Businesses typically will include several protection clauses in the contract and set the legal jurisdiction to their own country. I don't believe it is easy to fool businesses for years on end. They would go out of business pretty quickly.

>They'll promise them the world at a fraction of the cost of competitors, and the business guys will present a healthy set of cost savings to their board. Once the customer is fully locked in, they will fail to deliver on a few of those promises. Then the excuses start. Then the timelines slip. Then, after many months of this charade, they might get fired. Then the customer might try another company. Then they go back to on-shoring their dev team.

Then data would show that those firms have no long term contracts or repeat business from previous clients. Does it?


Every large organisation I've been in operates in silos, and these firms hide within these silos. Also, these firms have a bad reputation - everyone in banking knows it, yet they are still employed because they're cheap and let you add bodies to the shop floor when funding is squeezed. That makes managers look powerful with big empires, which helps getting promoted. So it's not all about code quality or productivity - sometimes it's just about looking like you're getting stuff done, before you leave and let someone else inherit the mess.


Okay, lets assume that this is happening. I would hope that the person harming their own business by willfully engaging with an incompetent third party is the one at fault here.


The thing is, it's not their business. They just show that they saved money and get promoted on to another role. The mess, when it becomes apparent, is for someone else to clean up...


Okay then they are a dishonest toxic employee. The way to solve that is by trying to weed out such people in your hiring, and do due diligence on their previous employment record. I fail to see how that changes my conclusion.


This won't work, because those employees don't actually register as toxic for the company - au contraire: They have reached - and quite possibly exceeded - their predefined performance targets! They have done exactly what they were hired for. You have to realize that things like long-term quality, or even reducing total costs for the company (only the silo is important!) is not a performance target in this scenario, and that's the root of the problem.

It's a systemic problem, a problem of corporate structure and incentives, and exactly the ecosystem where these kinds of contractors thrive.


In that case any IT consultancy could fool those people. If a US consulting firm is chosen, how could anyone make the claim that they were chosen on merit?

If it's a US firm, then there can be financial and legal repercussions. Good luck going after a firm in India.


The usual way businesses deal with that sort of thing is by withholding milestone payments till the contractual obligations are fulfilled. Running such scams doesn't keep you in business for long. There is no one handed clap.


Except the person on the US side who fought for and won the ability to outsource the project to save money is personally invested in success. He has decided this will make his career. So when it comes to fulfilling those contractual obligations, he will sign off on it, then bring it in house and try to quietly put together a team to fix the system to make it actually function.

This isn't just an India thing. This is how government contracts work in the US too. The government contracts out to Lockheed Martin for a big IT project (used to anyway, LM got out of the business on the civilian side at least), LM hires the cheapest 'talent' they can find, loading projects 80/20 management/engineering, drag their feet for a few years, and eventually someone on the government side decides they're going to make their career by being the person who brings this project across the finish line. So they ignore or lie about the requirements being fulfilled and drag the steaming mess in-house, while LM hosts a champagne-drenched celebration. Contracting has fundamentally perverse incentives.


Ah yes, the $200 "military spec" hammer. Well with the government, you'd still have a job if you waste taxpayer money, since the government keeps collecting revenue. With a private firm, I'd expect them to go out of business if they keep wasting money like that. I work in pharma and I've been involved with a few consulting contracts. We chose our vendors very carefully and I can't imagine us ever paying when contractual obligations are not met.

>Except the person on the US side who fought for and won the ability to outsource the project to save money is personally invested in success. He has decided this will make his career. So when it comes to fulfilling those contractual obligations, he will sign off on it, then bring it in house and try to quietly put together a team to fix the system to make it actually function.

Its hard to imagine the owner(s) of the company not being good with numbers here. Surely, such frauds will be found out eventually? In any case if a company has indeed hired such a dishonest person, I would hope they improve their hiring process and do some due diligence on their previous record to weed out such people in the future.


You are talking as if the firms that have outsourced are just some poor innocent sheep. Most of the firms that have outsourced only care about money. Again it is all about money and nothing else. Nobody cares about tech, or the product or anything. It is just finding a good deal to make money. I have seen enough people from management outsource the work and then jump ship and let the lowly tech handle the mess. It is the same in India. You get the hike and then jump to another company which pays better.

If most of the firms that have outsourced have got really bad work from these big firms then why are they not suing for bad quality work? Why do they give bigger and bigger contracts? That shows the type of people in your management which you should take a hard look at before complaining about the quality of work of these big service companies.

Source: I have been on both sides. I have seen the internals of them doing business and it is a freaking mess.


About this particular comment and elsewhere in this thread, the sense of moral superiority westerners still have after trump, Facebook, Cambridge Analytica is just mind boggling. One would assume that by now one would realize one’s short comings. It also proves that there nothing intellectually or morally superior except for speaking English better then your average rickshaw driver in India. Is some parts of the USA even that’s doubtable.


A key insight is less that all Indian devs are bad, and more that they tend to be called in by companies who are incapable of knowing whether they are doing good or bad. So when a competent team comes in and sees an Indian team that has operated incompetently, things get pretty nasty pretty fast.


My experience with offshoring is that you need to put a lot of due diligence into hiring. I've worked with excellent Indian engineers, but we really had to interview a lot before we found them.


STOP creating racist stereotypes.


You do realise I'm Indian myself?! Not only that, I had to break away from the sham dev culture in order to become a good developer. Hence why I can see through the facade rather clearly.


Seems like mismatched expectations largely on your part. You get what you pay. If you ask for the cheapest workforce, you get shoddy work. I am not arguing the validity of your experience but I think it shows lack of depth.

On the other end of the market, there is a very talented workforce that commands a premium price that delivers world class products. You just need to know where to look. Most western tech decisions to use Offshoring/Outsourcing are based on the key belief that costs can be lowered. In a truly capitalist market, workers are also looking to extract their maximum worth (and upward mobility) and If you pay less, your workforce will bail at the first opportunity.

Additionally, no one wants to work for a project that is driven by a spec document that you authored and requires no design input from the local team


I studied in India 2012 for a short time. I met incredible smart and hardworking people. However, one thing that I found quite unnerving was that there is a tendency to always anwser yes if asked if one knows how to do something, even if thats not true. Sometimes a plain "I don't know" can be very helpful in achieving a goal.

I can't count how many times I asked a rickshaw driver if he knew a certain place and he answered yes, and we just drove around for some time until I found out he has no idea. From what I heard that sometimes remains a problem, also in IT service.

That said, we all have our cultural qirks, and in most cases knowing them solves half the problem.


This is ABC of travelling in India. Never ask "is this the train to Pune"? Ask where the train is going instead. The answer to Y/N question is always yes in India, and that can mean anything between "I don't speak English" and "NO".


Asking open questions is a very good communication tactic in any country. In "yes" countries like India, Japan, China it's necessary. In other countries you often find out about whether your communication partner actually understood your question.

Don't ask "Did you finish task X". Ask "what did you do on task X?". What you see as finished and what the other person sees as finished might be separate things. Maybe you see 100% unit tested, reviewed and documented as finished, and the other person means feature complete, but untested, undocumented, not reviewed.

Open questions allow you to see what the other person understands. In some cases they might misunderstand your question entirely.


I absolutely agree, plus asking "How much of task X could you already do?" is perceived as less aggressive than "Did you finish task X already?".


it's part of the culture to be nice (to strangers) and NO is considered rude. brings a lot of funky and frustrating moments not only when travelling.

another is that strange indian head-shake that is so hard to reproduce - never figured it out completely, but it felt like when I eventually ask yes/no question and they say yes with that shake, it's actually more like no/don't know/maybe


Just make an 8 with your nose. :-)


The old bobble head :) I was there for a month, the whole country, and it's their form of agreement/understanding. Particularly when you're trying to teach them something.


The head bobble just means that they hear you. It does not mean yes or no or anything else really.


There are 3 different movements. One is for acknowledgement, other two are for yes and no.


I have heard so many people say "I am not sure" and i have heard so many people say "No" and i have also heard some people say No and this is how you have to get to your destination or get to your answer.

So you are 100% wrong when you say "The answer to Y/N question is always yes in India".

Which makes me doubt/ blindly ignore any of your opinion ever.


When I first became a manager, I had this really amazing mentor that explained to me a lot of the quirks of multiculturalism. I consider myself at least somewhat versed in other cultures, but I quickly learned there was a lot I didn't know about the mannerisms of people from India, China, Russia, etc.

What I find sad, is that there are a lot of people in positions of power that either have no idea (or don't care) that people from different parts of the world see things and respond differently than you'd expect and then get frustrated when the outcome is different than expected. I'd explain to them that it's a cultural thing, and they need to learn how to approach their questions/explanations differently. Most of the time I get this blank look like, "Why? Can't they just change?" and then go back to trying the same approach and calling their staff down, because they can't seem to understand why they are ineffective.


In my travels, I learned very quickly not to let that bother me, or else I would have gone nuts. I mean, the number of times somebody acted like I was an insane person because I started to eat X food with my hands instead of silverware, or silverware instead of hands. ("But in the last country I was in...!")

Fact is, you're the one choosing to be aware of and experience different cultures and travel, but they're not making that choice. And I had to conclude that they shouldn't need to make that choice if they don't want to. So I just sucked it up and would go along with the joke, "yeah us foreigners are such weirdos, ha!"


every foreigner is always a wierdo, thats wat makes this world so much fun and exciting.

foreigner by nation or state or city or apartment or school.


thanks for what might be my favorite HN comment ever ;)


>people from different parts of the world see things and respond differently than you'd expect and then get frustrated when the outcome is different than expected

I get your point, but the fact that Indians say "yes" to everything (i.e. the fact they lie constantly) is not something that managers should get used to, it's something Indians have to correct.


Saying "yes" to everything, as has been explained above, has more to do with different cultural definitions of "yes" than lying.

You ask me if it's going to rain, and I say yes, because I know with certainty it will rain tomorrow.

Is it fair for you to call me a liar because you carried around an umbrella today?


>different cultural definitions of "yes"

https://i.imgur.com/gByDqFX.png

There's no 100% accuracy in weather forecasts so a mistake is understandable. Asking you if you finished your task and getting a "yes" when you haven't finished it is outright lying.


You're missing the metaphor by being pedantic.

I'll assume you're American (I am).

You know how in a healthy, well-led team, if your boss suggests a course of action that's wrong at a meeting and asks for feedback, you and I would pipe up and point out the issues with their approach?

In Asian cultures, my understanding is that would never happen. Instead, everyone would agree at the meeting, then feedback would be given privately to the boss if it were a major issue, and decision changed.

Which one's right? Eh, if they both result in an eventual good choice, does it matter?

If you feel strongly about "yes" being a lie, then bully to you and run with that. But that's kind of like boxing a glacier and expecting to win...


Its funny how you comment as if you know 100 % about Asian culture. Does one persons behavior define an entire continents culture for you?

Some people have worked in 16 diff teams in last 10 years and they have friends who have broader experience and they have super close conversation with managers, they don't go to agile rooms and draw something on the white board all the time and come out with no insights or progress after a hour or only have a skilled person come and give a direction in 5 minutes and nullify the whole one hour white board drawing.

I can tell for sure since i have been part of many such teams where we precisely point out any steps in the negative directions and offer tons of suggestions to improvize on the approach and most of the time come up with a way to gently impart some sense into the overseas managers who have no idea how to get what they want.

Your reasoning is so flawed because u didn't know when to use the word never, that doesn't mean your continents reasoning is flawed but i wish in hacker news there is a option to filter out certain people's comment globally forever.


> Asking you if you finished your task and getting a "yes" when you haven't finished it is outright lying.

That's incompetent management. The question should be reworded to avoid yes / no answers. "How much has been done?" would be a better question.


Indian here. We don't lie. If you ask me if I am a female, I'd obviously won't answer yes to that.

The problem is that it's considered rude to say no when asked to complete a task by a senior. So when you'd ask an Indian developer if he can complete a project in a week, he might say yes even though he's not sure if he can do it. What he would do is say yes, and then give his best try to complete it in a week. Only when he has failed to do so, he'd report his failure.

Basically, saying no is considered as insubordination/cowardice.


>more to do with different cultural definitions of "yes" than lying.

I call poe.


>has more to do with different cultural definitions of "yes" than lying

Thus the Windows dialogues which let you choose between "Yes" and "Yes" when localised to English-India.


> i.e. the fact they lie constantly

I'm yet to discover a culture that doesn't do this, and the people from that culture are so inured to it they don't call it lying but "being polite".

As an example that would be widely understood by HN, Americans lie constantly when they ask "How are you doing?" - they really don't want to know how you are doing, and worse, you're expected to lie back with enthusiasm "I'm great!", even when you're not.


There certainly are many cultures (e.g. Eastern or Northern Europe) where the expected response to "How are you doing?" would be either a truthful description of the important problems in their life that they are currently concerned about or becoming creeped out because you're asking a rather private question and you aren't close enough so that it would be reasonable for them to tell you how they're actually doing, nor it would be reasonable for them to lie with "I'm great!" - i.e. where the question isn't appropriate to be used randomly by near-strangers.


Don’t you think imagining 1 billion people following exact same behavior is what you can easily imagine in case of India but cannot do that for USA ?


This. There are mannerisms, and there's outright lying. I'm sure those people know they're potentially wasting your time or even hurting you with false answers but they still go ahead.

It's reasonable to drop some phrases/mannerisms when you know some phrases are going to be taken literally or misinterpreted (while they shouldn't be). I can't remember of any examples about western norms right now, but I think asking "How are you?" as a greeting is not acceptable in some places, as it implies actually caring on how the person is doing or knowing them well.


I once heard from a US based colleague that he said “do X but don’t burn any bridges” to a teammate in China. That apparently once translated means the opposite of its Western meaning! An expensive mistake that was.


I've worked with people from Cognizant and sometimes I would get a plain "yes", other times a more helpful "Yes, I understood. Can you explain it again?".


If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later! Richard Branson


This is great advice but is contingent on learning how to do it. The rickshaw drivers in OP’s example didn’t complete that part.

I’ll add that this isn’t unique to India and there are lots of bullshitters in the world and in tech. I think the difference I’ve witnessed is that with more Indians than non-Indians I’ve worked with is that the acceptance is not deceptive or manipulative, it’s just neutral. Hard to describe, but I had one programmer who claimed to be great back during the Java days, not sure his cultural background, but he looked like a white guy from somewhere in America. He was lying to get the job and had fabulouser and fabulouser reasons for not being able to do it, until the lie crashed and we fired him.

This is very different from “Can you do tensorflow?” “Yes” ...check in for a week of “Yes” during daily huddles and then at the end nothing and still a “Yes, I can do it” with a perplexity of why I’m confused. Or also common the “I’ll check it in and say it works even though all tests fail and it doesn’t meet spec.”

The former is deception, the latter is sort of a disconnect with reality.


> ...back during the Java days...

The Java days are in the past for you? Must be nice...


This was both funny and sad


Years ago, a woman, a medic in one of the airborne divisions, told me that people in the military don't want to say that they don't know how to do something. I think this was in reference to two near-debacles, one scuba diving, one rock climbing, in one of which she had been the one that said "Sure, I know how to."

[edit: change "one said" to "one that said"]


Id have a pretty bad opinion about a person who would turn down an opportunity, especially those one's that require skills than can be learned easily.


"yes" this is true. Fear of failure is high and not knowing something is generally considered shameful.


I believe it is similar in Vietnamese culture. When we work with them they often say yes only for us to find out later that they had no clue what to do.


I wonder if a service like UpWork could take this cultural knowledge into consideration and change their design? I often see jobs posted that are straight up impossible... and they get bids. Someone will post "I want everyone who sees my AdWords ad to automatically Like my Facebook page" and they'll get bids from offshore IT shops claiming they will deliver exactly that. Those posting the jobs are completely unaware that what they're asking for is impossible and borders on the nonsensical. I've always figured somehow educating those people might be the solution, but perhaps instead just presenting potential work situations differently to cultures who say 'yes' to everything including the ludicrous might help?


Seems common in Asia. I had the same experience in cambodia.

One example:

- I was very, very sick (Traveler's diarrhea) and we were about to embark for a 5 hours minivan trip with a guy without a driving license.

- 5 minutes before departure, I ask the organizer "do you have a vomit bag?"

- "Yes"

- I wait around a bit, but he carries on with his work and just ignore me

- "Sorry, did you have a bag, any bag? maybe a plastic bag, as I'm sick"

- "Yes"

- Now it's 30s before departure and I get pretty stressed as I have nothing should I need to throw up. So I ask him again, and he actually get pretty mad (with that asian "must not lose face" style though) and ignore me because I insisted and didn't just drop the issue (I didn't know what was going on at the time ...)


Sounds like "yes" means "I heard ya" or "ACK"


Even in China, and that's the biggest market there.

You have to adjust your questions. Always start the question with a W, and never with a Has or Is.


It's because asking for clarification is considered bad here, either you are an idiot or you are bothering others. So their best choice is to say 'yes' and try to figure things out later. That's why I always ask my colleagues how would they complete some tasks instead of "Can you do this?".


I can personally attest to this, having hired a small team of Vietnamese engineers to do some freelance hardware and firmware/OS-level work for me.


>>Sometimes a plain "I don't know" can be very helpful in achieving a goal.

In a country like India where opportunities are scarce, saying no in many cases can mean permanently losing the opportunity to do something big.

Saying 'yes' and failing is a lot more better than saying 'no' and not trying at all.

If I'm not wrong this isn't just limited to India. I think it was Richard Branson who said something to the order of never saying no to an opportunity. Always learn and do it.


> Saying 'yes' and failing is a lot more better than saying 'no' and not trying at all.

Not for the person whose money you've spent on the failure.


It only indicates the person's failure and inability on not able to validate whether the yes the other person said is true or not and hence he deserves to loose money.


Not all failures are in the 'WW2 Normandy' Ballpark.

In fact in almost all cases, letting people fail is how let them learn.


We're not talking about hiring some interns and giving them room to fail here.

If I hire your firm and you tell me you can achieve an objective, then I spend money and come to find out you can't and you knew you couldn't, you've defrauded me. If I ask if you can perform a task and you tell me you know how, then I find out you have no idea, you've lied to me.

I'll take a "No, but I can figure it out" any day of the week, but lying is a cardinal sin in any relationship.


We are not talking about those sort of failures here. But almost everyone who has every written code, has failed or written buggy code at some point in time.

In fact I'm a tad little surprised that I'm having to sell the virtues of incremental failure in a forum that idolizes "Move fast and break things"


> We are not talking about those sort of failures here.

The thread is about working with Indian contractors who frequently lie, pretending they know what is going on. We are very much talking about this kind of problem.

> In fact I'm a tad little surprised that I'm having to sell the virtues of incremental failure in a forum that idolizes "Move fast and break things"

What I'm talking about is orthogonal to this. You can move fast and break things, but be straight forward to your manager about the risk involved.


Some people assume it is a yes when some one says no, but i can figure it out. Whose to blame here?


> Some people assume it is a yes when some one says no, but i can figure it out. Whose to blame here?

The point is that pretending to know does not open up the conversation of risk and reward, whereas "No, but I can figure it out" can and typically will. If, at that point, the manager drops the ball by not making sure the risk / reward profile is correct then it is no longer on the engineer.


[flagged]


...in any culture where you want trust and reliability.

If someone doesn't want to be reliable, that's their choice, but don't expect me to be willing to engage in business with them.


I only realized when I started traveling internationally how much we (perhaps over-) value reliability in the US. We really pay a lot in terms of work hours and stress to gain what is sometimes marginally more predictability and reliability.

In Mexico, Belize, southeast Asia, and southern Europe, I found everything to be much less reliable than I was used to. Everyone spent a lot time more waiting around. But I felt happier and more relaxed, and the people around me seemed to as well.

I think it might be more cultural than you seem to think.


It might be an artifact of the system-centric nature of our culture. We seek to reduce everything to predictable absolute rulesets, to make things regular and reliable and tractable. I'm not sure if this comes primarily from the Industrial era and mass-manufacturing which has a tremendous conformity component, or whether it comes mostly from the more recent advent of computers.

We so easily accede to someone who says "its policy" without considering that the person involved clearly outranks whatever policy is being dealt with. Perhaps we've not been burned by strict adherence to policy and expecting the world to be regular and predictable as recently as those other cultures. It might just be a temporary thing, but I don't know. We've got things like "personal space" which were a very American concept for a long time, but which has since spread, almost certainly with many negative consequences, widely. So maybe this desire for people to accommodate systems rather than for systems to accommodate people will spread too. We're screwed if that's the case.


...which is clearly the context of the discussion.


... in Christianity.


How so? Southern Europe is very relaxed in this sense culturally, and it's the most religiously Christian part of Europe at the same time. While atheist northern and central Europe (Germany, Netherlands, Scandinavia, Switzerland) place a lot of emphasis on reliability.

Sure you could argue that these nations are culturally Christian, but Christian culture still doesn't imply an emphasis on reliability.

At most I might agree with this being a case of the protestant work ethic, which seems to have a high correlation here (northern and central Europe as well as America is very much protestant, southern Europe is more catholic and orthodox).

However first of all most historians agree it's false, and second you get places like Germany, where the economic powerhouse is the catholic south (Baden-Württemberg has Porsche, Daimler (Mercedes), Audi and Bosch, Bayern (Bavaria) has BMW, the protestant North and East are more poor).


Lying is specifically spoken against in the New Testament [paraphrasing: "let your yes be yes"; and "be beyond reproach"]. AIUI lying is allowed in Hinduism [the means justify the end] and in Islam [if it furthers Islam, it can't be wrong].

However, just because it's lauded in Christian writings and by Christians doesn't mean that Christians are any better in this respect than others, "we are all sinners and fall short of God's glory" afterall.

I imagine Buddhism to have a similar focus on truth?


Yeah, and the problem with this is if you lie and get found out, you'll not get asked again in many Western companies.


Based on how politicians and how many second chances CEOs and other rich people get in the US I think its the same in US too.

Its just that if you are working minimum wage, or you are a spoke in the gig economy it's different for you.

Based on my experience working in the US, my American friends weren't very different. Its just that when you have sufficient you tend to worry less about over optimizing for the rainy days.

US is a different country in so many ways. US citizens are lucky to be born in such a great country, which supports its citizens through social security. And later with food stamps should the need arise. There is also awesome infrastructure like freeways and cheap air fare to move around based on opportunities. The cities are so full of opportunity. You also get free public education(Something like that is quite expensive in India.). Every city I saw where I stayed or visited(Who Bay Area, Philadelphia and NY) had parks, playgrounds. Every city had a swimming pool. Roads were sparkling clean and people were so welcoming. Plus food in the US is cheaper than chicken feed. If you can cook, rice, veggies and lentils are just like walk in the park. Meat too, you can afford to eat twice or thrice in a week. In my 3 years stay, I only have good things to say about the US. The full story is impossible to write. But I just can't imagine how anyone born in US can ever complain about lack of opportunities or ability to make a good life.

When you live in heaven, you tend to worry a little less about putting food on the table.

India is different. You have none of this. And its on your shoulders. Ensure your hands work till you die, or you will die.

Saying no to opportunities is very very expensive in India.


> India is different. You have none of this. And its on your shoulders. Ensure your hands work till you die, or you will die.

It was same in any country of the world just century ago. I.e. Indians are doing that not because of economic situation (which is much better than century ago), but because of culture. And culture is result of moral principles, which are moderated through punishments and support.


>Saying no to opportunities is very very expensive in India.

Unfortunately lying about your skillset is very expensive in the long term as well.


Cannot agree more.


Well, if what he's saying is true.. then you'd lose the chance by saying no anyways. So getting caught lying is the same result as not lying.

It'd only be useful to be honest if you do have a skillset, and the company has a reasonable chance of reaching out to you fot the skillset in the (near?) future


"Well, if what he's saying is true.. then you'd lose the chance by saying no anyways. So getting caught lying is the same result as not lying."

That's only true locally. Globally, you've got a variety of reputations, for yourself, for your firm, and whether or not you like it or consider it fair, for your country. You're burning all of those things. This will eventually catch up to you, your firm, and your country if withdrawals exceed deposits. This is, of course, a global truth, not an India-specific truth.


I've had a bunch of IT projects (almost) go off the rails because of this cultural "misunderstanding".


One thing I observed when interviewing candidates for offshore positions was that people wanting more senior technical roles wasn't as strong as here in US.

Granted this is anecdotal from interviewing maybe a couple dozen people out of whatever giant number of IT people in India.

Just wondering if there is a cultural/societal push towards the management/boss level that diminishes value towards senior technical roles?


Do you really find this to be just an Indian / non-US thing? From the time I was twenty (twenty years ago) it was pretty apparent that there was a lot more money over on the management side of things. At forty, the number of 20 and 30-somethings all snorting and fighting for promotions makes it pretty clear to me this is not a generational or cultural thing. Everybody wants more money, responsibility, title, power, etc. In a country of a billion people where a tech job represents a path out of poverty, it isn't surprising to me that you'd see the same behaviors.


Money and power. Technical tracks don't really have much of a growth path in India, and especially in service firms, where the work itself doesn't really add much to your technical skillsets.

Often the challenging/interesting bits in those scenarios are done by the US/European/Australian office, and only the implementation details are left to the Indian workers. That isn't conducive to being valued as an engineer.

Management tracks also have higher salaries. If you want to continue in engineering and still make good money, you get a H1B or equivalent and move.


Things have changed significantly and management purges are very common. And once you lose your job, finding a new one is hard, because to be frank you have no real skills apart from Microsoft Excel.

In many cases there have been people who lost jobs and didn't get a new job in over an year and had to move tech roles eventually. Some people had to change career tracks(get into marketing etc) permanently. So there is now a dedicated incentive to stay in the technical track.

Also in the current age, moving to a non-tech job is the long term equivalent of choosing a non-STEM career.


>Just wondering if there is a cultural/societal push towards the management/boss level that diminishes value towards senior technical roles?

To an extent I felt similar working for average tech shops in Montreal, Canada. I moved to California to live and work in a culture where the IC track is real and highly valued (which is fantastic).


Yes totally true. Would be hard to impossible to find a someone with solid 10 years of technical experience who is still in a technical role by choice. You would be expected to ‘lead’ teams instead of craft great products


I didn't realize this behavior was so common but I have noticed it in a few Indian tech people I have worked with state-side. Extremely frustrating when the answer to "Do you understand what you need to do now?" is "yes" then a few hours later you find them standing around looking confused. I had assumed it was a language barrier thing.


If someone asks me, "Do you know how to do X?" I tell them yes only if I know.

If someone asks me, "Can you do X?" I tend to say yes, even if I don't, because, really, I can learn almost anything related to what someone might be asking me to do.


I have never seen any rickshaw driver say yes to some place that he doesn't know. Either he will say he is not sure and he will stop at a place and inquire for u with people nearby and then take you to the place or most of them have google maps and can look it up if you cant by urself. Since they are pretty hyperlocal even without maps they can simply by talking to couple folks here and there figure out the right destination or by looking around a little as they may have seen the same place a while back.

You seem to have internet access, so clearly without asking him to choose the route you could have seen the maps and given the route yourself which many smart people do these days to save time and if you are not able to identify a route and are at the mercy of the rickshaw guy then may be you should have some patience and be thankful to the driver for figuring out the route and taking you to the destination.

Or may be they can be smart and ask for fees if they have to find the route and if u set the route then separate fees for that.

I guess one needs to learn the art of comparison since comparing random stuff will yield pointless opinions of no value.


I have personally seen a rickshaw driver in India say yes to some place that he doesn't know - resulting in him going to a wrong place, stopping there and inquiring for me with people nearby and then having someone look it up on google maps, and afterwards going in the opposite direction to clarify the proper place once more there.

And I'm certainly not thankful for the driver to have taken all this effort of solving the difficult problem of going somewhere that he doesn't know the road; I'm angry about the large unnecessary delay caused by them saying "yes" and then being unable to properly fulfil the promise they made, i.e. go to the goal as if they had known where it is, which they said (thus, promised) they do, and didn't. I wasn't asking "are you willing to take extra effort to deliver me to place X in some way" (which is a reasonable question that I might have asked in some circumstances, but I didn't in that particular case), I was asking "do you know the route to place X". I would be thankful if they had just said "no", as I would have had the chance to find someone who does know the proper answer themselves.

This is a significant cultural difference - in my country, answering yes when if you're not sure (and demonstrating the lie by being unable to fulfil the promise on their own) would result in that person's words not being respected anymore because that person isn't honest, and that person being shunned, not being trusted with anything serious ever again until they prove that they have changed significantly; a single incident being considered sufficient to mark the person as untrustworthy. Breaking a promise or telling a falsehood - even an implied one to a stranger - is considered a very serious issue. The problem with this when working with people in Asia is that within a few months a majority of Asian coworkers generally have had at least one incident similar to this (saying, i.e. promising something that wasn't so) marking them as untrustworthy. Of course, as with any difference, it's an open question which one of the cultures should adapt to the other, or meet in the middle, but that's a quite fundamental difference.


You are using an experience with a driver to someone with an office job. That is not a fair comparison. The president of the US lies constantly. What does that say about US?


It was just an anecdotic example of a more general habit that also affects office jobs. I heard that directly from people who have an IT team in India, and the answers here at HN also seem to imply that this is a wider shared experience.


Most people including me are not experts in culture. I am not defending bad behavior. I am yet to find one single defining culture in the US and I have lived here 20 yrs. May be the rickshaw driver was being helpful. Hey you seem to not know where you are going... I don't know either so let's figure this out together... There is room for that interpretation too. I have been scammed by hospitals and HVAC guys in the US.

Overall, I see a pattern of degrading, second classing of non-whites by whites. This needs to stop.


Well, I agree with you about the point that what we perceive as "culture of a country" is often a made up construct which doesn't account for the variety of backgrounds and behavior of the citizens. It really is very hard to definitly say x is part of "the" culture of the country y.

However, what is here being discussed is not a second classing of non-whites by whites. First, how do you know that I or the persons from whom I heard about the problems with their Indian IT teams are white? You just assume that. Second, it seems that there really are issues working with some IT teams in India. Why is it wrong to attribute this to a certain work ethic? Or more prescisely: Why do I second class non-white people when I describe the work ethic I'm experiencing? Man, I lived in Germany, US and India (for a short time at least), and let me tell you, there are different work ethics in these countries. And there have nothing to do with the color of your skin. But true, mostly generalisations are unjust. But people here are describing what they experienced. And it doesn't feel for me like it is linked to skin color.


Thank you for agreeing on some parts of my comment.

The parent comment that I reacted to did not sound as sincere as yours. I am not assuming you or the previous commenter as white. It's not about the individual but rather my point is about the larger society, it's cultural institutions that have historically "whitewashed" the whole world. All of our experiences are colored in that sense. This needs to change. In fact, it's vital when worlds are coming together.


[flagged]


More like a russian troll


Fair enough. What does this have to do with the Original Topic? Are you just looking for a place to rant?


Oh it has a lot to do with the topic in discussion


While the article doesn't explicitly make the association, I get the impression that a lot of HN readers make the assumption that India's tech sector is synonymous with its IT services industry. Not so. While it is true that IT services is plateauing, that is not so with the tech sector as a whole. E-commerce, cloud-computing, fintech are exploding in India driven by a massive domestic market demand and an ability to reach global markets easily. There is a new breed of product startups out of Bangalore and other places that are born global (e.g. Zoho). They build products (not services) for the world, and not just India. Inward investment into the Indian tech sector was the highest it ever was (though still dwarfed by investment into the US tech sector and China's tech sector) https://www.business-standard.com/article/specials/2017-saw-... So the doom and gloom are not quite accurate. Yes IT services may have plateaued after two decades of torrid growth, but tech is doing fine thank you.


Tech is doing fine, but India definitely dosen't have the homegrown talent to cater to the new wave of startups.

The fault is the Indian education system, which silences creativity, encourages rote learning and focuses too much on numbers on report cards.

Its really sad and alarming here. (I am from India). There are whole generations of students, who, from their early schooling, right up to a Bachelor's degree in Engineering, are taught to memorize and spit out answers.

There are very few schools that actually teach creativity, problem solving skills, etc.

A few years back, when complaints were made against rote learning, schools have begun to give 'home projects' to kids, ostensibly to improve their creative skills. However, these projects devolved into internet searches, copy-pasting online articles and pictures and calling it a day.

Unless there is a revolution in the education system in India, it would be very difficult to have a large pool of talented problem solvers and creative thinkers.

Those Indians who are famous or are talented, are that way because they fought against the system or ignored it completely or have had good mentors.


> silences creativity, encourages rote learning and focuses too much on numbers on report cards

You can absolutely say that about the Chinese education system as well, and they seem to be doing OK.

I agree it's a shame that creativity is undervalued, if not outright suppressed, by the education system, but at the same time I don't think entrepreneurial spirit arises from formal education in the first place.


I don't know much about China's IT sector, but at-least in their manufacturing sector, they have built up a sizable manufacturing base, not by being innovative, but by being sweatshops for western countries, and, ahem, borrowing their IP.

Most Chinese companies that are on the radar now, like Xiaomi, have taken this path. They have learnt from western counterparts and built upon it.


As somebody whose career was linked to well being of the Chinese manufacturing sector I can say that manufacturing was on decline for quite a long time, with first symptoms appearing right at around 2009-2011.

The way the new mayor of Shenzhen ordered to bulldoze all factories in city center at around 2009-2010 shows how much esteem Chinese government has for entrepreneurship.

Can anybody imagine a governor of California ordering to bulldoze all silicon valley corporate campuses on a whim just because he wanted to have few hundreds more empty luxury shopping malls and 5 star hotels with blackjack and hookers?


Replacing SV corporate headquarters by skyscrapers would probably help lowering real estate prices a bit. And if Google had to rebuild their HQ it probably wouldn't even change quarterly income by a lot.


Entrepreneurial spirit generally doesn't emerge from standard formal education, but not much is done to suppress it, and there are often extracurriculars to encourage young entrepreneurs. Rote memorization also only gets you so far, often you get tested on how you arrived at an answer, not just on the answer itself. Understanding the process is just as important as knowing it.

Perhaps this is a bit like the schooling of Bolshevik Engineers versus American Engineers, the former had a much reduced curriculum that helped the USSR catch up in engineering talent on paper, meanwhile those engineers were missing key concepts that you need to understand to build planes, bridges and similar that won't spontaneously degrade.


Fun part is, high school is/was the other way. USSR curriculum was full of stuff that 99% of students wouldn't ever use. There was little incentive to use anything in practice. You had to memorise, pass test and then you can forget it. This practice continues to this day in big parts of ex-Soviet sphere. I had plenty of teachers who took pride in saying that "stupid Americans learn this only in university!". Yet Americans I meet remember what they learned and know who to put it to use. Meanwhile I don't remember jack shit :D


> I had plenty of teachers who took pride in saying that "stupid Americans learn this only in university!"

Can absolutely confirm this saying for Romania of the late '80s and throughout all of the '90s (so, even after the Wall had fallen).


It's still the same logic even today. Worst thing, updates programmes double down on pushing even more facts. While PISA scores are getting worse and worse. I guess it will take few generations to forget about glorious soviet schooling :(


You highlighted a very important. Getting degrees for sake of getting degrees.

This is a big thing in India too. People become engineers and then decide what they want to do.


My teachers and peers and even parents used to say this and I would always be mighty proud of it.


We got Shakespeare.


> A few years back, when complaints were made against rote learning, schools have begun to give 'home projects' to kids, ostensibly to improve their creative skills. However, these projects devolved into internet searches, copy-pasting online articles and pictures and calling it a day.

That's not really unique, many American school children do the same for their homework. It's a time-honored tradition (at least since the internet has existed).

Sometimes I wonder if the whole point of school isn't just to teach children how to game systems, which will be a useful skill in corporate jobs.


You can design homework in a way that it's easier to solve yourself than copy the answer. Unfortunately, that's a lot of work so that few teachers do it. But I had several where copy-pasting never worked.


Ah even before the internet was widely used you would go to the library and copy stuff out of encyclopedias. It just took longer :)


I was relatively young in the long-long-ago when there was no internet. I rephrased things from encyclopedias and biographies because the original wording was long and I was lazy. I'm unsure if that counts the same as copy-pasting because I still had to read and have a basic understand of what I'd read.

It's possible people who were older at the time just straight-up copied the text though. I wouldn't be surprised.


No - foreigners (ie non Indians / Chinese etc) are missing this fact : there’s 40 students to 1 teacher in india, or more.

The exam and grading workload is unserviceable.

This is the crux of it.

And it’s the crux of MANY MANY other problems human beings face every day!

Recruitment ? How do you prove that this person is actually an expert in his field/as good as he says he is withiut tying up my entire tech team in test checking?

Online communication ? How do I know this information is correct? Who can provide proof of work for this comment?

Testing is onerous- And when incentives and resources are inverted/out of Sync, it’s not possible to test effectively.

This is the hidden factor.

If all Indian/Chinese teachers could turn around tomorrow and complete assessments accurately, rote learning would drop dramatically.

Failing that you must resort to large scale standardized testing. Which humans optimize for by just learning the test.


>>The exam and grading workload is unserviceable.

The standard testing in India, at-least for engineering, medicine, civil services and CA is unforgivingly fierce. Kids sacrifice everything, like everything to qualify for a seat at engineering colleges. Even in so called tier-2/3 colleges seats for Electronics/Electrical/CS go like hot cakes. I remember in my batch all students were the top most Math students in their individual pre-university colleges.

In many ways these exams are a giant filter to select people into STEM careers. The effects last way after. Even the most successful non-STEM desk job guy will tell you the immense difference STEM and non-STEM salaries, overall job perks and career quality in general. And kids watch their uncles and elder cousins in these situations all the time. And are forced to work hard.

Every year these tests get harder, and kids train even more harder.

I have younger cousins in US, and I jokingly tell them they won't last a few months in the fierce competition here in India.

But like everything, continuity is required. Once people arrive at jobs. They sort of lose all the momentum, coast around and eventually to settle to mediocrity. Or worse resort to politics and things like that.


>No - foreigners (ie non Indians / Chinese etc) are missing this fact : there’s 40 students to 1 teacher in india, or more.

Growing up in a poor Seattle suburb in the '80s, that was very close to the (public school) student-teacher ratio we had as well. The school my youngest two attend now is significantly improved in this regard, but I suspect 30+ to one is still not uncommon around the country.


Well, you always had to rephrase it. Being that the number of possible sources were pretty limited it would be easy for the teacher to catch you plagiarizing heh.


>>Tech is doing fine, but India definitely dosen't have the homegrown talent to cater to the new wave of startups.

The opposite in fact. The whole ecosystem is overflowing engineers. But what start ups want is people who can work for quite literally free, take no equity and work and make great sacrifices to make other people win(See Redbus, Foodpanda etc).

>>The fault is the Indian education system, which silences creativity, encourages rote learning and focuses too much on numbers on report cards.

So just like everywhere in the world?

Also the many start ups won't touch your resume if you don't have IIT education. So much for not caring about 'report cards'. Report cards have value because the same start ups care about these things. You can't flip flop on certain values based on what ever is your urgent need.

>>There are whole generations of students, who, from their early schooling, right up to a Bachelor's degree in Engineering, are taught to memorize and spit out answers.

When you go interview at Google, the white board questions are literally your ability to become a question-answer bank of algorithm question.

If you want to value pure ingenuity you need pay for it. You can't ask for one and complain you wanted the other.

>>A few years back, when complaints were made against rote learning, schools have begun to give 'home projects' to kids, ostensibly to improve their creative skills. However, these projects devolved into internet searches, copy-pasting online articles and pictures and calling it a day.

That is because there is a level how much of original creativity one can generate.

>>Unless there is a revolution in the education system in India, it would be very difficult to have a large pool of talented problem solvers and creative thinkers.

The revolution has been there for long. But companies interview for one set of skills and expect candidates to demonstrate a totally different set of skills at work.


"...these projects devolved into internet searches..."

This is the 3rd millennium. Learning how to ask questions and find answers is a core competency. Along side critical thinking and problem solving, of course.

I now keenly remember a 4th grade teacher who would drill the entire class with random trivia style questions. "Where is the capital of Botswana?" "What is the root word for 'homage'?" And us teams of kids would race to find the answers. Great fun.

If home work assignments are easily fulfilled by quick searches and copypasta, the teacher is being lazy, not the students.


> these projects devolved into internet searches, copy-pasting online articles and pictures and calling it a day.

In every education system I've ever participated in, that's how the majority of students deals with homework. I saw it in Germany from primary school to university. I saw it at a Chinese university. I saw PhD students get called out for copying from each other, with the TA writing "at least don't be so obvious about it" in the course chat. (Then he deleted the message for plausible deniability, of course.)

I'm convinced that it's like this everywhere in the world. Creative problem solving is hard, and most students are constantly struggling to keep up. If they have no motivation to learn, there is not much that educators can do to make them learn. That wouldn't be such a problem if there weren't the motivation to be able to claim that they learned about something, when in fact they didn't.

There are measures that can prevent cheating (today I got a warning that jammers would be in use around Chinese high schools to prevent cheating during the national exams), but you can't always enforce that students are actually studying instead of just pretending to. In the end the responsibility lies with the student to make an honest attempt before they resort to copying.

I agree that such an education system doesn't create a large pool of talented problem solvers, but no country has a system that achieves that. The system is for everyone else, those who wouldn't even pretend to learn if they weren't forced to do so.


> India definitely dosen't have the homegrown talent to cater to the new wave of startups

That may be true, but I've always just assumed the talent leaves. It's a big-ass place, with smart people, and lots of people in IT -- I've always assumed that anyone I speak to at an outsourced firm is someone who wasn't smart enough to get a tech job abroad.


I believe this is third world countries problem not only India. In indonesia, my homeland, it also become problem, we focus to much on memorization while doesnt really care about problem solving


The problem is that we manufacture very little, and a disproportionate part of our GDP is services. If you take away services, there's not a lot of money coming into our economy. The size of our economy is tiny in comparison (smaller than UK's) and per-capita income is one of the lowest - there's not a lot of headroom to grow for companies targeting the domestic market.

The point I'm making is, until manufacturing and industry take off, we won't offset exported IT Services with domestically focused tech of the "software" kind.


Does India actually want to grow manufacturing and industry though? Its notably more environmentally destructive, here in Seattle we're still cleaning up cadmium and other hazardous pollutants in the soil from Boeing's manufacturing partners from decades ago. Overall, considering the amount of remediation we've had to do, there are some industries that cost us more than they ever earned.


Boeing was the backbone of international and local airlines for decades. It seems to have been worth it.


Yes. India is a poor country. Indeed a very poor one. But that does not necessarily constrain the growth of its tech sector.

First, tech growth is not primarily about domestic per capita income or demand for software in the country. It is about exporting products while also catering to a rising domestic demand. i.e. use domestic demand to find product market fit and then expand globally. So global demand is more relevant than domestic per-capita income.

More importantly manufacturing itself is changing in ways that are lowering capital costs and the barriers to entry into manufacturing. The trend in IoT is an example of that. A lot of new products will primarily be driven by a combination of hardware and software capabilities. Skills that are reasonably widely available in India. (Although China has vastly more talent there.) That positions India in a reasonably good place. So I'm optimistic that domestic tech manufacturing will grow well, but not in the traditional way, such as building semiconductor fabs. It will mostly come from many small companies that make niche-products serving and possibly dominating a narrow global market, with high margins. That's were the employment will come from. An example of this is a company that makes automation kits to convert traditional backhoes into remotely operated machines. The technology requires a combination of software, electronics and mechanical components. And Indian companies (or for that matter companies anywhere) that integrate well into global supply chains for these will do well.


> Yes. India is a poor country. Indeed a very poor one. But that does not necessarily constrain the growth of its tech sector.

That is simply not true. You could grow anywhere, it's different shades of difficulty though.

> It is about exporting products while also catering to a rising domestic demand.

The revenue from exported domestically made software/tech products, compared to the size of the IT Services industry is miniscule. Almost nothing.

> So I'm optimistic that domestic tech manufacturing will grow well, but not in the traditional way, such as building semiconductor fabs.

As an economy, we should strive for depth - rather than just mate hardware imported from China with some software. Such work is easy to replicate, and is not very different from IT Services in how challenging it can be. Semiconductor fabs however is the kind of thing we should get into.

Basically, an industrial base which manufactures hardware (and other real physical things) is harder to grow than software.


>>The revenue from exported domestically made software/tech products, compared to the size of the IT Services industry is miniscule. Almost nothing.

This is a very interesting point. Only recently I had a discussion about this with a colleague.

The painful fact about big salaries in India is either US pays it or a VC pays it. Or you go the services way where some one does the work over the years and has build a company for you, then they pay you services salary(But that is again from the US.).

So its just US or VCs. If you build a company in India and pay you can't pay much.


But in todays world, is not manufacturing anything an issue? Does UK manufacture even a safety pin, and they seem to be doing ok, by and by, focusing on services, financial businesses, licencing and IP etc..


UK does not have 1.2 billion human population which is not particularly skilled, educated, wealthy.

Concentrating on only one aspect can give answers which we like. Different societies e.g. America, Japan, Russia, UK or China have developed in different ways. I think of 3 basic factors: sophisticated population, lot of land, powerful political system. At least one or combination of more than one is required for rapid development.

India has none of these so it will be painful, long and slow path to development.


The UK has a fair amount of high-tech manufacturing (In terms of value, the manufacturing industry in the UK is bigger than it's ever been). Things like MRI machines, jet engines, etc are all manufactured here.


Yep. I'm 4 years exp software engineer in the Bangalore/Indian startup ecosystem. I don't doubt that the services sector is declining but there's a decent talent pool. At the same time, a good number of American Product companies/High-Valued startups have opened up their Indian counterparts to produce software that's super costly to build in the US.

But, I do hope that we shift our focus inward rather than towards US or somewhere. There must be enough demand as it is in India.


I've tried Zoho and it's the most unreliable, "ghetto" thing I've ever tried (for lack of better words). UX/UI-wise, it looks like it was slapped together by a bunch of amateur programmers.


I think another way to look at it:

Many Indians who were legitimately good ended up in high paying jobs where they then used that money and skill to emigrate to countries with more comfortable standards of living. In my area, the Indian immigrant community has exploded, and almost entirely within the technology sector to start with, but now rapidly expanding to other areas as family members sponsor other family members and so on.

The wonderful halo effect is of course that family members who immigrated with the technical household head, but don't work in tech, are now employed at, opening and running all manner of businesses as well.

As a result I have a vast community of new, highly skilled and educated neighbors who are also ambitious and motivated.


This exactly. Someone in another thread mentioned worker turnover. Turnover is a result not just management challenges, but incredible job mobility that comes with the demonstration of skill.


If you’ve ever been to India you see that clearly the general approach to things is just throw people at the problem. Why have one person inspecting your ticket when you can have four?

The problem with the Indian outsourcers is that they’ve broadly failed to move up the technology value chain. These firms were quite good at the “just throw a bunch of people at it” solutions to brute force get work done but the tech sector has moved on.

Need a company to give you 1000 mechanical turks to perform some tasks you haven’t been able to automate yet? Go to an Indian outsourcing firm. Need some people to design technology to make the mechanical turks no longer required? That talent is generally not found within these Indian firms.

In that sense what McKinsey said in the article is probably true. Advances (largely built elsewhere) will probably make 80% of what these firms do irrelevant in the next few years.


It seems to me, time and time again, India, ( actually pretty much all the other BRIC ) are trying to copy China without actually understanding how and why China got there in the first place.

10 to 15 years ago one would have thought India to be better in programming, largely due to English for Chinese are not as common. Turns out with a whole Ecosystem, China has been able to adopt and produce some very decent engineers.

There is nothing wrong with throwing people at the problem. You create jobs and employment, there are still industries and area in China continue to do this. But you must also acknowledge how this is a temporary solution and what needs to be done afterwards.


This doesn't happen because Indian politicians still fight elections based on religion


In my own observation the use of outsourcing to India (in terms of market share) has been declining for years. Either being replaced by work done here in Copenhagen or in countries nearer by - Poland in particular.

As a practioner; I cannot say that I miss working with projects outsourced to India. I really hope that you guys learn a less bureaucratic and hierarical way of working and you as a country become more focused on internal demand.


"I really hope that you guys learn a less bureaucratic and hierarical way of working"

These generalizations make as much sense as me telling a random American HN user "I really hope that you guys stop indulging your blood lust by invading other countries and killing millions of innocents to make profits for your munitions industry and you as a country become less bloodthirsty"

Most Americans are not killers, though the subset someone from an invaded country has encountered maybe. All Indians don't have a "bureaucratic and heirarchical" way of working, though the subset encountered by someone seeking cheap outsourcing may be.

If you try outsourcing dev to China you'll encounter the same 'bureaucratic and hierarchical' ways of working, but they have massive product companies that are on par with anything in America. So the reason why India doesn't yet have dominant software product companies lie elsewhere.

Meanwhile these 'hopes' that "you guys learn to be less bureaucratic" are just sneers and stereotyping in disguise.

As a stereotype "bureaucratic ways of working" can be applied to Germany (for example) or Japan, or Korea, and while I'm sure there are bureaucratic Germans, they seem to doing fine economically.

But,carry on. This is the internet.


Yeah.

We should be careful with generalizations; and it is easy to go overboard in a short general sentence (like I did).

However there is such a thing as differences in work culture. And it is very reasonable to talk about differences amongst countries. And on the mentioned scales (bureaucracies and hierarchies) Denmark and India sit on each their extremes.

That India's IT-industry has been driven by external demand is just a fact as far as I know.


Well, India's industry has been driven by _market demand_.The market for large scale app dev work has been more profitable and better outside of India because there was more money chasing those projects outside of India. If you want to be a successful business, sell what people are buying.


>I really hope that you guys stop indulging your blood lust by invading other countries and killing millions of innocents to make profits for your munitions industry and you as a country become less bloodthirsty

That's a sentiment a lot of us share about America though. You seem to think Americans are the only people criticizing other countries? Stereotypes aren't born in a vacuum. Americans keep putting worse people in power, the latest of which being Trump. Indian outsourcing is troublesome to work with. And my country, France, has a problematic economy and we have a hard time keeping talent here instead of fleeing for better paying countries. All places have their issues. You don't make issues disappear by acting like they don't exist or focusing on the minority that behaves differently.


Anytime someone criticize India, people always come to defend it. As an Indian I disagree with you completely. It gives me anxiety when I think about dealing with employee of another office. I only do that if there is no other option. We should learn to accept criticism when it's valid instead of coming up with excuses. Also your whole comment is whataboutism.


I am not 'defending India'. I could care less about what people think of India. I am not a nationalist or 'patriot'/desh bhakt and have no problems with criticisms of any country or institution. FSM knows India and Indian institutions need plenty of criticism.

I'm just pointing out lazy forms of argumentation, essentially generalizing from narrow experiences, or media propagated stereotypes about millions of people, which is why I explicitly created a sentence of the same form substituting a stereotype about the USA.

My constructed 'criticism' is just as much out of whack as the original, and has no 'truth' in it, when made as a general statement about all of "Americans" / or more condescendingly "you guys".

There doesn't seem much of a link between 'bureaucratic work cultures' and size of the economy (Germany, China, Korea, Japan)

If you didn't understand that point, I don't know what to say.

I'll just say YMMV, and leave it at that.


Indians are fixated on certifications. My friends still can't believe that I make the kind of money I make without a CS degree (I studied literature). And when I tried to hire someone when I tried building an agency, the only thing candidates kept emphasizing was their degree and certificates, not their skills.


> Indians are fixated on certifications.

It acts a filter, when you have couple of hundred people for a job application, you cannot read each and every CV but you can easily narrow down your search by saying candidates having XYZ certification will be shortlisted.


Wow, that sounds quite sad that they define their self-worth by some piece of paper given to them, and not by what they can accomplish with the skills they have gained. A degree does not make a competent employee from what I've experienced.


Yeah but even in US, this whole college education has become a thing in the current times.

Degrees have been used as a filter for many jobs internationally for a while now.


The problem is this: how do you entrust that the right people are getting into any institution (college, jobs, etc). There are two broad approaches: standardized testing vs. application/interviewing. The Western mindset predominantly favours approach #2 in most contexts, with standardized testing being a factor only in college admissions (in my knowledge). Interviews and essays (to continue the college admissions theme) are good ways to get an insight into the mind of the prospective student, but the crux is that they are interpreted subjectively and not objectively. This keeps a window for bias to creep in. Harvard University had instituted standardized entrance exam; they later scrapped it because of those who passed the exam, a large portion were Jews[0]. Standardized testing is an approach to selection that avoids this kind of direct bias, which is why it was selected as a way to ensure that all communities receive the same opportunities to educate their children (not that this worked out in practice).

[0] https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/expose/book/cloak-meritocrac...


Essays and interviews are a thing of the past. I believe they are only used when students' applications are near the borderline?


It's incredibly hard from a recruitment point of view. A degree in the US, even from a mediocre university, at least means that the student is capable of some amount of hard work and application.

But in India, colleges simply don't fail kids. Some others inflate their grades just for bragging rights ("our students had an average score of 80%).

So every time I see an application from a college that I haven't heard of (which is pretty much every college apart from the top ones), I would be skeptical: can this kid actually work hard or am I just wasting my time?


> that sounds quite sad that they define their self-worth by some piece of paper given to them

That sounds sad to you because you are looking at it from a Western perspective, when you have couple of hundred people interested for a job you can use a certification to filter lot of the candidates.


And like any metric that is easier to "game" you end up in the situation where a bunch of people go for the easy route of taking certifications because they act as a filter and that same filter doesn't work as intended because people are gaming the system.

It's much harder to game a system where evaluation of a candidate's skills is the filter, to game this you become a cheater.

Of course that it's also harder to scale but if India has such a huge problem in filtering candidates there must exist some companies doing good skill-based assessments and that should be the way forward.

Or just keep the status quo of needing to take certifications and competing with unqualified people that have the same papers you have, for me it's a race to the bottom.


> It's much harder to game a system where evaluation of a candidate's skills is the filter

Agree, which is why some Indian companies have started using skills based assessment websites now.


<sarcasm intent="juxtaposition with American groups seen as obsessed with pieces of paper"> Sounds like someone didn't get into Harvard

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