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India leading Y2K charge
March 17, 1999: 8:01 p.m. ET

Cheap labor is leading many corporations to this hotbed of programming activity
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Software firm Infosys Technologies has made its debut on the Nasdaq, making it the first Indian company to go public in the United States.
     The company generates a significant portion of its revenue fixing the Y2K problem for overseas clients.
     Infosys is not alone. While some countries may shrink from the Y2K bug, India welcomes it. For India, the Millennium bomb has been a boon.
     IIS Infotech is another one of more than one hundred Indian software firms that are making money fixing the Y2K bug for multinational corporations.
     IIS tackles the grunt work: rewriting code to make software Y2K compliant. IIS Infotech boasts a blue chip list of clients: Citibank, American Express, G.E. and Prudential. And there's good reason many others, like Microsoft and IBM, are outsourcing the task to India.
     Phiroz Vandrewala, chief executive officer of Tata Consultancy Services, said, "We produce 100,000 engineering graduates every year. That kind of pool is just not available anywhere else in the world. And the reputation for India to establish and deliver quality software is well understood."
     Also well understood: cheap labor. Programmers in India make roughly $9,000 per year, less than 1/6th the salary earned by their American counterparts.

Programmers in India make only a fraction of what their American counterparts earn.

     Software exports, including services, have become India's fastest growing industry, expanding 50 to 60 percent each year.
     Those exports and services earned nearly $2 billion in revenue last year. Nearly 40 percent of that total came from Y2K contracts.

Revenues from Y2K related programming topped $680 million in 1998

     India is positioning itself to become a global force in software in the post Y2K era. A world bank survey says India has become the top overseas spot for multinational companies looking to outsource their software needs.Back to top


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