India has companies like TCS, Tech Mahindra, Infosys, HCL Technologies, Wipro, etc. that offer outsourcing for every kind of software related job. Many tech giants, including Microsoft, Google and Intel have their R&D facilities there. The country produces a huge number of engineering students (along with doctors and scientists) who are readily available to work for multinational corporations.
However, the country is nowhere to be seen in the global software development stage when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship. Beyond Hotmail, I don’t recall any major product or project that originated in India.
I grew up in India and so I am aware of the reason – it’s cultural and financial. Culturally, Indians prefer the stability that comes with a job at a big company rather than starting their own business. The second reason is financial. Parents invest heavily in the education of their children and want return on that investment. And getting a job, not starting a business, ensures a much more stable path for getting that ROI.
I know it because I went through it. When I told my parents that I wanted to become a writer they said ‘ok you can write, but you also have to find a full time job’. I come from the region where they go for government jobs. So lied to my parents, went to Delhi alone, met with renowned scholar Asghar Wajahat and started working as his assistant. I also started a mass communication course. My parents continued to believe I was preparing for IAS or Bank PO.
It was only when I got job as a senior correspondent with Linux For You magazine (in 2005) that my parents recognized that writing can be a full time job.
I remember asking Linus Torvalds if he recalled any top kernel developer from India and he didn’t. I don’t know any top Linux kernel developer who is from India. But I do know quite a lot of Indians active in the open source world. There is certainly talent; what the country lacks is ‘environment’ and ‘affordability’. And that’s exactly what the Linux Foundation seems to be trying to create.
The foundation has announced the availability of country-specific pricing for its Essentials of System Administration course and Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator exam for individuals in India. This makes India the first region in which the Linux Foundation will offer country-specific pricing on select training and certification products.
“Linux and open source software are built on a philosophy of contribution and participation that is based on skills and desire, not whether or not you can afford to participate,” said Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin. “Our role is to expand access, so as many individuals as possible can join the Linux community. This offering will serve as an entry point to a lucrative IT career with Linux to countless new professionals.”
The foundation didn’t launch this program out of some charity. They stated in their press release that “India, for example, is second only to the United States in inquiries regarding Linux Foundation training and certification but ranks among the lowest in Linux certification exam enrollment.”
The reason for low ranking is simple: cost. Indians are very cost sensitive due to low income, which could be blamed on population: there are more people to do a job and there will always be someone who will offer to do it for less. The result: Low income. The foundation understands this and that is why they chose it “as the first location for region-specific pricing.” In other words it means that they are offering the same course and exam cheaper in India to make it affordable.
The foundation won’t stop at India. They will consider additional regions to help increase access to Linux learning materials to anyone who seeks to pursue a lucrative IT career.
How to get enrolled?
Anyone with an Indian address and Indian credit card can register for a course plus exam bundle for an introductory rate of 5,000 Indian rupees (US$79).
Let’s hope the next major Open Source technology will come from India and instead of being a major consumer the country will also become a major contributor to the Linux and open source world.