IT India Digest is a periodic compilation of notable developments in India’s thriving tech community.
India’s IT industry is a fast-moving, ever-evolving environment. Each day seems to bring a hundred different IT-related happenings. While it is impossible to cover each tech-related event in-depth, we do our best to bring you items of interest to the industry. Here are three of this week’s interesting IT-related developments:
Unions come to Karnataka
Historically, unionization in India has been associated with the manufacturing industry, as a way to help factory workers demand higher wages, job security, and better working conditions. Although IT employees have been less willing to form unions, because of rumors of a blacklist of troublemakers by companies, the industry is about to experience some interesting changes.
On November 9, the Karnataka State Labor Commission certified the formation of the Karnataka State IT/ITES Employees Union (KITU) under the Trade Union Act of 1926 and Karnataka Trade Unions Regulations of 1958.
Some IT pros in Karnataka have long demanded the right to establish a trade union to address various employment issues like automation, unannounced layoffs, long hours and other unfair employment practices. Bengaluru, the state capital, alone has more than 1.5 million people employed in the IT industry, and the establishment of KITU is expected to recruit significant portion of them. India proper has more than four million people working in IT.
The main employment complaints deal with the appraisal process of companies claiming that they are not transparent and disregard an employee’s actual performance record. Union supporters allege that thousands of terminated employees were workers who were rated “good” in previous appraisals and even awarded by clients and their prior employer for their good work.
Additionally, many terminated employees claim that their former companies, in a bid to avoid severance pay, instead of letting them go, forced them to resign. Prior to the establishment of KITU, aggrieved IT employees’ only avenue of redress was taking their former employers to court.
“This is a significant moment for us, being the first dedicated IT employee union. The formation of the union was possible because there were enough number of IT employees facing (various) issues. We will be able to address these issues with vigor with the formation of an IT union,” Vineeth Vakil, general secretary of KITU told The Economic Times.
The National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) is finally going to get a woman’s touch. India’s IT lobby group, representing more than 2,100 homegrown and multinational companies, recently named Debjani Ghosh as its next president.
Ghosh’s appointment is significant because India’s $150 billion IT services industry has typically employed one woman engineer for every three male engineers, and just seven percent of women engineers ever made it to the C-suite in Indian tech companies.
Prior to this appointment, Ghosh was with the tech giant Intel for 21 years, serving most recently as their managing director for South Asia. In 2015, she was named president of the Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT), an Indian trade group representing scientific, educational, and IT players in the hardware industry. Ghosh was the first woman to hold that position since MAIT’s founding in 1982.
Ghosh has also served as a member of NASSCOM’s Executive Council and a trustee of the NASSCOM Foundation. She is currently an independent director on YES Bank’s board and a member of Cisco’s India advisory board.
As president, Ghosh will have a full plate of pressing issues facing the IT sector including the impact of automation and cloud technologies on India’s cost-arbitrage business model; stricter visa regulation with the U.S. and European Union and the industry-wide downturn in revenues. Ghosh will formally assume her duties in March of next year and is succeeding the current president, R Chandrasekhar.
Everyone enjoys a good selfie taken with friends in fun and interesting places. It is a way for us to tell others where we are and what we’re doing. Unfortunately, too many people are snapping these moments in unsafe places. So many in fact that the Mumbai police have identified 16 accident-prone zones in the city where selfie-related deaths are rising. The goal is to raise awareness of the risks of selfies at dangerous places like Mumbai’s iconic seafront.
The effort to promote taking safe selfies comes on the heels of a 2016 study: Me, Myself and My Killfie. In the title, “Killfile” is used to describe selfies taken under circumstances dangerous enough to cause your death.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in New Delhi scoured the world for media accounts of deaths that occurred while the individual was taking a selfie. They found 127 reported selfie-induced deaths worldwide between 2014 and 2016 — more than half of them in India.
While there is little official empirical data on deaths by selfie, the Mumbai police feel the issue is severe enough to warrant spending resources trying to prevent it. Prior to this year’s monsoons they tweeted a warning to citizens not to take selfies in heavy rains.
Fortunately, for selfie-takers, the Mumbai police Department isn’t fighting alone. Using their survey findings, IIIT built an app called Saftie, (a combination of “safety” and “selfie”) which launched in June and is currently is available for download for free on Android phones. Saftie sends users a text when they are near a location that poses a threat to selfie-takers.
The mobile giant, Samsung, recently put out a YouTube video warning of the consequences of taking a selfie in a dangerous situation. The video even has a message from Nitin Gadkari, India’s minister for shipping, road transport and highways, urging people to “use their mobile phones responsibly.”