Indian industry group looks to enhance social connect

Country needs to groom IT capabilities beyond just software services and prep talent pool to support future growth, urges president of Computer Society of India.

INDIA--Local IT companies must now focus on skills development to ensure they are ready, from a talent perspective, to ride any upturn in economy and demand, according to S. Mahalingam, president of the Computer Society of India (CSI).

Mahalingam, who is also the CFO and executive director of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), spoke to ZDNet Asia about the role of the CSI in developing IT skills that are essential to support India's future growth.

The country's largest association for IT professionals, the CSI has played a pivotal role in shaping the Indian IT industry during its formative years. Today, it boasts of over 40,000 members including India's IT industry leaders, eminent scientists and leading academics.

Noting that the society aims to drive individual growth and development, Mahalingam explained that it focuses on creating an environment that will facilitate learning and help IT professionals keep pace with the changing needs of the industry.

For example, he said the CSI runs seminars and workshops to provide a common platform that can bring together all knowledge workers including students, scientists, academics and IT professionals.

Q. What are some of the lessons IT professionals in India have learnt from the recent global economic slowdown? And how has the recession impacted skills development in India?
Mahalingam: Leading IT companies today have a strong focus on skills development in order to ensure companies are ready, from a talent perspective, to take advantage of any upside in demand.

In the knowledge economy, the real formula for success calls on the need to learn continuously.

How does CSI then work toward helping its members develop skills for the future?
CSI has introduced a roadmap to create an ecosystem for professional development and address the larger cause of inclusive growth. Our strategic objectives under this roadmap include:

  • Creating an ecosystem that connects education, practice, research, government and society;
  • Enlarging the pool of employable IT professionals through focused industry-driven training programs;
  • To provide a professional learning network that will enable a knowledge economy in India;
  • To provide a digital library of knowledge assets to create industry-relevant intellectual capital; and
  • To help seed new innovations aimed at larger societal impact.

What are some of the targets you hope to achieve as president of CSI?
I would like to see more IT professionals become a part of the association and leverage existing and upcoming initiatives for learning and self-development.

I see the youth play a key role in the country's future and in the government's vision of inclusive growth. I would like to see an increased number of students leverage CSI resources for self-development.

In what ways are IT professionals across India working toward bridging the digital divide? What are some of the key initiatives the CSI is itself driving?
IT professionals in India are involved in several domestic and international projects that have a larger impact on the society.

Language computing, affordability and e-government are some of the key areas in which Indian IT professionals are working on. In the future, these opportunities will grow manifolds. Therefore, we need IT capabilities beyond software services.

We envision CSI to be a forum for professional development, to enhance social connect and bridge the rural-urban divide. This could be through professional development and research and development in areas like cloud computing, affordable computing, green IT, among others.

Going forward, this will drive large-scale societal impact and foster inclusive growth.

Swati Prasad is a freelance IT writer based in India.

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