Kris Gopalakrishnan, 60, put his money where his heart is. Co-founder of IT bellwether Infosys, he spent around Rs 1 crore to develop an app that chronicles the history of the Indian IT industry. The app's name, itihaasa, means history and the first two letters highlight the core subject of the app.
Available on iOS and Android, the free app has 600 videos. It features interviews of 44 IT stalwarts such as F.C. Kohli, founder CEO, TCS; Dr V. Rajaraman, former chairman, Supercomputer Education & Research Centre, IISc; Dr H.N. Mahabala of IIT Madras; N.R. Narayana Murthy, founder, Infosys; Azim Premji, chairman, Wipro; S. Ramadorai, former CEO and MD, TCS; Nandan Nilekani, former CEO, Infosys; and N. Vittal, former chairman, Telecom Commission.
THE WEEK met Gopalakrishnan at the Bengaluru office of Axilor, a startup incubating firm, which he founded with other IT honchos. “The IT industry has changed the perception of entrepreneurship in India,” he said. “Today, the Indian IT and business process management industry employs 3.5 million people and contributes 9.5 per cent of our GDP. From a single modern computer in the early 1950s, today the industry generates close to $150 billion of revenue. I always cherish this fascinating journey.”
After spending 35 years in a digital environment, Gopalakrishnan wanted the project to be an app. Hence, this unique digital library which spans 60 years of the industry. “I felt itihaasa would benefit the present generation in the industry as they would learn about its transformation over time,” he said. It took Gopalakrishnan & Co almost eight months to complete the app. Not surprisingly, two former Infosys employees were at the core of the project—Krishnan Narayanan and Dr N. Dayasindhu.
Narayanan said that though many of the articles and photographs were available in the public domain, there were no benchmarks they could refer to while designing the app. “The challenge was to set up linkages and commonalities on a common platform,” he said. “For instance, Narayana Murthy is an alumnus of IIT Kanpur. There were other personalities associated with IIT Kanpur and we had to set up tags to link common elements. This required a lot of effort.”
Dayasindhu was formerly part of the research team at Infosys and those skills came handy. “My research background helped me a lot and we successfully chronicled the whole history,” he said. “Narayanan and I conducted the interviews and ensured that all videos were shot in HD.” The duo met every interviewee twice. The video was shot on the basis of the information provided in the primary meeting.
Though Gopalakrishnan comes from the IT services industry, the app has a wider scope. “We have covered the hardware and the product industry and the birth of NASSCOM. I made sure that we covered the Satyam scam, too,” said Gopalakrishnan.
Here's a glimpse of what itihaasa offers. Which was India's first modern computer? It was an HEC-2M installed at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, in 1955.