If IT is so hot, why don’t IITians want to join it?

SUNAAD RAGHURAM forwards a February 19 story from the Times of India titled ‘A myth called the Indian programmer‘ by T. Surendar coinciding with the annual fair of Nasscom meet in Bombay recently.

The article makes the extraordinary, almost unbelievable, claim that out of the 574 IITians who graduated last year, just ten—yes, 10—joined India’s top-three IT firms. Software giants like Infosys and TCS dangle giant salaries but find it difficult to woo IITians who gravitate towards firms like Google and Trilogy.

Reason: The Indian software industry is largely process driven, not product driven.

In fact, at the Nasscom event, which brought together software professionals from around the world, not one of the 29 sessions dealt with programmers, the posterboys of the success of software firms, especially in a city like Bangalore.

As Surendar quotes a senior executive from a global consultancy firm: “It is an explosive truth that local software companies won’t accept. Most IT professionals in India are not programmers, they are mere coders.”

# Coders are like smart assembly line workers; programmers are plant engineers.

# Programmers are the brains, the glorious visionaries who create things. Coders just follow what they are told.

# Programming requires a post-graduate level of knowledge of complex algorithms and programming methods, coding requires only high school knowledge of the subject.

# Coding is also the grime job. It is repetitive and monotonous.

One candidate is quoted as saying: “The entrance test to join TCS is a joke compared to the one in Trilogy. That speaks of what the Indian firms are looking for.”

Coders feel stuck in their jobs, says the ToI article. “They have fallen into the trap of the software hype and now realise that though their status is glorified in society, intellectually they are stranded.”

True or false?