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Indian Telecom Diaspora: The Success Called Idea

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VoicenData Bureau
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"If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed

some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of

life, and has found solutions to some of them even of those who have studied Plato and Kant>.... I should point to

India."

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Friedrich Max Muller



India, what can it teach us? 1882

Why do Indians succeed?

At one level, the answer to this question can be provided very

matter-of-factly. As Dr AnnaLee Saxenian says (see interview on page 54), it is

because of the right combination of talent, hard work, and social networking.

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The

True Technologist



Arun Netravali,

chief scientist, Lucent Technologies
Infrastructure

Expertise



Arun Sobti, CEO,

IP Unity
Multilayer

Master



Ashraf M Dahod,

President and CEO, Starent Networks
Network

Designer



Bharat T Doshi,

Director, advanced communications technologies, Bell Labs
Labors

of Laser



C Kumar N Patel,

Professor of physics, UCLA
Hosting

Hero



BV Jagadeesh,

Co-Founder, Exodus
Wireless

Warrior



Dayakar Puskoor,

Founder, JP Mobile
Applying

Mathematics



Debasis Mitra,

Vice-President, Mathematics Sciences Research Center
Broadband

Expert



Dev Gupta,

Founder, President and CEO Narad Networks
Internet

Insights



Gian Dilawari,

COO and Co-Founder, Gemplex Internet
Optical

Networking Entrepreneur



Gururaj Deshpande,

Co-Founder, Cascade and Sycamore Networks
Fiber-optics

Guru



Govind P Agrawal,

Professor Of Optics University of Rochester
Billing

Specialist



Inderpal Singh

Mumick
, CEO and co-founder, Kirusa
Accomplished

Algorithms



Hemant Kanakia,

CEO and co-founder, Gemplex Inc
Storage

Supremo



HK Desai,

President, CEO and chairman, QLogic
Wireless

Veteran



Jai P Bhagat,

Chairman and CEO of AIR2LAN
Telecom

Thinker



Jagdish N Sheth
Taking

on Intel



Jagdeep Singh,

President and CEO, Infinera
Multiplexing

Researcher



Jagdeep Shah
Rebounding

LAN



Jayshree Ullal,

Group V-P, optical networking group, Cisco
VLSI

Veteran



Kanwar Jit Singh,

co- founder, Xebeo Communications
Internet

Success



KB Chandrasekhar,

founder and CEO, Jamcracker
Industry

Veteran



Krish Prabhu,

venture partner, Morgenthaler
Fiber

Channel Champion



Kumar Malavalli,

founder, Brocade
Internet

Access Success



Mahesh Veerina,

co-founder, Ramp Networks
Melody

and Ventures



Mano Murthy, CEO

and co-founder, Allegro Systems
IPO

Maker



Mohan Gyani,

CEO, AT&T Wireless
Innovative

Systems Architect



Mukesh Chatter,

president and CEO, Axiowave
Father

of Fiber Optics



Narinder Singh

Kapany
, chairman, K2 Optronics
Quest

for Excellence



Prathima Agrawal,

assistant V-P (Internet architecture research lab) Telcordia

Technologies
More

Information per Strand



Partha Mitra,

scientist, Bell Labs
CDMA

Signaling Standard Developer



Prakash Panjwani,

V-P (worldwide embedded sales), SafeNet
Fastest

Data Switch



Prabhat K Dubey,

chairman, president and CEO Force10 Networks
Cisco

Challenger



Pradeep Sindhu,

founder, Juniper Networks
Semiconductor

Magic



Prakash Agarwal,

president and CEO, NeoMagic
Improving

Networks



Raj Parekh,

chairman, Comstellar Technologies
Bluetooth

Boomer



Rajiv Kumar,

co-founder and CTO Widcomm
This

Man Has no Peer



Raj Singh,

partner, Redwood Venture Partners
Networking

Foresight



Rohit Sharma,

senior V-P and CTO (metro networking group), CIENNA
MAN

Man



Romulus Pereira,

president and CEO, Riverstone Networks
Helped

Make the First Modem



Roshan Lal Sharma,

Adjunct professor, Southern Methodist University
The

Hotmail Legend



Sabeer Bhatia
The

Innovator Who also Built C-DoT



Sam Pitroda,

chairman and CEO, WorldTel
Rolling

out New Software



Sanjiv Ahuja,

founder and CEO, Comstellar Technologies
An

Enterprising Messiah



Santanu Das,

president, CEO and chairman, TranSwitch Corp
The

Erudite Investor



Suhas Patil,

chairman emeritus, Cirrus Logic
Man

with Midas Touch



Vinod Khosla,

partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Master

Tester



Vishwani D Agrawal,

Distinguished member of technical staff, Agere Systems

Hold on...social networking as an ingredient of success in the global scene?

We always knew Indians love social networking. But it to be put in the same

bracket as talent and hard work as the qualities that lead to success?

Yes, it is Dr Saxenian herself who has put it there. And she has argued

cogently to prove her point.

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So is it the factor?

When you consider Silicon Valley and entrepreneurship, it could well be.

However, when you take fields such as say, fine art or literature, where extreme

eccentricity may not be a barrier, how do you explain such success?

What is needed perhaps is a far deeper understanding of the Indian mind. And

there is a clue to that understanding, in the above words of Max Muller, an

Indologist par excellence. This is what he says, ‘pondering’ on the greatest

problems of life.

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The Indian mind is somehow naturally tuned to this pondering.

And it is this pondering over, this inquisitiveness, this constant

intellectual exercise to find a solution to a problem, that may not be your own,

is what the Indian mind has considered supreme from time immemorial.

Most of us are familiar with the legendary tales of Isaac Newton’s

discovery of the gravitational force, George Steveneson’s invention of the

steam engine, or Marconi’s discovery of the radio waves. In all these great

intellectual breakthroughs of the modern time, the common and the most

fundamental can be called the inquisitive spirit.

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This inquisitive spirit is natural to the Indian mind. It is deeply

entrenched in the Indian mind right from the Vedic period–that is a few

thousand years before the Christian era began. Some of the questions that the

Vedic sages have pondered over, about all aspects of life–and not just

spiritual–are easily the greatest example of intellectual inquiry that can be

found in the history of human civilization.

And this path of intellectual inquiry–the path of knowledge–has always

been held in higher esteem than not just materialistic things but also the

religious rituals and rites.

This intellectual journey has given an unmatched status to ideas. The true

history of ancient India, to those who are fully familiar with it, is not a

history of kings and queens, not a history of battles and wars. It is a history

of ideas.

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So much so that many scholars feel India itself means much more than just a

political nation. It is an idea. Hinduism, the most predominant religion in this

country–if it can still be called by that somewhat restrictive word–is an

idea. And the one that encompasses so many ideas, sometimes so opposed to each

other.

This co-existence of seemingly opposing ideas–that not only tolerate but

also respect each other–is India’s greatest contribution to the world.

Something that is becoming fundamental to the new economy.

It is not holding on to your ideas but distributing it that makes you

powerful in the new economy. And no where is it practiced better than in the US.

And within the US, it is the Silicon Valley that is known for this. As

journalist Michael Lewis observes, Silicon Valley is to the US what the US is to

the rest of the world. It is a place where ideas rule. There free sharing is the

culture. The Indian mind does feel more at home in such a place than anywhere

else.

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That would probably better explain why Indians are succeeding more in modern

times. That also explains why many of them are succeeding in the US. It also

explains why most of them are succeeding in the Silicon Valley.

That is why you will find most successful Indians who are featured in this

issue are the ones who are intellectuals, who have reached there through their

innovative ideas, and constant intellectual effort to find solutions to the most

complex problems of the world of communications.

You will find a Pradeep Sindhu who thought that something could be done in a

much better way than it was being done then. And relentlessly pursued it. It

required another great Indian–Vinod Khosla–to recognize and respect that

idea.

All the Indians about whom you will read in this issue are changing the world

of communication in one way or the other. But unlike the past, researchers who

debated on and on about a specific theory, these intellectuals are sensitive to

the needs of the people. Coming from a third world country that has about 16.7

percent of the world’s population, they have seen and experienced some of the

acute problems of human society. Their approach to problem solving is more

realistic, more humane.

Take Sam Pitroda, who changed the face of Indian telecom in a span of a few

years, that no one arguably has done in any field in India at any time. He was

born in a village that had no electricity, had also never used a telephone

before he went to the US. Who can understand the needs of common people better?

You will read about Indians like Raj Singh who–unlike a Jim Clarke–does

not start with wealth creation in mind while starting a company and who–unlike

the researchers in labs–does not do it just to satisfy his intellectual need,

though he ends up doing both. His prime objective is ‘to fill the gap’–the

same thought that had once driven Alexander Graham Bell. The same thought that

had once driven Cristopher Columbus.

You will read about people like Dr Narinder Singh Kapany and Mano Murthy. Dr

Kapany, the father of fiber optics to the world of communication, is unmatched

by his contribution to the world of art. He introduced to the world what is

today known as Sikh Art. People who can well be called true examples of what

writer John Brockman calls the intellectuals of the ‘third culture’. He is

joined by people like Mano Murthy who is known to the world of entertainment for

a very different reason, he has actually scored music for some Kannada movies.

You will read about Dr Arun Netravali, who believes his mentor is Lata

Mangeshkar, though the melody queen would probably never understand what high

denition television actually is.

You will read about 49 such individuals who are changing the world of

telecom. Yesterday, many of them would have been cited as examples of brain

drain. Today, it is brain circulation that we talk about. By developing ideas,

making inventions, and building institutions–these Indians are contributing to

the betterment of human life throughout the world.

Measured from traditional economic terms, they are bringing investment back

to India and encouraging entrepreneurship here and catalyzing the technology

revolution in India.

But if India is truly an idea, if it is not just confined to the political

boundary, if it is Indianness that we should be celebrating, then the success of

Indians anywhere is the success of India. They have put the essential Indian

qualities–inquisitiveness, free sharing of ideas, social networking–to test

in solving the most complex problems of today’s world of technology. And they

have succeeded.

Isn’t that a victory for India?

Let us measure their contribution from a broader perspective. They are laying

the foundation for leading the world of tomorrow, when ideas will enlighten the

human race, when the political boundaries will become less relevant. And when

the whole world will become one big family. Again, something that our seers

noted thousands of years ago in the Rig Veda–vasudhaiva kutumbakam.

Shyamanuja Das

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