An April Fool prank post is a tradition here at PuneTech. This year, Hetal Rach suggested the idea that a prank involving an article written by Vivek Wadhwa would be a good idea. Based on this, we made up the whole article, all the statistics and graphs, and all the expert comments too.
We would like to apologize to Vivek Wadhwa for misusing his name like this. We did not contact him before publishing the article, so obviously did not have his permission to do so. We were not even expecting to be noticed by Vivek, so imagine our shock when the first comment on the article was by Vivek himself, pointing out that:
I have no idea why my name is being used here and is linked to my website. I have performed no such research and don’t believe that the metrics used here are valid.
We held the comment in moderation (so as not to give the joke away), and quickly contacted him over email to explain the situation. We are very thankful to Vivek for taking the whole thing with a sporting spirit.
Just so that it is clear to everybody, Pune’s IT industry is NOT going to decline. I’m sure it will see phenomenal growth. As Vivek Wadhwa himself said in his comment:
Pune may not be able to grow at its current rates, but I know of no reason why it should decline. To the contrary, it has built a stable of experienced engineers that are likely to want to start companies. They will boost entrepreneurship in the region.
I’m sure entrepreneurship in Pune is flourishing and will scale newer heights.
All of the “expert comments” in the “Reactions in Pune” section were made up by us.
Santosh Dawara is not joining Infosys (as far as we know)
Arun Prabhudesai is indeed focusing on the education sector as part of My Open Campus, but has no intentions of introducing Java in primary education, and certainly does not want to upset the powerful Geography lobby.
MrShri does want you to come to FourSquare Day Pune 2011 and find out for yourself.
Sahil Khan would really like you to visit yolkshire and eat a silky omelette
And I haven’t really checked, but I am certain that Rohan Dighe would heartily agree with his own advice that one should drink beer, write code, and let other people worry about the future.
This time though, most people figured out that it was a prank, and hence there are very few real bakras in the comments section. However, many people who figured it out, used the comments section to unleash their creativity, so it is well worth a read.
Update: Vivek Wadhwa left a detailed comment on this post, which we’re including in the post here for wider visibility:
Navin, there is no reason why Pune can’t become a center for entrepreneurship–build it’s own version of Silicon Valley. All of the ingredients are there. There is a highly skilled workforce, ambitious people who have experience and a desire to change the world, and relatively good infrastructure.
What is needed is for experienced entrepreneurs to start mentoring the fledgling, and for the creation of networks where people congregate, exchange ideas, and help each other. This is how Silicon Valley works and how Indians have become so successful here. One out of seven tech startups in Silicon Valley have an India CEO or CTO–which is amazing considering that Indians constituted just 6% of the Valley’s working population in 2000.
Pune can lead the nation in entrepreneurship and become a competitor to Silicon Valley itself if it does things right. This will take a decade or so to achieve, but is possible. You need to have the community get together and make this happen (note: I said community–not government).
And yes, the world is such a small place because of the internet and social media tools like Twitter, that articles like this reach people like me. I saw the Tweets which mentioned my name and wondered why you were using this in vein.
(Update: This article was a PuneTech April Fools Day Prank. A full apologyexplanation, is published here.)
(For the last 6 months, Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur academic, has been conducting a detailed study on the competitiveness of the tech industry in India, China and Indonesia. His detailed report is due next month, but since PuneTech was a data-collection partner, we have been given an early preview of a rough draft of the report. The full report goes into comprehensive detail for the tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 cities of all three countries, and we don’t have permission to publish that data, but we have picked a few excerpts relevant to Pune. Many thanks to Hetal Rach, Western Region Co-ordinator for Wadhwa Research for helping us make sense of the report.)
The India Story – Not Shining
(The next few paragraphs are taken from Chapter 2 of the report)
Much has been made of the rise of India as an IT powerhouse in the last 2 decades. The story has been nothing short of miraculous – with $76.1 billion in revenues, the IT software and services sector constitutes 6.4% of the GDP of India, and 26% of all Indian exports (up from just 1.2% and 4% respectively in 1998). Looking forward, the general consensus, especially of experts based in India, is that the next decade will continue to be one of high value-added growth. A popular opinion amongst industry watchers is that while the first decade of growth in Indian IT/ITES industry was fueled by IT/BPO outsourcing, and the second decade of growth was fueled by software product outsourcing, the next decade will see the rise of software products being built and marketed out of India. The thriving startup ecosystem in India (for example, national forums like Proto and Headstart, and the even more resurgent local forums like Pune Open Coffee Club) are seen as leading indicators of this change that is sweeping India.
It has been clear to everybody concerned that this growth cannot really be driven by Bangalore, the poster city for the revolution. Bangalore and other tier 1 cities are already bursting at the seams as far as infrastructure is concerned, and there exists a massive problem of talent acquisition and retention. The general consensus was that the primary drivers of growth in the next 5 years would be tier 2 cities like Pune and Chennai, and tier 3 cities like Indore and Nashik would start contributing after 2015.
Most of these predictions have been based on very superficial data, and in many cases, just on the gut feel of the experts. There hasn’t been an attempt at a systematic collection of data until now, and this report is based upon the findings of a first of its kind research project that we have conducted by going all the way down to tier 3 cities. Unfortunately for India, the results are not promising.
A Pulse of Pune’s Future
(The next few paragraphs are taken from Appendix E of the report)
The young and dynamic city of Pune, often referred to as the Oxford of the East, is an example of the second wave of growth of the Indian IT Industry. Although a historically very important city, since the merger of Mumbai into Maharashtra in 1960, Pune has had to live in the shadow cast by its big brother, and has often not gotten the recognition it deserved. However, with its large student population, much better quality of life than Mumbai, and the famous Puneri attitude, it was perfectly positioned to take advantage of the IT revolution, and had done so admirably.
Starting from almost nothing in the ’90s, it managed to reach the $1 Billion mark in software exports in 2004, and now, at $8 B, it is widely believed to be on the verge of exploding.
Unfortunately, though, all is not well. Just a half hour spent in the city (especially on a Thursday) will give an idea of the persistent problems that plague the city. Roads are a mess, and traffic is an increasing problem. The electricity board can barely keep the city on right now, and the problem is expected to get much worse in the next few years. A bigger problem is that the city’s famed educational institutions are turning out, to quote the colorful phrase of a frustrated city CEO, “half-illiterate idiots,” and finding talent is becoming more and more like looking for a needle in a haystack.
As a consequence, Pune fares rather poorly on the Wadhwa competitiveness index, and based on that, the projected figures for Pune show that while it will see modest growth in the next two years, after that, there will actually start a period of decline for 7 years straight. See Figure 1 for more details.
(The full report is expected to be published next month.)
Reactions in Pune
PuneTech caught up with some prominent personalities in the Pune tech community to gauge their reactions to this research. As expected, opinion is divided. Some have already seen the writing on the wall and started taking steps accordingly, while others simply see this as a challenge to try harder.
Santosh Dawara, one of the founders of the Pune Open Coffee Club, and founder of Dubzer, agrees that there is not much of a future in doing a technology startup out of Pune, but believes that the future of the IT/ITES outsourcing industry remains strong:
“A huge advantage Indians have is that most of us are multi-lingual, and learn 3 different languages as a matter of course,” he says. “This will be a growing advantage in an internationalized and localized software world. As long as we continue to produce millions of people proficient in English and 2 other languages, we will continue to get maintenance, testing, l10n, and i18n work.”
As of last week, Santosh has quit Dubzer, and is joining Infosys as the head of their Software Language Services practice, where he will be responsible for translations of more than 20% of the world’s software products.
Arun Prabhudesai, who returned to India 5 years ago to start hover.in, is a great believer of the resilience of India. He agrees with the data, but disagrees with the conclusion:
“The key point this report makes is that we are not producing software engineers who are good enough to take on the competition. We fix that, and the problem is solved.”
“The two biggest problems our education system faces are these,” says Arun, “First, our most talented people, he ones who have the potential to be the best teachers and professors for our next generation, are becoming slaves to the lure of the dollar. I am setting an example by quitting that game right now, and joining academia. The second problem is that we waste so much of our children’s time by teaching them worthless stuff like history and geography. Tell me, which is the last great Geography startup you’ve seen? I will not rest until Java is introduced as a compulsory subject from the 1st standard in SSC board.”
Shrinath Navghane, better known as @MrShri, rejects the entire argument of the Wadhwa report:
“I don’t know what trends they’re seeing, but I think they’re completely wrong,” he opines. “It’s a joke to say that the tech industry in Pune will be just $5B by 2020. I expect just the Foursquare Based Services (FBS) industry in Pune to be $4.16B by that time, so the whole SoMe market will clearly be more than $5B. Come to Foursquare Day Pune 2011 and find out for yourself,” he challenges.
Younger entrepreneurs whom we contacted are apparently less worried. “#FAIL! B***nch*d,” responded Sahil Khan via twitter, “but no worries. Whatever the f**k happens with the software industry, people still have to eat. And the healthiest and cheapest food is eggs. Anyone care for a silky omelette?”
Rohan Dighe is even more chilled, “These baap people take too much tension. One should just drink beer, write code and let other people worry about the future.”
Amen to that, we say!
Update: As noted at the top, this article was an April Fools Day prank. To ensure that comments on this post did not give away the prank too early, some comments were held in moderation until the end of the day. All these comments have now been approved, but we have prefixed these comments with a [***]. Hence, when reading the comments below, please note that comments beginning with the [***] were not visible to anybody on 1st April.
Actually, we were overwhelmed by the amount and intensity of the response generated by that article. In fact, we feel bad for having toyed with the feelings of all the people who actually got fooled by that article and brought such strong emotions and passion to the comments.
And hopefully, you’ll forgive us this moment of fun.
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The post generated a huge number of comments. At the time of writing this article, there are 78 comments. There were three kinds of commentors on that post:
Those who left a comment pointing out that this was an April Fools Day prank. We held all those comments in moderation until this morning, to ensure that the fun did not end prematurely. So nobody saw those comments yesterday, while the debate raged on. They are now visible, but marked with a [***]. So when you read all those comments, remember that the comments marked with a [***] were not visible yesterday.
Those who realized that this is a prank, but decided to join the fun and leave fake comments. I should point out that this was not pre-planned by us. Of these commentors, only Arun and Amit Kumar knew about the prank beforehand – all others guessed and jumped into the fray on their own. You guys made this much more fun than we had imagined!
Those who did not realize that this is a prank, and either expressed their displeasure with the new policy, or defended our right to monetize in this way. To all of you: our sincere thanks for taking the time out to let your feelings be known. While this time it was just a prank, we do really hope that in the future you will let us know your feedback when tricky policy issues regarding PuneTech do crop up, as they sometimes do. Especially the ones who blasted us – we do need readers like that to keep us pointed in the correct direction. Thanks again.
– – –
In any case, you must read the comments. It will be an entertaining experience. As they say, iss meiN drama haiN, emotion haiN, comedy haiN, tragedy haiN. Just remember that all comments marked with a [***] were not visible yesterday.
It seems you have taken an appropriate day for announcing this, if it does not goes well among the community than you can take it back as April fool’s day prank 🙂 way to go.
No. This was always an April Fools Day prank. Arun, Anup and Amit Kumar, the 3 fake “customers” whom we “quoted” in the article knew that this was a prank (because we had to take their permission to misuse their names in this way).
– – –
Titash asked this pertinent question:
Is monetisation a must for every human endeavor?
Although we argued with Titash yesterday while the game was being played, in reality, we do agree with Titash. Our answer is a resounding no. We have no intentions of monetizing PuneTech.
There was some discussion about sustainability of PuneTech, but here’s the point: It takes very little hard cash to keep PuneTech running. The only expenses we have are the domain name and hosting, both of which are cheap enough that we don’t mind paying from our own pockets.
The main “investment” in PuneTech is in terms of time – our own time, as well as the time of so many other members of the tech community in Pune who do things for the community. So, if we must worry about sustainability, we should think in terms of time and not money.
Money cannot buy the quality that Pune Tech needs. Passion is not for sale. Sure, we could use money to pay for getting PuneTech a decent, much needed, design. But that’s not really what PuneTech is about. Money won’t buy high quality content. Money couldn’t have bought this article by Dhananjay Nene, nor this article by Addepalli. You couldn’t have paid Abhijit Athavale to start PuneChips and TechMarathi certainly wont be able to afford all the volunteers who work on it.
Time is more than money! So please “sponsor” PuneTech by donating some of your time. Write an article.
(Update: This article was a PuneTech April Fools Prank. For a full apologyexplanation, see our article on 2 April.)
At PuneTech, one of the things that gives us pleasure is coming up with new ways in which this site can help the tech community in Pune. To quote Dhananjay Nene, we display a “willingness to experiment, learn and retry.” With this in mind, we are introducing a new feature that will help local small businesses, our readers, and us, all at the same time – Sponsored Posts on PuneTech – a win-win-win situation.
Of the 2 years we’ve been in existence, for 1-1/2 of them we’ve been refusing offers for paid advertisements and paid job postings on PuneTech because we don’t want to commercialize PuneTech. However, after receiving many impassioned pleas from small local startups, we have reached the conclusion that we have hit upon a major pain point, a desperate need that needs to be filled. Small startups cannot afford the normal PR and job posting channels and the future of Pune is suffering because of that. There is no good channel for small local companies to market themselves and get much needed visibility. Mainstream media is too big, too broad, and too expensive – and most importantly, generates very little long-term impact (or conversions).
After thinking over this problem for a long time, we have decided to allow commercial postings on PuneTech. We believe this is not really a reversal of our “not commercial” policy – is more of a social service.
With this in mind, we are introducing Sponsored Saturdays. Every Saturday, the PuneTech blog and front page will feature a paid article, which will either be a company profile written by the company itself, or a set of job postings by the company. The article will be clearly marked as a “Sponsored Post”. A flat price of Rs. 10,000 entitles a sponsor to post an article on the PuneTech blog on the next available Saturday slot. This will also be cross posted to twitter, the PuneTech linked-in group, and will go out in the PuneTech RSS Feed and to the e-mail subscribers. There will be no other posts on PuneTech for the next 48 hours – i.e. the sponsored post will stay on the front page until Monday morning. Single tweet postings may be purchased at Rs. 500 per tweet. We will consider special discounted rates for small and deserving companies who are not yet funded.
We are very pleased with the reactions we are getting from our early sponsors. Anup Tapadia, founder of of TouchMagix, who bought the first sponsored slot this Saturday, has high hopes from this program:
Through the normal channels, it is really difficult to find high quality programmers for the kind of cutting edge work we are doing in Pune. For example, a post on the standard job sites brings us hundreds of resumes, but not one of the candidates can answer basic computer science questions. Given the kind of readership PuneTech has, we are expecting to get some very good resumes.
Finding the first few customers for a new product is the most difficult. And a sale to local customers will be much easier because the trust factor will be higher. All I’m expecting is 10 signups, and I’m sure word-of-mouth will take care of the rest.
All bloggers and mainstream media are doing this, either publicly or secretly. I don’t understand why you guys waited so long. But I’m glad you are finally doing it. Count me in.
For sponsoring a post, and for a copy of the detailed terms and conditions, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We do have some legal fine print, but the basic terms are these – the sponsored posts must be related to Pune, must be relevant to readers of PuneTech, and must adhere to the standards of quality of the rest of the PuneTech website. PuneTech reserves the right to refuse any sponsored post for any reason whatsoever, and the decision of the PuneTech editors if final.
We hope that many local companies take advantage of this opportunity.
Note: A majority of the PuneTech advisory board are in full support of our decision, and completely agree with us that this move will be welcomed by the tech community in Pune. In the interest of full transparency, we would like to disclose that two of our advisors who did not agree with this decision have resigned from the board. However, we are confident that after a few months of successfully running this program, we will be able to convince them to re-join.
We will continue to tweak and fine tune this program based on the response and feedback we receive. So please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks.
2nd April Update: As noted at the top, this article was an April Fools Day prank. To ensure that comments on this post did not give away the prank too early, all comments that mentioned “April Fools Day” were held in moderation until the end of the day. All these comments have now been approved, but we have prefixed these comments with a [***]. When reading the comments below, please note that all comments beginning with the [***] were not visible to anybody on 1st April.
We claimed that Pune is expecting growth in revenues in spite of the recession, whereas the other cities, including Bangalore, would see a decline. If you missed all the excitement yesterday, check out our report yesterday. Unfortunately, the entire report was a hoax. There is no company by the name of INHR Associates, the links to the “extended abstract” and the “full (paid) report” are both non-existent, and the the news clip by a “certain TV channel (that will remain unnamed)” was actually created for PuneTech by some of our over-enthusiastic friends.
We have shown above a different, more over-the-top version of the same “news video“. It some out-takes and has credits of the cast and crew who made the film. As with the original video, the “reactions” of the average techie-in-the-street are the most hilarious – definitely worth checking out.
The hints you should have seen
As with any good April Fools’ Prank, we tried to liberally sprinkle it with giveaways – hints that people should have caught on to:
The original source report did not exist. Only two brave souls complained to us that the links were broken. Everybody else seems to have taken our report at face value
INHR Associates, the company which is supposed to have done the survey, had a website called http://inhumanresources.com – very few people picked up on that
Needless to say, the video is completely ridiculous. The fact that many people actually believed it to be real, is a very sad commentary on the state of the real news being put out by our TV channels. We have come to expect trash like this from our TV.
Check out the ticker at the bottom of the news video. It has ridiculous items like “Mallika Sherawat enters politics” and a bunch of other such things.
This was just the first in the long line of people believers. We had a few accomplices (@aparanjape, @d7y, and @amitsomani, and @meetumeetu) who re-tweeted it, after which I believe about 15 to 20 believers retweeted.
@logic loved the “marathi manoos” reaction in the video and wrote:
http://is.gd/pVGh 3:10 I knew recession wont affect pune coz marati dictionary doesnt have it.. ROFLMAO #EKSI. no this tweet is not #april1
Junta in Pune maha excited about thier recession being not so bad as bangalore. Chest deep or neck deep – You still have sh*t sticking on u
I think the best exchange happened on facebook. Chief evangelist of PuneTech, Amit Paranjape, who was in on the joke, posted this to facebook:
Amit Paranjape: Why Pune is handling recession better than Bangalore. http://tinyurl.com/czl3w8
This resulted in the following conversation thread over there:
Rohit Joshi at 3:06pm April 1
It’s a bit like comparing France with the US. The French don’t have boom-bust cycles like anglo-saxon economies because the French don’t innovate and take risks as much. France is still a lovely place.
Navin Kabra at 3:09pm April 1
@Rohit, I doubt that the software/IT/ITES economics of Bangalore and Pune are very different from each other in terms of innovation, risk taking, and boom-bust cycles. I’m sure the explanation for this phenomenon lies elsewhere.
Abhijit Athavale at 4:22pm April 1
Maybe, the Puneites have not realized how serious this thing is going to be. Seriously, the reason might be that Pune has a ton of local industry that the IT/ITES companies are catering to. Bangalore has none.
Amit Paranjape at 5:30pm April 1
I agree Pune does have other local industry. Also, many other non-IT ‘tech’ companies.
After seeing all these reactions, I almost wished that the news item was true.
A few months back when we first got the idea, I casually asked meetu of wogma whether her film-industry friends would be willing to help us out by making a short film for PuneTech as an April Fools’ Prank. She and her friends went nuts with the idea and produced this clip. At that time, I had absolutely no idea of the huge amount of effort that goes into making even a short film like that. But, meetu and her friends, really took to the idea, and worked nights and weekends for almost 20 days to make this clip. I would probably not even have suggested the idea if I knew this beforehand, but anyway, they seem to have enjoyed the process, and we at PuneTech are absolutely thrilled with the final product. We would like to thank them all for the efforts, and for the superb result.
The director (Nitin Gaikwad, nitindgaikwad[at]gmail[dot]com, +91 98193 74727), the editor (Shreyas Beltangdy, shreyasbeltangdy[at]gmail[dot]com, +91 98922 12953) and the main news anchor (Raj Kumar Yadav, raj.deniro[at]gmail[dot]com, +91 99677 82869) are actual professionals in their field, and friends of meetu, who did this for us, free. The rest of the cast and crew are friends, relatives and neighbors. Here are the full credits:
Cast News reader: Raj Kumar Yadav (raj.deniro[at]gmail[dot]com, +91 99677 82869) Statistical analyst: Subramanyam Pisupati Pune expert: Navin Kabra Field Reporter: Shweta Karwa IT employee #1: Mudit Singhal IT employee #2: Nitin Gaikwad IT employee #3: Subur Khan IT employee #4: Amit Rajput
A billion thanks to: Pushpa and Badri Baldawa
Special thanks to: Mudit Singhal, Ravi Iyer, Agasti, Amit Rajput Lighting: Agasti, Chandu dada Production Assistants: Siddhu, Shiva, Sriram, Hemant, Saraswati Make-up: Suman Baldawa Camera and sound equipment: Rudra Communications Editing Studio: Rudra Vision Concept: Navin Kabra Editor: Shreyas Beltangdy (shreyasbeltangdy[at]gmail[dot]com, +91 98922 12953) Dialogue: meetu, Shreyas Beltangdy, Navin Kabra
Director of Photography: Shreyas Beltangdy (shreyasbeltangdy[at]gmail[dot]com, +91 98922 12953) Director: Nitin Gaikwad (nitindgaikwad [at] gmail [dot] com, +91 98193 74737)
Gautam Morey, a PuneTech reader, said yesterday: “You are spending too much time setting up an April Fool’s Joke!”
And our answer was: “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy :-). We spend so much time being serious that spending some time on frivolous things is OK once in a while.”
At the very least, I think we should be able to say that Pune handled April Fools’ day much better than Bangalore!
Update: This was a PuneTech April Fools’ Day prank. See this post for the full story.
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that we are in the midst of a major recession, and it is having a significant effect on the Indian software industry. Now there are hard numbers giving an exact idea of how much the recession is expected to affect the software industry in different cities in India, and the results are interesting, to say the least.
This video is a sensationalized/misquoted version of this news item. Please read this whole article before viewing the video. Click here if the video is not visible.
INHR Associates, a Noida-based human resources consulting company, conducted a survey of over 400 CEOs, CFOs, heads of business units and other executives with P&L responsibilities from 250 software companies across 10 cities in India to get their estimates of the impact of the recession on their business in 2009.