SAP in India
domain-b.com, August 30, 2007
Edited by Andy Ross
SAP has announced several initiatives to expand the company's India
involvement on the engineering and product development front.
latest is the inauguration of a new facility on the company's SAP Labs
campus in Bangalore. The new facility can seat over 2,000 employees. SAP has
also announced a SAP Scholar Program, an industry-academia initiative to
encourage engineering talent to opt for advanced degrees combined with
CEO Henning Kagermann said, "This new facility
is both a sign of SAP's acknowledgement of the breadth and quality of work
being delivered by our colleagues in India, and our commitment to deepen our
engagement with Indian engineering talent even further. SAP Labs India is
today a critical link in our global strategies and we expect it to continue
to play a definitive role in our future strategy as well."
also reaffirmed a $1-billion investment in India. According to Kagermann,
"SAP Labs India is today the largest research and development hub and
support presence for us outside Germany."
India's Middle Class Failure
By Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad
Prospect, September 2007
Edited by Andy Ross
As Mother India celebrates the 60th anniversary of her independence, there
is both surging optimism and crushing despair about her future. The seven
Indian Institutes of Technology rank near the top of global surveys, and job
offers to graduates from the Indian Institutes of Management rival those to
graduates of the famous U.S. business schools; yet a third of the country is
still illiterate. Three hundred million Indians live on less than $1 a day.
At the other end of the scale, India has the largest number of dollar
billionaires outside the United States and Russia.
For a country that was born
of partition, has had a history of separatism, and that encompasses such
linguistic, ethnic, social, religious and geographic variety, it is strange
that even critics talk of India as if its legal unity was sufficient
guarantor of its actual unity. Only the British empire and then the resolve
of the leaders of the independence struggle ensured that the ancient yet
amorphous idea became a single nation state.
Among the middle class,
there is still a commitment
to India. The middle classes assume it is India's due to be treated as the equal of the
United States and the
rest. But middle classes
distrust those who have not risen with them. In more homogeneous
societies, the better off are more likely to care for the worse off. Highly
diverse societies, like India, find it more difficult to institutionalise
such fellow feeling.
The key to the diversity of Indian society is
intermarriage among consanguineous groups with hereditary
occupations. Over the centuries, there have been many efforts to extend a
sense of common humanity across castes. The caste system has also allowed
for unparalleled pluralism of belief and practice. But the idea that people are intrinsically pure or impure has blighted the idea
of citizenship on the subcontinent.
The social distance of caste is
echoed in the existence of a large Muslim minority which makes India the
largest Muslim country in the world after Indonesia. While some hostile
Hindus still question the Indianness of Muslims, the middle class contains
about the same percentage of Muslims as does the population as a whole. But
despite constitutional guarantees of special rights for Muslims, there is a
perennial worry over Muslim economic progress.
Prosperous India has
not yet provided sufficient social infrastructure to make the country less
brutal for those at the bottom. The state apparatus for tax collection was
for a long time a shambles, and evasion the norm. Another reason for the poor fiscal
performance of the state is the Indian people's ingrained preference for
private rather than public provision.
According to the Indian National Council of Applied Economic
Research, the term "middle class" applies to those earning between $4,000
and $21,000 a year ($20,000-$120,000 in purchasing power parity terms). But
this definition suits only about 60m (under 6 per cent) of the population.
Consumerism is what
distinguishes the Indian middle class most sharply from the past.
One problem with making sense of the Indian
middle class has been the disentangling of caste from its occupational base
and its reconstitution as a form of political identity. The traditionally
privileged castes are called the "forward" classes. However, it is in the
interests of various communities to emphasise their "backwardness," in order
to take advantage of higher education places and public sector jobs reserved
for lower-caste groups. The result is that there are constant challenges to
the system of classification.
boomed economically partly as a result of the huge investment in higher
education — to the detriment of primary education — made by successive
Indian governments, dating back to Nehru.
Unlike in many postcolonial countries, power in
India was concentrated in the old middle class — educated, professional, upper and
intermediate castes from across the religions. Jawaharlal Nehru, India's
first prime minister, represented this class. His
studies at Harrow and Cambridge were paid for by his lawyer
Indian democracy is nearly half a century older than the birth of
an economically vibrant middle class. So political rights were taken for
granted and are now neglected by those who see their prosperity as a result
of their own efforts.
In contrast to China, the
democratic Indian state cannot impose a country-wide population control
strategy. But now
it is clear that China will grow old long before it grows rich, while
India's young population will enjoy much more sustained growth well into the
In the middle of celebrations to mark the 60th year of
India's independence, there is much to despair about. The middle class is
the cause of both the celebration and the despair.