Bangalore: Rajiv Gandhi is often credited with ushering in IT revolution by implementing the new computer policy, liberalising the hardware imports in 1984 but the policy which provided a headstart to India in software exports was actually brought in by his mother Indira Gandhi weeks before her assassination, a new book on Indian IT revealed.
The 1984 policy providing the provision for software exports through satellite links was approved by Indira Gandhi`s cabinet but was announced by the government headed by Rajiv Gandhi on November 19,1984, the book titled "The Long Revolution: The Birth and Growth of India`s IT Industry" written by science journalist and author Dinesh C Sharma said.
It was the provision of exports via satellite which attracted American firms like Texas Instruments (TI) and opened up new gateway for software exports from India. Two other companies were licensed along with TI to set up software units with satellite links but only TI took off, it said.
In fact, a number of policy initiatives including liberalisation of policies for computer and electronics sector, rural digital telephone exchange, software technology parks and computerisation of railways, which are linked with Rajiv`s era, were set in motion by Indira Gandhi after she
came to power in 1980, it said.
"Post-1980, Indira Gandhi was a changed person. It was almost as if she was repenting for the excessive socialist policies unleashed under her rule in 1970s" Sharma told reporters.
Dr. N Seshagiri-former Director General of National Informatics Centre and one of the `computer boys` of the Rajiv Gandhi era - who was present at the launch of the book here last night, said the technology initiatives of Indira Gandhi were vigorously pursued by Rajiv when he became the Prime Minister after her assassination.
The book also reveals that though TI set up its operations in Bangalore in 1985, India had been on the company`s radar for long. It first proposed to set up a unit in India in early 1970s, but the application was rejected by Indira Gandhi`s government.
The then Chairman of TI Patrick E Haggerty had met Electronic Commission Chairman M G K Menon with a plan to set up a manufacturing and research facility for integrated circuits in India. But TI had two conditions: it would be a fully-owned TI company and there would be no export obligation though almost all production of ICs would be meant for exports.
Menon took the proposal to the Prime Minister. But she bluntly rejected it, saying "it is a wonderful idea, I accept it, but I will not be able to get it through the political system".
Noted historian Ramachandra Guha and Director of Indian institute of Information Technology-Bangalore, S Sadagopan also spoke at the launch function.