A MANTRA FOR OUR TIMES - 'COMPETE BUT COOPERATE' A small event in 1987 - a meeting of entrepreneurs with big ideas in Delhi - went on to change the face of the Indian software industry. For, at the meeting, attended, among others, by N.R. Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani, it was decided that an independent association was needed to represent the interests of the IT software and services industry, and thus Nasscom (Nat ional Association of Software and Services Companies) was born. As India's economic reforms began in 1991, the existence of Nasscom - and its ability to present the industry's unified view - aided the take-off of the IT sector. From evangelizing to brand building, from crisis management to foreign diplomacy, from being an adversarial proponent of a viewpoint to being a partner of the government, from a supporting to a stellar role - Nasscom has, over the years, played many parts. The result: it has been instrumental in the spectacular growth of India's IT software exports from around USD 400 million in 1991 to over USD 60 billion today. In this wonderfully lucid book, Kiran Karnik, who headed Nasscom from 2001 to 2008, explores the competition and cooperation in the IT sector, and the role that Nasscom played in this. At the end of the day, he concludes, it was the 'compete but cooperate' mantra that was the secret of the IT industry's - and Nasscom's - success. Many countries, as well as other industrial sectors in India, have expressed an interest in adopting the Nasscom model and, here, Karnik examines whether it can be replicated. In a time of global competition, this is a must-read for anyone in the fields of IT, business and industry. 'I recall taking a senior and important foreign visitor, a very big customer of the IT-BPO industry, on a visit to a BPO company ... Spotting some large pieces of 'industrial' equipment ... he asked: 'And what is this?' 'A diesel generator,' said our host ... 'What for?' 'Well, it serves as a standby for the electric supply from the utility.' 'How much backup does it provide?' 'Hundred per cent backup, sir.' 'Wow, 100 per cent! You guys sure plan for all contingencies,' said the visitor, visibly impressed. A few minutes later, on seeing more equipment and now recognizing it as another similar generator, the visitor enquired, 'So what is this generator for?' 'This, sir, is a backup to the backup,' said our host proudly, expecting a pat on the back for even deeper contingency planning. Our visitor, though, was aghast: the expression on his face had changed from 'wow' to 'oh-my-God'.