Indian IT experts at FinTech Festival want SG to setup $billion funding arrangement for Indian start-ups

According to a report from an Indian news media on Monday (18 Nov), 2 Indian “IT experts” want Singapore to put in place a billion-dollar funding arrangement for investments in Indian start-ups that are supposedly poised for exponential growth (‘Singapore should put in place billion dollar funding arrangement for Indian start-ups: Experts‘).

Girija Pande, Chairman of Apex Avalon Consulting, and Mohandas Pai, technologist and venture capitalist, were speaking to the Indian media last week at the Singapore FinTech Festival 2019 (11 – 15 Nov).

Pande who currently mentors four Indian start-ups in deep technology from Singapore said “we want much more investment in start-ups from Singapore.”

Pai said he sees a good potential for Singapore-India partnership in building a start-up ecosystem. He called for a billion-dollar fund of funds for investments in at least 1,000 start-ups in India, which has a spread of over 40,000 such entities with 5,000-6,000 start-ups joining the industry every year. He said, “By 2025, we will have 100,000 start-ups and create USD 500 billion of value and employ 3.25 million people.”

Both see the Indian IT industry growing from software services hub into a large base of manufacturing unique IT products for global markets.

India produces 800,000 engineers a year, with top 20 per cent becoming software engineers. Moreover, the average age of Indian software engineer is 27 and is trainable in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Pai said. He added, “India clearly dominates this field and will keep dominating. There is no other country that can match India in software skill.”

94% of engineering graduates from India not fit for hiring

Even though India produces large number of engineers every year, another news report quoting one of its CEO of an Indian IT company said 94% of engineering graduates from India are not fit for hiring (‘94% of engineering graduates are not fit for hiring, says this IT stalwart‘, 4 Jun 2018).

CP Gurnani, CEO & MD of Tech Mahindra, said, “The top 10 IT companies take only 6% of the engineering graduates. What happens to the remaining 94%?”

Commenting on the poor quality of engineering graduates, Gurnanai added, “Let me give you an example from a city like Delhi. A student scoring 60% marks cannot pursue BA-English today, but can definitely go in for engineering. My point is simple — are we not creating people for unemployment?”

“The Indian IT industry wants skills. For example, Nasscom says 6 million people are required in cybersecurity by 2022. But we have a skills shortage. The point is if I am looking for a robotics person and instead I get a mainframe person, then it creates a skill gap. This comes as a big challenge,” he shared.

In fact, the Aspiring Minds study in 2017 revealed that only 4.77% candidates could write the correct logic for a programme — a minimum requirement for any programming job. The conclusion of the study came from more than 36,000 engineering students of over 500 colleges who took a Machine Learning based assessment of software development skills. It found that more than 60% could not even write code that compiles. Only 1.4% could write functionally correct and efficient code, it said.

It added that employability for roles such as mechanical design engineer and civil engineer stood at a meagre 5.55 per cent and 6.48 per cent respectively. The lowest employability percentage was for the chemical design engineer role at 1.64 per cent. Employability in the domain-specific roles was the highest for electronics engineers at 7.07 per cent.

A McKinsey report has also flagged the issue more than a decade ago when it said just a quarter of engineers in India were actually employable. India’s problem of substandard engineering education is well known. Except IITs and other prestigious technology institutes, most engineering colleges are unable to provide quality education to engineering students that would get them suitable jobs.

In any case, Indian IT companies were making a beeline for the Singapore FinTech Festival last week. The festival touted to be the largest Financial Technology event in the world is organized annually by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). It aims to provide a platform for the FinTech community to connect, collaborate and co-create.

MAS Chief Fintech Officer also advisor to Indian state with rank and status of Indian Minister of State

Incidentally, the Chief Fintech Officer in-charge of Fintech in MAS is Sopnendu Mohanty. He was appointed to head the FinTech & Innovation Group (FTIG) in 2015. FTIG was setup to be responsible for regulatory policies and development strategies to facilitate the use of technology and innovation to better manage risks, enhance efficiency, and strengthen competitiveness in the financial sector. Part of his responsibilities is to ensure safety and security in the use of FinTech in Singapore.

Prior to him joining MAS, Mohanty was working in Citibank as its Global Head of Consumer Innovation Lab Networks & Programmes. As the Chief Fintech Officer, Mohanty reports directly to the Deputy Managing Director of MAS.

Two months ago on 13 Sep, India’s mainstream media, Times of India, reported that the Indian state government of Odisha has appointed Mohanty, as its state advisor of digital and financial technology. He will enjoy the rank and status of an Indian minister of state, and will have a key role in preparation of annual budgets for the state, said the news report.

That is to say, Mohanty would hold positions in both the Indian state government as well as MAS, a Singapore government statutory board.


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