Captains of USD 100 billion IT industry are placing their bets on former Infosys top honchos Nandan Nilekani and V Balakrishnan in this Lok Sabha polls, expecting them to lead a change in political landscape and work towards job creation and economic growth.
While Infosys co-founder and former CEO Nandan Nilekani is fighting on a Congress ticket from Bangalore South, the company's ex-director Balakrishnan is contesting as Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Bangalore Central constituency.
"I have known Nandan Nilekani for 30 years. The face to face competition between Infosys and Wipro was very evident but it's not often that we do admire a competitor as I did Nandan. What's amazing is his journey. Even well before politics was his contribution to UIDAI," says industry veteran Ashok Soota, who is now Chairman and Co-Founder of Happiest Minds Technologies.
Soota, a former CEO of Wipro Infotech and Co-Founder of Mindtree Ltd, says: "Nandan has been an inspirational leader. His life, professional and personal experiences have prepared him to be a parliamentarian. India needs parliamentarians like him."
The two Infoscians enjoy tremendous support from top executives from across the IT sector, while both of them also have extended 'best wishes' for each other. However, their political support is confined to candidates of respective parties.
"I firmly believe that we need leaders like Nandan Nilekani and Balakrishnan in government for all of India and for economic growth and creation of jobs," says S Gopalakrishnan (Kris), another co-Founder of Infosys and currently the company's Executive Vice Chairman.
"Of course they will leverage IT better to provide effective services to citizens. IT is needed to empower people and give them access to affordable quality education and healthcare," Kris said.
T V Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Manipal Global Education and a former director of Infosys, is also confident of the political abilities of his two ex-colleagues.
"Both of them are accomplished leaders. One hopes they will articulate the needs of the industry, especially the IT industry, in the Parliament. IT sector has created huge number of jobs in the country," said Pai.
Nilekani and Bala, who are up against entrenched rivals on their road to becoming parliamentarians, have triggered hopes across the industry.
Wipro executive director and chief financial officer Suresh Senapaty says the role played by the IT sector on the economy has been significant and now both the IT leaders can use it to their and the country's advantage.
"Over the last 2 decades, the Indian IT Industry has been a sterling example of Indian companies differentiating in the global arena and creating truly global brand for themselves and the country," he said.
The IT sector effect on the Indian economy has been huge.
"The impact of the industry in India is clear for all to see – 8 per cent of National GDP, largest private sector employer with about 3.1 million employees...The government too has played its role in boosting the competitiveness of this sector through tax incentives and operational freedom," said Senapaty.
"Both Nandan and Bala draw origin of their identity from this sector. They have participated in the IT industry’s journey – demonstrating the power of technology solutions to improve productivity and transparency for customer organizations, and, in the process, establishing the industry's global leadership.
"They have now taken on a new challenge on wanting to apply the same principles on the political arena – they bring to the table a high degree of social consciousness, a need to drive change, improve the governance and above all, uplift the lowest strata of society," Senapaty said, while clarifying that this is his personal view.
MindTree chief Krishnakumar Natarajan, who is also chairman of NASSCOM, feels that both Nilekani and Balakrishnan can educate the government better on the benefits of technology adoption and boost the domestic market's prospects.
"With the presence of individuals like Nandan Nilekani and Balakrishnan in the poll fray, it is clear that more professionals are wanting to take on a hands on role and this augurs well for the Industry.
"If they are elected, I feel that they will be in a position to educate the Govt on the benefits of the Industry- Job creation, nonpolluting, Global markets etc and this will help the Industry compete in the Global market more effectively. Also they will push for adoption of technology in the domestic market and that will drive productivity and transparency in a big way," Natarajan says.
Ganesh Murthy, Chief Financial Officer, HP-controlled MphasiS Ltd, is happy that two leaders with proven capabilities have a shot to change India's fortunes. "I feel that it is a good sign that professionals like Nandan Nilekani and Balakrishnan are entering politics. These folks are likely to be honest and doers," Murthy said.