The spired dome and the four surrounding slender minarets gleamed against a backdrop of soft, blue sky. The white marbled monument towered over a vast, landscaped garden ringed by red, columned arcades. Spread out in the center is a long, clear pool on which the Taj Mahal’s reflection shimmered, a mirror fit for the statuesque queen of architecture.
With an average of 8 million visitors per year or 25,000 per day, the 363-year old Taj Mahal has long been the crowning glory of India. When one speaks of Taj Mahal, India comes to mind, and vice versa.
But the rapid transformation in India has made this second most populous country home to more modern enterprises. India is starting to embed a foothold in the highly competitive world of pharmaceuticals, information technology, aeronautics and space research.
India’s wheels of change is predominantly rolling out from Bangalore or Bengaluru, a city now tagged as the country’s Silicon Valley. It is here where most of the engines powering up India’s burgeoning economy have set up base.
One of India’s superstars in its IT revolution is Infosys, a purely Indian-owned software company employing 145,088 people in 29 countries across the globe.
Its expansive headquarters in Bangalore is home to 50 buildings, swimming pools, a 500-bed hotel, movie houses, book shops, retail stores and athletic facilities for the use of its employees and guests.
In the past 30 years, 68 heads of state passed through its gates, including former US President Bill Clinton. “We’ve also had more than 3,000 international delegates visit us here,” said Balakrishnan Palaniappan, Infosys Bangalore’s facilities manager, who guides an average of five tour groups per day at the Infosys complex.
Infosys was awarded by Procter & Gamble in 2011 as its “Business Partner of the Year.” In the same year, the company grabbed the No. 15 spot in Forbe’s list of Most Innovative Companies. A year before, Wall Street Journal’s “Asia 200 Survey” recognized Infosys as India’s “Most Admired Company”, a distinction that the company has held for nine years in a row.
Infosys is just one of the many major players in India’s thriving business process outsourcing (BPO) industry. Also making their mark on the global software service are Genpact India, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, Aegis, WNS Global Services and a host of other software firms fueled by the nearly 2.5 million people employed by this industry in India.
Bangalore is also considered one of two biotechnology hubs in India. According to India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), there are a total of 380 biotech companies in the country, of which 191 are based in Bengaluru (the others are in Karnataka).
Leading the pack of India’s biotech firms that are helping push the country’s image as the “pharmacy of the world” is its first and largest, Biocon. It specializes in developing drugs for diabetes, cancer, immunotherapy, kidney diseases and cardiology.
Biocon is founded by Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, who also sits as chairman and managing director of the Bangalore-based biopharma firm. She built Biocon from the ground-up in her garage in Bangalore in 1978. Now, Biocon is a global firm developing its own drugs for international and domestic markets.
Branding itself as a “gobal pharmaceutical innovator,” Biocon is the first in the world to manufacture a human insulin under the name Insugen, now available in Latin America, Middle East, Asia and North Africa.
In 2011, it struck a $200-million deal with Pfizer to commercialize its insulins portfolio. Pushed by the growing demand worldwide for its biosimilar version of insulin for diabetes treatment, Biocon announced last year the construction of its first international manufacturing facility in Malaysia.
In a profile story that appeared early this year in US magazine The New Yorker, Mazumdar-Shaw said that she “would love to see one of our novel drugs make it big with the ‘Made in India’ label.”
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited
A product made in India is already flying the international skies since 1994. The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) based in Bangalore is the major supplier of passenger doors for Airbus A320 aircrafts.
Wholly state-owned, HAL is now responsible for half of all the forward passenger doors of A320. HAL is also manufacturing plane components for global aircraft giants such as US planemaker Boeing and European helicopter company Eurocopter.
Between 1994 to 2011, HAL has sold 2,000 sets of plane doors. “We average a sale of 240 doors per year or 20 per month,” a high-ranking HAL officer told a group of Asian journalists during a tour at HAL’s assembly hangar area in February this year.
Following HAL’s partnership with Airbus, the Toulouse (France)-based airline expanded its list of Indian partners and suppliers to include engineering, IT services, research and technology, among others. It also put up an engineering center in Bangalore that develops advanced capabilities on modeling and simulation, critical factors in the design and production of aircrafts.
India is also setting its sights past the skies and into outer space. The state-run Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has launched more than 60 satellites, all made in India, for scientific and technological applications.
The satellites are being used for the country’s telecommunications, television broadcasting, meteorology, disaster warning, search and rescue, tele-education, health, and agricultural programs.
In November 2008, an Indian unmanned spacecraft built by ISRO, Chandrayaan-1, successfully touched ground on the moon. India then became the fourth country to send a probe to the lunar surface.
ISRO is also striking up international collaborations with space agencies in two other countries. These are CNES in France for joint satellite missions on atmospheric and ocean studies, and Russia’s Space Federal Agency RKA for a joint lunar exploration mission proposed to be launched in 2014.
Singapore-based online magazine AsianScientist.com in a Feb. 17, 2012 report disclosed ISRO’s plans of launching a scientific mission to Venus. The report quoted ISRO official M.S. Anurup telling delegates of the 17th National Space Science Symposium in Tirupati, India that a preliminary study on the mission’s feasibility has already been undertaken.
ISRO is reportedly eyeing to launch the Venus mission in 2015 once it gets the green light.
India on the move
The technological leaps and bounds that India took in the last few decades are reshaping what used to be a mostly negative global image of India – seedy, crowded, and poor - brought on largely by its population explosion.
But it is from this teeming population of one billion and counting that India harnessed a massive pool of educated, trained and innovative human resource, helping plug the country into the world market.
India is now riding high on a crest of progressive changes, emerging as the tenth largest economy in the world.
Beyond the Taj Mahal, this new, cutting-edge India awaits, one that is blinking bright and fierce on the global economic map. (RMN/PIA Negros Oriental)