India’s Innovators

Red Herring has a series of stories on Indian entrepreneurs, stating: “Showing its good for more than outsourcing, the country moves into new industries, introducing its own star entrepreneurs and winning back expatriates. But it still dances with poverty.”

From the story on NIIT and its co-founder and chairman Rajendra Pawar:

NIIT is a pioneer of education and training for IT professionals in India. An estimated one-third of all software programmers in India are trained in one of his NIIT schools, which introduced the idea of franchising to the education industry.

Founded in 1986, NIIT has nearly 3,500 IT education centers spread across 33 countries, including the United States. The institutions teach a total of 1.8 million students every year. Tech consultancy IDC ranks NIIT No. 16 on its list of top IT training companies in the world, and the only one outside of the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

Next on Mr. Pawars list is to create an NIIT private university within the next two years that will award masters and doctoral degrees in India and 32 other countries. The company is also starting to build up a business in the U.S. In 2003 NIIT acquired CognitiveArts USA, a company that provides e-learning services to Fortune 500 companies. And after 9/11, the U.S. government asked universities in America to step up training in information systems security. NIIT is helping several leading U.S. universities build up their curriculums in this area, says Mr. Pawar.

But NIITs work doesnt stop with IT professionals. In 1999 NIIT set up public-private partnerships with state governments and now provides IT education to over 1.25 million children in rural India. Tied to that, NIIT scientists are researching the role of technology and informatics in primary education and have already applied for patents in this area. The idea, says Mr. Pawar, is to make it possible for children ranging in age from six to 14 to learn many things on their ownwithout the need for a teacherproviding they can work collaboratively in small groups with a connected device.

Mr. Pawar believes that this system of collaborative learning and a self-organizing system can be built into a sustainable, for-profit business.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.