In Germany's booming computer and telecommunications industry there is a considerable lack of qualified IT specialists. At the opening of this year's computer trade fair CeBIT in February, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder announced that the Federal Government intends to recruit high tech specialists from countries outside of the European Union to Germany.
The far developed IT country India gains 100 000 new IT specialists per year. Software development is an outstanding growth market in India. Thus, it seems reasonable to consider India as a strong partner for Germany in the IT sector. And the possible forms of cooperation go far beyond the "import" of Indian IT specialists. In August of this year, the Indian Software Service Companies Association (ISSCOM), a non-profit organization of Indian IT managers and employees, and The Cross-Cultural Leadership Forum (CLF), a project team at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, have decided on a cooperation to promote Indo-German companies in the IT sector. The aim of this strategic partnership is to support German and Indian companies in successfully taking advantage of the chances of cooperation in the IT sector. With jointly organized management seminars, public events as well as further consultative services, practical support is to be offered.
As the official beginning of their partnership, CLF and ISSCOM organized a public panel discussion about the new German Green Card on September 13th, 2000, in the University of Heidelberg's senate conference hall. CLF was represented on the panel by its project leader Mrs. Prof. Dr. Susanne Weigelin-Schwiedrzik, Vice President for International Affairs of the University of Heidelberg, while Mr. Umesh Aggarwal, ISSCOM's Executive Director, acted of behalf of ISSCOM. Mr. Chandrashekar V. Badami, Business Development Manager of Wipro Technologies, India's largest IT company, spoke for the Indian software industry, and Mr. Srinivas Reddy of SAP Laps India appeared on behalf of the Green Card holders. The discussion was led by Mr. Mike Enskat, CLF member and political scientist at Heidelberg University's South Asia Institute.
In the fully crowded conference hall the cooperation between CLF and ISSCOM was welcomed from all sides. Everybody agreed that a promotion of Indo-German cooperation in the IT sector is necessary and helpful for both parties. Concerning the qualification of the IT experts from India, doubts were voiced from the audience: As the top people preferred the United States as job market anyway, Germany would have to come to terms with second-class IT experts. From the Indian point of view, fears of this kind were considered as unwarranted - due to the elitist system of higher education in India with its strict selection beginning with a harsh entry exam, there was no such thing as second-class graduates.
The Indians rather considered lacking German language skills as a problem. Yet in the English language dominated IT industry, good English language skills were not sufficient in Germany. Even German companies with English as their official corporate language had problems with its internal practice. Thus, the Indian's interest in Germany had to be aroused to strengthen their willingness to learn the German language. One Indian panelist criticized the poor marketing of Germany in other countries. In India, hardly anyone knew and heard about Germany, not to mention - maybe apart from SAP - the German software industry. To regard Germany as a potential job market, was therefore far from one's thoughts.
Xenophobia in Germany was also an issue, especially with regard to the latest right-wing incidents in the Federal Republic. Living in Germany was therefore not really promising for foreigners. The Second World War and the Third Reich were associated with Germany in the first place, anyway. Germany's critical examination of this era and the related intensive educational work was respected and appreciated, though.
After the end of the official part of the panel discussion, a reception was given in the Bel Etage of the Old University building. This was an opportunity to continue the discussion, exchange experiences and make contacts by drinking wine and eating Indian snacks. The event was met with a positive response from the participants as well as the organizers and can thus be regarded as a successful beginning of the CLF-ISSCOM cooperation.
Please address any inquiries to:
The Cross-Cultural Leadership Forum (CLF)
Projektteam an der Universität Heidelberg
See : http://sun.sino.uni-heidelberg.de/clf/