191: From consumption to contribution - Drupal business in India - 2/2

Ani Gupta, Drupal Mumbai community lead, StartupNext lead, formerly at Axelerant in India, and I got the chance to continue the conversation I began with Piyush Poddar at Drupal Camp London about the changing face of IT and open source in India. Under the heading "from consumption to contribution" we talk about India's move from being perceived as being good for cheap, outsourced code to being a place rich with brands and startups in their own right and the home to much open source contribution. We also talk about old versions of Drupal, the Drupal community and its mentoring culture, open source acceptance in business and government, and more!

Open source and Drupal in India

"India is infamous as a very cheap destination for software services and the sweat-shop-like factories that people have set up of 100s of coders hacking away on machines. To some extent that is still true. I personally--and a lot of my colleagues and peers--have felt that India actually has an amazing amount of talent. That is evident today. It's been a challenge for us to actually establish India as a destination to source really good, fantastic software development work. In the last 5 years, there have been a lot of new changes to the landscape. A lot of that is because of open source software, communities like Ruby and Drupal, and also the startup boom that is happening in India in the last three years."

Why are there so many software developers in India? "Because it's easy to get a certification in Microsoft .NET or Java or something and people got that and quickly got a job. That was a very big consideration for a lot of people. It was based around 'How can I be secure and get a good job?' Today, things are changing quite rapidly. Two things have happened simultaneously. One is that the open source community exploded. Drupal has exploded since 2011, when Dries came to India. Everybody who was providing Drupal services became aware of the larger community and why contributions were important. The discussions started happening. Business have started moving towards a contribution culture; they understand the ROI. But more importantly, developers themselves became aware that becoming part of an open community and sharing ideas actually makes them stronger and better."

"The startup culture has been very important in terms of showing that there is a better was to enjoy software and develop really cool applications, and make a lot of money as well in India. There is massive demand for really good talent. The startup scene in India has provided very profitable homegrown companies that acquired a massive amount of really good talent at really good salaries. The startups are definitely looking inward and unlike before, even the startups are solving Indian problems."

"I do believe that the culture is carrying over. A lot of professional services companies, especially those built around open source software, they understand that without contributing back to the community--be it Ruby, or Python, Wordpress, or Drupal--they understand that if they're not part of the community then they're actually losing out in a massive way. Branding becomes very important. People start talking about these companies that are contributing back. It's important. Productivity and motivation is not dependent on how much money you can throw at somebody. Motivation is going to come from getting that person happy. How does that person get happy? By actually building things and owning that and getting recognized for that. That's what open source communities provide."

The last three to five years has been a complete [180 degree turn] as I see it. Today somebody who wants to set up a company doesn't think 'I'm going to get an Adobe license or a Microsoft license.' They're going to say, 'Okay, I'm going to get into Drupal or Ruby. I'm going to start building applications and I'm going to provide those services.' That's a completely different thing from what was happening before.

More on Drupal in India

Guest dossier

Interview video