Nevertheless, the conference was most interesting for the insights it gave into the current state of the industry in India.
The geographic information industry in India is a remarkable construction. Almost 97 per cent of its work comes from overseas. Barely three per cent involves applications that will be used in India for the benefit of the Indian people. There is almost no market for geographic information in the Indian government.
This creates extraordinary problems for local GIS companies, Reddy said.
Effectively, they are unable to climb the value chain. For instance, no Indian companies have developed proprietary GIS software. It’s not that it would be beyond them to do so, it’s just very difficult to marshal the business case for the type of development effort that would be necessary.
Some of these issues were addressed during a keynote presentation by the minister of science, Kapil Sibal. (for a report on the minister’s speech, see Indian Arrangements to Change in this issue)
But it is becoming increasingly evident that GIS is necessary to deliver many of the services Indians expect from their government. Cabinet has decreed it necessary to implement a vast number of e-government initiatives.