March 19, 2009

The Bill Gates of India

Nandan Nilekani (ನಂದನ ನಿಲೇಕಣಿ), Co-Chairman Infosys, was on The Daily Show yesterday.

He's doing the US media rounds promoting his recent book Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation. More about his book here.

Btw, seems he is kinda responsible for the phrase Friedman made popular... "The World is Flat"

The book's genesis is a conversation Friedman has with Nandan Nilekani, the CEO of Infosys. Nilekani causally mutters to Friedman: "Tom, the playing field is being leveled." To you and me, an innocent throwaway phrase—the level playing field being, after all, one of the most oft-repeated stock ideas in the history of human interaction. Not to Friedman. Ten minutes after his talk with Nilekani, he is pitching a tent in his company van on the road back from the Infosys campus in Bangalore:  

As I left the Infosys campus that evening along the road back to Bangalore, I kept chewing on that phrase: "The playing field is being leveled." What Nandan is saying, I thought, is that the playing field is being flattened... Flattened? Flattened? My God, he's telling me the world is flat!
P.S. Subject line sobriquet "Bill Gates of India" was uttered by Jon Stewart yesterday but its been said before. Eg: see this Time magazine profile: "Seattle has Bill. Bangalore has Nandan." 

Aaah...I see now that Friedman wrote that profile. And he writes: "It was his insight that the global playing field was being "leveled" by technology that inspired me to write the book The World Is Flat."

Btw, Stewart also kinda calls Nandan the "Madonna" of Bangalore. :)

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