Friday, July 25, 2008

Interview: Vijay Times-Sand to Silicon, Dec 2003

‘Even practitioners cannot explain the fundamentals’
Interview: Vijay Times, Dec 2003

Even as the country learns more about ‘India Shining’, Shivanand Kanavi’s book, Sand to Silicon, traces the Evolution of digital technology in India in a global context. Better known as the Executive Editor of Business India, the Mumbai-based graduate of IIT-Kanpur spoke to Vijay Times, Bangalore earlier this week:

Isn’t it apt that the release of Sand to Silicon Coincides with the Central Government’s ‘India Shining’ campaign?

Obviously, it is just a coincidence. The work for the book began two years ago in terms of research. If you ask me, the Government should also be publicising issues backed by solid research rather than mere sentiments.

How Accurate is the ‘India Shining” campaign? Are there really areas in the economy to feel good about?
‘Feel good’ is a relative term. It is often used when things haven’t been good over a period of time. Indians tend to look for something to celebrate- be it a cricket match or the economy.
There are still large sections of the economy that have not been touched. Analysts are cautioning the Government against this, especially when it comes to the rural and sub-urban parts of the country. The campaign must correspond with reality.

Is Sand to Silicon aimed at the reader who is a specialist, engineer or the layman?
Electrical engineering isn’t my subject. When I tried to understand it by talking to experts, I could see that even practitioners were unable to explain the fundamentals.
I have tried to address a broad segment- anybody conversant in technology or who is interested in knowing more about it. I had to study the fundamentals, interview many people. The historical work: to gather the names of Indians who have done seminal work in technology..

So, between the graduate from Kanpur and the journalist in you, who was more dominant while working on the book?
(Laughs) My worry was always my reader. My publisher and acknowledged mentor, Ashok Advani, always said, ‘you should write in such a way that even your mother-in-law understands it’. After I collected the material, it had to be translated to common man’s terms. So perhaps, the journalist was more dominant.

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