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Old January 5th, 2016, 01:29 AM
werewolf2 werewolf2 is offline
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Question Which year India started to implement solution to Y2K bug?

Which year India started to implement solution to Y2K bug? While doing research on this question I came across some WebPages which show old dates of publishing. Are these pages really that old? If yes, do they have antiquity value?

News Archive SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY May 15, 1997

Millennium millions

India is in danger of picking only crumbs from a multibillion-dollar software repast.

Samar Halarnkar
May 15, 1997 | UPDATED 17:45 IST

What could $15 billion in foreign exchange do for India? Well, for a start, it could wipe out the trade deficit three times over.
Put another way, it could send exports skyrocketing by 50 per cent. Only sorcery, you think, could conjure up such economic manna. There is such a magic wand. It's called the millennium bug or the year 2000 problem, popularly known simply as Y2K.
A seemingly minor flaw in the way a computer reads dates heralds an economic cataclysm for businesses all over the world - and an unforeseen windfall for software programmers, the people who write the instructions that control computers.

In the US and Europe, where large computer installations called mainframes control more than 70 per cent of all business operations, the market to find a solution for the Y2K problem could be anywhere from $100 billion to $600 billion.

"Whatever the actual figures, the market is huge," says Saurabh Srivastava, vice-president of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM). "It represents the single biggest opportunity for Indian software companies."

With a booming software industry (exports: $1.1billion), India is particularly well placed to fix the millennium bug. But it's a race against time. The Y2K problem must be fixed before 2000. The date function in most computers, except those made in the past couple of years, cannot recognise the new century. Computers believe the year 2000 is actually 1900. If the millennium bug isn't fixed, the economic consequences will be catastrophic.

Interest rate and premium calculations will go haywire: for instance, a computer calculating interest on a bond issued in 1997 and falling due in 2000 will read the due date as 1900, and the period as 93 years or -93 years, both equally damaging. Credit cards valid up to 2000 are already getting into trouble as computers read them as having expiry dates of 1900.

So, how much of this market can India corner? If things go well, say official estimates, a billing of $5 billion (Rs 17,500 crore) is ours. But considering this a one-shot business opportunity, this target is chicken feed, argue experts. If the Indian software industries and the Government put in an extraordinary effort, a figure of $15 billion (Rs 52,500 crore) isn't unachievable. The message: go for broke.

"We could be a significant global player in the Y2K market but we're picking up crumbs," says Ashutosh Gupta, president of Information Management Resources, a software house in Bangalore that exclusively handles the millennium bug problem.

Among the 30 companies for whom he's worked out solutions are auto maker Ford, American Airlines and tobacco major Philip Morris. In Mumbai, software engineer Vijay Kumar has quit his job and with three friends is setting out to find the pot of gold at the end of the millennium rainbow. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make it big," gushes Kumar. "I don't know what my bank account will read three years from now, but it's either now or never."

There's no shortage of work. The question is: how much can India handle? Reaching a target of $15 billion will require thousands more software programmers; bandwidth, or space on telecom lines, on which data can be propelled from Indian software factories directly to a client's computer in the West; tax breaks and monetary incentives from the Government; and above all, an attitude of derring-do.

The software industry is gearing up for the Y2K market, though late as all over the world. More than 300 software companies nationwide are devoting a quarter of their manpower to special groups to find solutions to the Y2K problem.

Computer training institutes like NIIT and Aptech run special courses to train the thousands of extra programmers who will be needed. In Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore, a crop of companies is sprouting with only one objective in mind: fix the millennium bug.

But the industry needs to think even bigger: invest more, plan better, take more risks. For example, software companies have traditionally ignored Japan, simply because Japanese is tough to learn. The Government's Department of Electronics (DoE) had to wind up Japanese language classes it once began for the industry because the response was abysmal.

There must be at least five times as many programmers as there are today to reach a $15 billion target. Indian programmers are at a particular advantage because institutes in India begin classes with Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL), a computer language that faded into antiquity more than a decade ago in the West.

But COBOL still runs more than half the large mainframe computers that face the date problem. "When the COBOL programmes were first written in the '50s, many of them didn't realise that the mainframes would last till 2000," says V. Rajaraman, IBM professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore. Companies are now scouring technical libraries for old technical manuals.

Poorly maintained telecom lines are a problem that need to be urgently solved. More and more telecom lines, or bandwidth, will be needed as software companies hook up over satellite and terrestrial links with the computer systems that need fixing in the West.

"Bandwidth is not a technical problem but a man-made one," admits Shymal Ghosh, secretary, DoE, who promises to increase and improve telecom lines. The Government has finally woken up to the millennium windfall. The Commerce Ministry is discussing monetary aid for software units, duty-free imports of critical equipment and tax benefits for institutes training programmers for the Y2K market.

There's one pitfall: the massive number of people and infrastructure left over when 2000 finally comes. "If you eat too much, you could get indigestion," says Ghosh with a chuckle. Possibly, but first let's start tucking in.

- with Stephen David and Smruti Koppikar

Last edited by werewolf2; January 5th, 2016 at 01:34 AM.
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