Why is India singled out for bad code and poor-quality programmers?

Why is India singled out for bad code and poor-quality programmers?

There are several reasons why developers from India are seen as low-quality coders. Here are some of them.

1) Demand for lowest skilled developer level

In Europe and other western nations there is a demand for the lowest skilled and lowest paid developer.

It is not a demand. But they are created because there is a demand for low priced services.

Imagine a start up from France who wants to build a new Facebook-like app for 3000 Euros.

Every good IT company knows that this is not possible. Even in India.

But 3000 Euro is a good sum for a person in India. So of course, there will be entrepreneurs who will be saying “Yes, I will build it for you! Do you need the Mobile App version as well? I include it in the price”.

The client from Europe will say “Yes, let’s do it”. And he/ she will be extremely excited about the prospect of potentially getting a website which will make millions!

The entrepreneur from India will then hire an inexperienced developer (or let’s say college graduate) and will ask him/ her to build that app.

Now a few things will happen:

  • The client will get the first few versions and will see only a little bit of progress
  • The client feels that it is not going anywhere
  • The developer has no idea how to finish the project/ the boss increases the pressure to finish the project
  • Finally, everything comes to a halt

The client from Europe will say “All developers in India are bad and create bad code”.

Even though the issue was that the entrepreneur from India should have said “No” to the project.

Or the client from Europe should have understood that it is not feasible, even in India, with that budget of 3000 Euro to build an app like Facebook.

2) Junior Developer Sales Model

From the beginning, when IBM started its first engineering offices in India, around 1970 to 1980, there was a demand for “simple coding”. That is, a huge number of coders who would churn out hundreds and thousands and more lines of code.

Indian developers were the reason the Y2K problem was solved. Even though it was a simple issue to resolve. But it needed many coders to achieve this feat.

So, companies like Infosys and Wipro focused on this kind of business model.

They would hire university graduates, give them a 6-month training and bill them to their, mostly USA, clients.

But the issue is this: These junior developers would interact with highly skilled counterparts from the USA and Europe.

This left the impression in western countries, especially with low level (but highly skilled developers and employees) in these western countries, that Indian developers are all bad and not very knowledgeable.

3) Number 1 place for low cost offshore outsourcing

India is a country with more than one billion inhabitants and hundreds of thousands of IT graduates each year.

On the other side it is low cost, even in comparison with countries such as Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and even China (as it is more focused on manufacturing than on IT).

Also, India is more politically stable than countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Vietnam (even though Vietnam is improving nowadays).

So, it is a magnet for low cost, large scale offshore outsourcing. Companies like Infosys or Wipro have hundreds of thousands of developers for this reason.

But this is another reason for the bad perception. Because it almost feels like everyone in the west has their own story of working with programmers from India. And it is not always the best one.

4) The negative voices are the loudest

Suppose someone is successful with offshore outsourcing to India. Do you think they would brag about it online? No. They usually do not tell anyone, online or offline. It is usually their secret. Even IBM stopped publishing their official head count figures of developers in India (which should be well above 100′000 employees by this point in time).

But the 3000 Euro budget client from Europe will be loud and will repeatedly talk about his/ her negative experiences with coders from South Asia.

Meanwhile the professional client/ businessman from the USA who has 100 developers in India working for his team, is busy building high quality software and increasing sales and profits. And is not talking about it online or offline. If at all, he will be talking about his amazing software and how it benefits its customers.

So, the 3000 Euro client will outcry the “million dollar client” by many fold. It creates the impression that developers from the subcontinent are bad.

5) Less marketers and content from India

There are many coders in South Asia, that is a fact. But there are not many marketers or content producers over there.

Most of the marketing professionals sit in Europe and in the USA. The famous marketing specialists are all from that part of the world.

In Asia on the other hand, there are traditionally less people in marketing.

And the few who are out there only look at the bright side of things (which is a typical Asian thing. To make everyone feel good and to make the other party save face).

Going forward

Already there is a shift in the perception of developers in India.

The wife of the British prime minister is the owner of one of the largest offshore outsourcing companies.

Sundar Pichai (an India educated engineer) is now CEO of Google.

Satya Nadella is now CEO of Microsoft.

Shantanu Narayan is CEO of Adobe.

George Kurian is CEO of NetApp.

Parag Agrawal was CEO of Twitter.

The list of engineers educated in India is going on and on.

Also, there is a list of very interesting start-ups emerging from the subcontinent. Software tools which are used the world over. As well as online solutions which are used within the country itself.

Everything looks like that the perception will be changing in the years to come.

Interesting Links:

Is India a space of unskilled software developers? 

Why do Indian developers struggle to write high quality code?

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