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Netapp sees India as innovation hub, not just cheap labor

Global software company Netapp feels that India is not a labour arbitrage story and its presence in the country is driven by talent delivering cutting-edge, innovative work.

Stating that the country is home to its largest engineer base in a single site anywhere in the world, the company’s India-born Chief Technology Officer Harvinder (Harv) Bhela said multinationals have travelled a long distance and a lot of critical work happens in the country now.

“We don’t see India that way (for labour arbitrage) anymore. People don’t see that. India development centres have gone past that way many many years ago,” Bhela told PTI recently.

Bengaluru is the single-largest facility housing engineering talent anywhere in the world for Netapp globally, Bhela, who grew up in Mumbai and has also worked with Microsoft, said.

It can be noted that in the past, a lot of companies came to India because of the low cost of talent, which led to a frequent refrain that the low-key work like maintenance comes to India because of the opportunity for a company to maximise profits courtesy the low salaries paid here.

“It’s true that in India the labour cost is less, but companies like ours are there because the talent is amazing. Talent cannot relocate itself to a San Jose for work, we have to relocate where the talent is,” he said.

Bhela cited a recent case of product development at Netapp, saying that 95 per cent of the development happened in India where it has a team of over 3,000 people.

“I don’t believe any good tech company in the US can even exist without having a top-notch development centre in India and Israel. It’s an existential thing now, you can’t really exist in the US (alone),” he said.

One cannot do without Israel and India anymore, he said, adding that both will continue to be important for the company. PTI

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