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Dewang Mehta (August 10, 1962-12 April 2001) was the head of NASSCOM from 1991 to 2001; born on August 10, 1960, in a sleepy hamlet called Umreth, in the interiors of Gujarat, India he's credited with a large portion of India's momentous rise as a "software giant"
He was an alumnus of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's Mehta Vidyalaya, New Delhi of 197 by 1984, though it was clearly not his only calling. Right through his student years, Mehta dabbled in an assortment of work, adding to his skills and professional credentials. Apart from a brief flirtation with journalism and a long-time affair with writing, he also participated in politics. Another passion was computer graphics and he learnt about this emerging hi-tech segment at the Imperial College London, where he also had his first encounter with movie and ad film making.
His interest in film making went back to 1977, when on a vacation in his village he was introduced to celebrated director of the “art cinema genre,” Shyam Benegal. For two months, Mehta worked with Benegal as a spot boy, absorbing the finer nuances of film making and getting a feel of the action behind the camera.
The turning point in Dewang Mehta’s life came in 1991 when an old time friend and Information Technology industry veteran Harish Mehta offered him charge of Nasscom, an association dedicated to the needs of the fledgling Indian software industry. Mehta accepted a part-time assignment with the organization that allowed him to pursue his other interests.
The period between 1991-2001 was one of transformation and growth, for both Nasscom and Mehta. Each drew sustenance from the other. As Mehta grew in stature, gaining respect within the Indian ICT sector as an industry leader, Nasscom too began to evolve into an association of substance.
Software Industry Development
Dewang Mehta played an important role in lobbying the Government on behalf of the fledgling Indian software industry. Mehta’s knowledge of the correct people to lobby, his cooperative stance with IT-related departments such as the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, the VSNL and more recently, the Ministry of Information Technology, enabled him to gain concessions while other industries struggled.
Recognizing the potential of the software and services segment as a major foreign exchange earner, Mehta launched the India Inc. crusade, where he personally presented the country’s software industry to the world. Today, the software sector has set before itself an enormous ambition of $50 billion worth of software exports by 2008.
Mehta played the role of the guru, to central and state governments, guiding them along the path towards IT-fication. He helped at least 19 state Governments draft their IT policies, and create the requisite infrastructure to aid the cause of software within their realms.
Besides a dream for the software industry, Mehta had a blueprint for the IT industry and how it could be used effectively to change the lives of India’s teeming millions. He wanted the benefits of IT to make its way down to the grass root levels and his favorite slogan, “roti, kapada, makan, bijli and bandwidth” epitomized the needs of the emerging, 21st century Indian.
Mehta died due to heart attack on 12 April 2001 in a Sydney hotel.