Nation Building in Action: How An IIT Alumni Contributed To India's Internet Story
The KGP Chronicle (November 25, 2021)
Just as India was entering a new dawn in its political and economic history as an independent nation in the early 1990s, Bijendra K. Syngal, an IIT Kharagpur alumni (EC/1962/RP), returned to India to take up the reins of the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL). His arrival jolted the old-style, stodgy public sector company into taking charge of the telecommunication revolution in India. Syngal navigated through financial uncertainties, economic instability, and political turmoil to introduce the Internet in India. His efforts played a direct role in expanding the software industry from a 60 million USD industry in 1991 to a nearly 2 billion USD industry in 1998.
Mr. Syngal took charge of VSNL roughly around the time when India liberalized its economy. The times were hard and the ride was rocky for someone who had just left his cushioned tax-free job with INMARSAT in London. He navigated through multiple challenges and change-resistant attitudes, to rebrand VSNL as a results-driven, internationally renowned organization. During his tenure, VSNL’s revenue increased from 125 million USD in 1991 to 1.6 billion USD in 1998. Its profits shot up from 32.5 million USD to 240 million USD in the same time. VSNL also issued the biggest Global Depository Receipts (GDR) out of India and the third-largest out of Asia (apart from Japan) during that time and eventually got listed on the London Stock Exchange. (Read More)