For all the good publicity Indian information technology has around the world, it still largely remains much of an unknown entity in China.
But that is soon set to change, Indian officials say, with a concerted push to promote Indian IT that starts here on Friday, and will take Indian companies to more than 17 Tier-2 Chinese cities in the coming months.
For the first time, the Indian government is organising a “match-making” session between India's most well-known IT firms and more than 300 of China's biggest State-owned enterprises.
For long, the Indian government has spoken of the potential of a natural complementarity between “India's software” and “China's hardware” to help promote trade ties and address a widening trade gap between the two countries.
That potential, however, has remained largely unfulfilled. Many Indian IT companies have established representative offices in China, but have so far struggled to compete with multinational firms, which have a longer presence here, for the lucrative contracts on offer from China's fast-growing State-owned firms.
“Nobody has been talking about how exactly we are going to go about marketing India's software to the Chinese market,” an Indian official told The Hindu.
“The fact is, even now, companies in China don't know an Infosys or a Wipro. We need to start getting out our message better. We need to tell them, ‘We are here, and this is what we can do.' And this is a small step towards doing that.”
On Friday, some of India's most well-known IT companies, including Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Wipro, and Cognizant will have the chance to make a pitch to some of China's biggest domestic companies.
The guest-list includes banking behemoths the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), as well as aviation companies, including China Southern airlines.
In trade talks in Beijing in January, Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma called on China to provide better market access for Indian IT companies here, among other measures to help address a trade deficit which reached a record $16 billion last year.
In a positive sign for Indian IT in China, Friday's session has also been given official backing, with Lou Qinjian, Vice-Minister of Industry and Information Technology, expected to attend.