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  Srini Rajam, Texas Instruments Meeting Point (2000)  

Srini RajamWhen Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon's surface, he said something about this being a giant leap for mankind. In 1985, when Texas Instruments first stepped on Bangalore soil, we don't know exactly what they said, but it could very well have been something on the lines of "We hereby declare open India's Silicon Valley" After all, Texas Instruments was the first MNC related to Information Technology to start operations here and if Neil Armstrong's one-liner made history so did Texas Instruments.

An engineering graduate from Madurai University, Srini Rajam's association with Bangalore dates back to 1982 when he joined the prestigious Indian Institute of Science to do his Masters in Computer Science. He passed out in 1984 and was one of the first employees to join the TI India team. In the early 90's he spent a few years in the Asia region based in Singapore looking after the marketing of TI's products, before returning to Bangalore in 1995 to head TI India.

"In the last 15 years, we have grown from a small R & D team of 17 to about 420 people now. Considering that TI is not focused on IT services, but core R & D," explains Srini, tracing the history of TI's growth in Bangalore. Triumphantly he adds, "In terms of quality of growth we have today become the largest R & D Centre of TI in the whole of Asia and our scope of R & D is comparable to TI's other centers located in Europe, Japan and at TI Headquarters in Dallas." Now that's a significant achievement and indicative of the fact that their focus is more on the development side rather than remain just a research lab.

"Broadband" is the buzzword. R & D all over the world is focused on Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL). How high-speed networks are going to change the way people look at the Internet. Imagine a situation where, if you are able access the Internet 50 to 100 times faster than it is today. According to Srini, "Today we cannot do certain things from our home. Like download a huge database or a big picture and things of that nature. But when this kind of bandwidth is available, one can do video conferencing or send huge design information to and fro. So, all these things are going to be possible from your home." Besides, this broadband doesn't require huge infrastructure and it can run on your telephone line. Even if one is logged onto the Internet, the line will still be free for you to receive or make a telephone call. "That's what we call as 'DSL over copper'. The copper line running into homes, can provide this bandwidth," adds Srini, while also stating that Texas Instruments is developing products aimed at broadband technology.

Texas Instruments' contribution to the community

TI's contribution to the welfare and development of Bangalore goes much beyond the many Traffic Signal umbrellas donated to the city corporation. TI is involved in many things behind the scenes. They are very open to ideas and participate in improving the standards of living. For instance, they are working with certain schools by helping them to gain exposure to Information Technology. Besides training the teachers, to inculcate IT awareness amongst the children. In other parts of the country, Texas Instruments have set upon a program to help universities set up technology labs. This is not a show of strength and as Srini Rajam points out "We not only aspire to be world leader in a chosen area or a great business leader but we also aspire to be a role model corporate citizen."

Texas Instruments are world leaders in DSP technology that is driving the Internet era at the core level. Srini explains, "The Internet era is characterized by communication products like the cellular phone, Internet music player and all these things ultimately depend on the convergence of data and video and audio. DSP is an excellent processor to handle that kind of information and TI has 3 families of DSP, each of which is optimized for certain functions." High-density drives like a hard disk drive or a CD-Rom drive need the ability to control the reading part very accurately and DSP's are great in doing that. The C5000 family DSP is the largest volume DSP in the world today that is driving things like wireless, mobile and cellular phone communications. Roughly 60-65% of the cellular phones in the world today, use the C5000 DSP. Another product also launched recently slashes power consumption of cellular phones by 85% and this DSP is aptly termed "Dramatically Slash Power. The announcements made by Texas Instruments World-wide are aimed at the system designers and companies such as Nokia, Alcatel that their DSP's are the latest and fastest in the world for high-speed broadband communication.

Srini isn't in total agreement that Bangalore's infrastructure has degraded over the last 15years, though he does admit that a lot needs to be done. "In terms of traffic congestion and pollution we might be feeling the impact as local residents. But in business terms, I feel and my customers and stakeholders feel that the infrastructure has actually improved dramatically," says Srini.

Srini Rajam wasn't too difficult to meet. Just a few emails were all it required to get an appointment. No fuss about being busy and all that. Yet, he's so friendly and soft-spoken. A bit conservative and extremely religious, perhaps. But this is one techie who is definitely "reluctant to buy on the net at this point of time" though he expects this reluctance to phase out when secure encryption technology become available.

For one whose early days tick-tocked under the shadows of the famous Meenakshi temple in Madurai, respect for religion and culture were already ingrained into his system. And having chosen to take the IT route, he's neither a "nerd" nor a "geek". Just plain, simple Srini Rajam. Just like you and me.

Which will it be? Bangalore or Hyderabad?

The questions itself were dicey enough. Which city will eventually earn the sobriquet of "India's Silicon Valley"? Which city will Bill Clinton visit? Isn't performance more important than personalities?

If you expected soft-spoken Srini's answers to have a vicious sting of a knock-out punch or an upper cut emanating from the likes of a Mike Tyson that has opponents jaws held in position by steel wires, then, we are sorry to disappoint you. Instead, they were straightforward, pertinent and spoken like a true professional.

"My view is that more Silicon cities are good for the country. The more the better. And I also feel that at the moment Bangalore is way ahead of any other city in India. Merely just in terms of the installed base here itself is a huge differentiator to attract more investment. This advantage is going to continue for a long time to come. Bangalore's results speak for themselves. Ultimately, first we are marketing India and only then, the city."

"Now coming to the visit. Bottom line is that it isn't so important. But still, to create a high level of awareness in say, non-IT sectors, I think the visit could prove useful. And a lot of opportunities could come in as a result."

So, there you have it. A world-class leader from a world-class company has spoken. And needs to be heard.

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