Infosys cofounder Kris Gopalakrishnan is embarking on an ambitious project to document the expansive history of India's now $160-billion IT industry and is setting up a new not-for-profit organisation as part of that project.
In an interview on Saturday, Gopalakrishnan said that the organisation would be housed at the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore (IIIT-B) and that the finer details are currently being worked out.
On Sunday, Gopalakrishnan launched a new smartphone app called Itihaasa that aims to extensively narrate the history of India's IT revolution over the past six decades.
"I'm setting up an organisation to house this (project). It will be at IIIT Bangalore - and they will extend this, continue to add more people, keep this alive, etc. Plus I want to offer this to other people who want to document history because the application is already there, the framework is there, the platform is there. I don't know where that will go but it is possible to document other history projects inside this," Gopalakrishnan said.
Early last year, Gopalakrishnan also parked $50 million of his personal wealth (about $1.8 billion according to the Forbes 2015 list) on research that aims to create the next computing revolution - computers modeled on brain functioning. Now, Gopalakrishnan is setting aside more of his personal wealth on this ambitious new project.
"The details are yet to be worked out because you have to set up a corpus which will require some substantial money. I have not decided how much it will be, because per year if you have to keep this running with 3-4 people, we'll probably be spending Rs 1 crore," he added.
Itihaasa app contains extensive interviews from iconic former and present captains of the IT industry including the likes of TCS founder FC Kohli, Wipro's billionaire chairman Azim Premji and Infosys founders NR Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani.
The app also contains extensive archives of newspaper articles on the Indian IT industry dating back to the 50s. In all about 44 present and former executives and professors were interviewed for this project.
"And I wanted to do this on a tablet or a smartphone because that's the format that's relevant today. Maximum number of users are on these. And it's fun to release something as an app," said Gopalakrishnan.
"We've taken an amazing amount of time to edit it and tag it. There are 12,000 plus tags. It's more than just research - it's about documenting and putting it in this format. We spent almost 45 days going through the archives (of newspapers such as the Times of India), selecting the articles manually because there's no index for them. Now in this platform they are all indexed," he added.
With Itihaasa, Gopalakrishnan also wants to bring a newer form of storytelling to life, especially one that is completely digital.