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India's digital rescue
Researching companies in India's booming economy is about to get a lot easier. The Indian government announced that it would outsource development of a new, digitized corporate-filing database to software company Tata Consultancy Services, a division of Indian industrial conglomerate Tata Group.
Researching companies in India's booming economy is about to get a lot easier. Last month the Indian government announced that it would outsource the development of a new, digitized corporate-filing database -- think of the SEC's Edgar -- to software company Tata Consultancy Services, a division of giant Indian industrial conglomerate Tata Group. Tanmoy Chakrabarty, head of TCS's global government industry group, will oversee the database's creation for the Ministry of Company Affairs.
"This is a pioneering effort on the part of the government to fund a complete, end-to-end, enterprisewide solution," says Chakrabarty, 43. "Before in India there have always been piecemeal e-governance pilots, which have only brought piecemeal results."
TCS's contract, worth $78.6 million, will transform the way corporate information is stored -- and how readily it can be retrieved. Currently, many of India's 22 registrar centers keep hard copies of company filings in vast warehouses, making it extremely difficult for anyone to track down information. "There are very elaborate and laborious processes in place, which are almost fully paper-oriented," says Chakrabarty. A single record search can take as long as four weeks.
Those paper mountains will gradually disappear. Over the next few months, TCS's project team will build a software system that will allow companies to register and file earnings statements and shareholder information electronically, and will provide investors and shareholders with a database for public information.
The program is expected to launch in about one year; implementation at all of India's field offices will take about six years. The new system won't arrive a moment too soon: Since 1990 the number of companies in India has more than tripled, from 202,000 to 650,000.