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| Y2K Awareness Rising Among Organizations in India
January 8, 1999 (MUMBAI, India) -- With less than 12 months remaining in this
year, the awareness about the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem has started dawning on
major Indian organizations.
|Companies are initiating action to become Y2K compliant. Many companies had
believed that India did not have major Y2K problems because of the widespread
use of UNIX and its low computer penetration rate.
"This notion is not correct, and we have discovered that our UNIX machines
have Y2K problems," said Lalit Sawhney, chief of information systems at
Hindustan Lever Ltd. (HLL). He also serves as chairman of the core group --
set up by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) -- to assess the
status of Y2K compliance in India.
HLL is one of the first companies that claims it is Y2K compliant. It spent
nearly Rs. 600 million (approximately US$14.5 million) since 1996 on its
project. The company had to bring its many facilities in line to become Y2K
compliant. Those facilities include 67 factories, four sales branches, 121
depots, 10 profit centers, 114 accounting units and 106 departments, the
"Although computer penetration in the country is low, the Y2K problem is not
just restricted to computers alone. It also includes embedded systems that
are incorporated in all kinds of factory equipment and machines," said
Raghavendra Rao, a product manager at Satyam Computer Services Ltd., a major
A recent study covering companies with sales of at least Rs. 4 billion (US$96
million) and using IT equipment for 15 years revealed that 70 percent of them
have Y2K problems. Those companies are taking steps to implement safeguards.
However, midsize companies do not seem to have realized the importance of the
problem. They generally lack the resources to replace or correct their
existing Y2K non-compliant computer systems, the study said.
According to estimates, India needs to spend Rs. 14 billion (US$335 million)
to solve the millennium bug problems.
The Prime Minister's Task Force on Information Technology recommended that
the government set aside a fund of Rs. 7 billion (US$167.5 million) to enable
government organizations to initiate steps to become Y2K compliant.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has informed commercial banks and non-banking
finance companies to become Y2K compliant by March 1999 or face penal action.
The RBI has set up a committee, under the chairmanship of Deputy Governor S.P.
Talwar, to monitor the progress of Y2K compliance within RBI as well as other
According to a study conducted by the RBI, 56.74 percent of commercial banks
were expected to have become Y2K compliant by Dec. 31, 1998, and the entire
banking sector is expected to be Y2K compliant by June 30, 1999.
Major stock exchanges, including the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the
National Stock Exchange (NSE), also have initiated measures to become Y2K
"Our software was developed in 1995, and it is Y2K compliant. Also, we use
Tandem's Guardian D45 operating system, which is totally Y2K compliant," said
V.K. Joglekar, deputy general manager of the BSE's Information Systems unit.
Still, there are some gaps that the stock exchanges must address. For
example, the BSE has nearly 540 active brokers and the NSE has about 900
brokers with around 2,000 broker offices, and they need to be Y2K compliant.
The NSE claims to have achieved about 60 percent of its objectives for Y2K
Among major companies, Life Insurance Corp. of India (LIC), which enjoys a
monopoly in the domestic insurance business, has initiated strong steps to
tackle the Year 2000 problem.
(S. Swarn, Asia BizTech Correspondent)
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