The history of "glitch", and why is it popular to outsource to India
01 jul 2017
Indian “hodgie code” has been defined by the history of numerous cavities in the market of software development. Today, the hodgie code is a stereotype about the common Indian approach to development. No, this stereotype does not mean that each and every single Indian developer is a butcher, not at all. There are professional companies providing top-notch services and full-time development cycles.
The more advanced your projects the more difficult it is to succeed. Even if you have a perfect business model with a dedicated plan for each stage of its development, you can face issues. We strongly believe that it is possible to succeed in outsourcing to India. Nevertheless, the stereotyping has its grounds.
In the days of yore, to be more exact, in early 1980, the "hodgie code" or a "glitch" appeared for the first time. Why did it stick to India? We will try to make the situation clear. Among the opinions about the origin of the "hodgie", there is one stating, that "hodgie" took its birth from the friendship of the USSR and India. The USSR practiced teaching Indians the essential programming in their universities. Just then, as it is believed, the first rudiments of "hodgie" appeared during the laboratory programming case studies.
Understanding the basic skills, but not understanding the logic of the code writing, Hindu programmers wrote illogical constructions, and in a case of errors in the code, they used "crutches" concealing the error, instead of searching, identifying and correcting the error itself.
In the result, their vain attempts turned into an unreadable and unfit for further edits code. This code had to be completely rewritten from scratch, in order to change or improve something in the running product.
The true story of Indian programming.
Not the USSR starred in the history of Indian programming. The history of India as a global software exporter and one of the most important outsourcing platforms for multinational corporations began with its cooperation with the United States.
Since the political and economic situation at that time did not give graduates of technical universities almost any opportunities at home, the Indians gradually began to settle in America, significantly increasing its intellectual potential. Those Indians who could not go away remained in a deplorable situation. However, this period also ended with the appearance of an opto-fiber cable.
Somewhere around the end of the 1980s and early 1990s, mainly thanks to General Electric, India became connected with the world, primarily with the US, and this was the beginning of the Indian outsourcing revolution.
The next important stage for India was the "The Year 2000 Problem". The built-in clock in many old computers was programmed in such a way that the dates were counted with only six digits: two digits - a day, two - a month, and two - a year. That means, 31.12.99 was the last date the computer could reproduce.
It required a large-scale reconfiguration because computers could be out of order, on which loads of control systems were tied - from sewerage to aviation. India had enough resources via its graduates in order to cope with this task and to show the world a new form of cooperation that we now habitually call outsourcing. After the "Y2K Problem" the demand for Indian intellectual abilities started to grow.
India has become a profitable subcontractor for two main reasons:
- A sufficient number of English-speaking engineers;
- Cheap services.
Today, India occupies a leading position in the export of services, most of which are software development.
Companies that use the talents of Indian programmers tend to cut costs by dint of a wage gap - Indian developers require about a third of their American and European colleagues' salaries.
An honorable mention: the salary of strongly experienced and skilled Indians is not that different, and it's harder to find them.
The southern city of Bangalore is the Indian Silicon Valley. One of the leading Indian software development companies "Infosys Technologies Limited" has its HQ in Bangalore. The company was founded in 1981 and now has ~ 100,000 employees. For comparison, this is about 10,000 more than Microsoft command staff ( With the assumption, that Microsoft has many Indian employees on board).
India's bright success in IT does not negate the fact that the term "Hodgie code" is always used in a negative sense: "the code is poorly written"; "It's impossible to work with"; "I had to rework everything" and so on.
On the one hand, it is not worth blaming the Indians indiscriminately. The most common opinion on this subject can be formulated as follows: There are either good or bad developers in every country. Plainly, there are more Indian programmers.
But also, there are many newly-qualified “experts” thirsting to write hodgie. The main problem resides in the number of the “experts”. This was determined by history, that the only advantageous vector in India is IT. The former cattlemen, butchers, and bananeros jumped into action willing to mow the loot.
In general, being a developer in India is very prestigious and it is a good social elevator for the great many of Indian people.
On a fairly poor social background, the experienced developers have very good salaries and can afford a lot for themselves in comparison to other segments of people. Accordingly to this fact, many strive to the IT sector and natural selection does its job. Due to the fact, that the majority of graduates in India have no experience, but have a strong will to earn money, the situation in young Indian development companies goes this way:
The team’s composition looks like: Super junior people who can barely work – 50%, junior people that are just a notch better than the first group – 25%, mid-level people that were juniors yesterday – 25%. You’ll also have one senior person who will frequently act as project manager as well.
This fact has been frequently proved in practice.
If you ever had the experience to surf the freelance websites searching for developers, you might have noticed the abundance of Indian developers thirsting to grab your offer. Their resumes are sparkling with the experience and successful projects across the dozen of pages, they accept the offer without reading the task and promise you the moon. In the end (in the majority of the occasions), they deliver the “glitch” or disappear at all. It is generally believed in India, that the more you write either in your resume or in the code the more respectable you become and, consequently, the more money you earn.
If the stars are aligned and you choose the Hindu developer, do not trust the resume completely. It is necessary to conduct a careful selection before recruiting.
As we have already written, a typical Indian resume is a lengthy list of heaps of different technologies, projects, roles, and tasks. Assuming such resume you might get a defective impression, that the candidate is a real godsend.
In practice, if a person has ever participated in a project, where the technology X was used but he has never touched it, he will calmly indicate the “expertise in the technology X” in his resume. So, in order to unveil the incompetence, you have to conduct a technical interview, so the blunt lies will become obvious.
Another unpleasant problem in India is that even after the interview is conducted and the offer is accepted, there is no guarantee that a person will go to work.
In addition to the foregoing, it would be useful to highlight other peculiarities of collaboration with Indian partners.
The Time Window and Cultural Peculiarity.
The first thing that comes to the mind is time window. Due to the ~12-hour difference with India, the American business owners lack time to speak. It is very difficult to find the moment to contact your Indian partner. In fact, when you are tired and worn out come home and dream about a shower and supper, Indian developers are starting their working day, and, vice versa, when you are starting your working day, they are tired and worn out. While you sleep, somewhere on the opposite side of the world the work is humming.
Next up, Indian culture. We have already mentioned the Indian culture in one of our articles. They refuse to say NO. But (!) Indian YES is not the YES we know. For example, when you talk to an Indian developer and tell him, that the milestone is required to be reached until the end of the week, he answers “YES”. It does not mean, that the milestone will be reached until the end of the week, it means that the developer agrees with the fact that it is required to be reached. Yes in India frequently means the following:
- I am hearing you;
- I hear you but I don’t understand you and won’t admit it;
- I acknowledge I have received your request;
- I recognise your status;
- I am being polite;
- I will do it if nothing else happens that’s more important;
- I will deliver something but...
BUT not YES we know.
In addition, Indian people do not like to write down the crucial keynotes. This, consequently, leads to revisiting the same issues again and again. Now couple the above mentioned and get a picture of what you might face.
Some would say, that the unique time zone is a good advantage because they can focus on the company's primary goals while Indian partners work while the business owners sleep.
Why is it still popular to outsource the project to India, while they write hodgie? Let us consider, who outsources business. The majority of projects outsourced to India is created by startups. In terms of a startup, the budget is quite tight, so recruiting a real expert is an uneconomical choice. So, the obvious solution comes to the mind: outsourcing! Where to outsource? -India, because the labor there is cheap, and, sometimes, quality.
The problem of low-quality work of programmers is not the problem of Indians only. India offers a lot of hands, and these hands are very different, so it turns out that it is in the history of Indian outsourcing that the desire to reduce costs to a minimum and save money is best reflected. This leads to the opposite effect - increased costs and additional problems. Such a wish is normal for simple and monotonous tasks, but in case you have a complex and serious project - get ready to pay for a professionally executed work. This will help to get the desired result and not to get the personal experience of the "glitch".
The outsourcing gains in popularity each year, and the number of projects outsourced to India consequently does the same thing. We do not insist on the fact, that there is a 100% possibility to receive a “glitch” from Indian development teams, but still, this possibility exists. It can happen, that the first time you outsource to India, you hire a team of skilfull professionals, and the second time you receive the hodgie.
There are many representatives from the US who are completely satisfied with their Indian partners and tend to continue outsourcing, while there are companies frustrated with their experience. There is an aspect of a lottery in the Indian outsourcing - It's a case of swings and roundabouts.
The main thing important to remember is that there is no need to tar all with one brush.