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Far Away from India's Silicon Valley, Mindtree Mines the IT Brain in Kalinga

Bengaluru: In one corner of the eastern part of India - far removed from the concrete jungle of Bengaluru's showpiece IT industry where hundreds of thousands of engineers are writing millions of lines of software code every day, sitting in plush American - styled campuses of companiessuch as Infosys - is housed a project that may arguably be one of the most ambitious bets that software services firm Mindtree has undertaken during the course of its 16-year history.

And more importantly, cofounder and chairman Subroto Bagchi is hoping Mindtree Kalinga - the company's brand new flagship training centre in Bhubaneshwar - can set new standards in training engineers across India's $146-billion IT industry and become a template that other companies can replicate.

Mindtree has so far invested $20 million on the 20-acre Kalinga project, which seeks to bring about a paradigm shift in the mindset of fresh engineering graduates, who join IT services companies in droves every year As Bagchi points out, the investment is high - considering the per person cost of the 500 employees - 48% of them being women - who are trained in batches at this centre.

"The per person cost is more than what you would have paid in a leading MBA school - but you know what, this is the right thing to do. Because otherwise we don't stand a chance," said Bagchi in an interview with ET, adding that it took nearly 10 years to bring this project to life.

Indian IT's largest customers such as General Electric and Citigroup have long complained that most Indian companies are good at taking orders, but not great at problem solving. And that is a problem Bagchi wants Kalinga to address.

"Today everything is getting coinmoditised, it's because we are commoditising everything. As an individual walks out of here, he or she carries a digital portfolio, where the person will highlight capabilities, pet project developed and finally their best failures," said Bagchi.