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Thursday, 12 April, 2001, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Indian software lobbyist dead
IT billboard in India
Dewang Mehta campaigned hard for Indian IT
The high-profile chief of India's leading software body has been found dead in Sydney, Australia.

Dewang Mehta, 38, president of India's National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), was found in his hotel room after he missed a flight home.


It is a great loss to the Indian software industry

Infosys President N Nilekani
He was part of an information technology team which was in Australia to network with industry professionals there.

"It is a big loss to information technology," Indian IT Minister Pramod Mahajan told the independent Star News television channel from Sydney.

"If there is any one person who deserves credit for promoting information technology as an industry in India, it is definitely Dewang Mehta," Mr Mahajan said.

Mr Mehta's body was discovered by hotel staff.

"The police have been here but there are no suspicions of foul play," Indian Consul General in Sydney, Sudhir Kumar, said.

"It could have been a heart attack but I really can't say with any certainty."

Shock

At Nasscom headquarters in Delhi, employees were stunned at the news.

Dewang Mehta
Dewang Mehta: 1962-2001
"I can't believe it's true. He can't leave things halfway," one employee said.

The office was closed for the day after the news.

Mr Mehta's death comes at a time when India's software industry is facing its worst crisis.

Share values have plunged on the stockmarket, following the slowdown in the US economy.

"It's shocking," Nandan Nilekani, president of software giant Infosys, told Reuters.

"It is a great loss to the Indian software industry."

As Nasscom chief, Mr Mehta had lobbied hard for Indian IT both within the country and overseas.

He was named by Computerworld Magazine as "Software Evangelist of the Year" three years in a row.

Last October, the Geneva-based World Economic Forum selected him as one of the 100 "Global Leaders of Tomorrow".

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