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Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani, and Wipro President Vivek Paul directly influenced Thomas Friedman's acclaimed book, The World Is Flat, according to Fortune Magazine.

In February 2004 Tom Friedman was roaming about Bangalore, interviewing call-center workers, software engineers, and CEOs.

As Friedman tells it, he came up with his book proposal on the final day of the trip, when he visited the headquarters campus of software services firm Infosys. "Tom, the playing field is being leveled," Nandan Nilekani told him. On the car ride back to his hotel, Friedman, as he is wont to do, began chewing over the phrase. "What Nandan was saying, I thought, is that the playing field is being flattened," he writes in the book. "Flattened? Flattened? My God, he's telling me the world is flat!"

At a dinner party at Nilekani's house that night, Friedman began excitedly mapping out the book, chapter by chapter. "He's an intellectual entrepreneur," says Nilekani. "Entrepreneurship in the business world is about a guy who has the best idea and acts very quickly to get his product to market. He's the equivalent of that."

Friedman enlisted Nilekani and Vivek Paul as his chief guides in figuring out just what had happened to make the world so flat. He also consulted old friends like Cisco's Chambers, venture capitalist Doerr, and E*Trade CEO Mitchell Caplan. Among the business leaders Friedman sought out for the first time were Michael Eskew of UPS and Michael Dell, who helped him explain the evolution of the global supply chain. Yet others sought Friedman out: In July 2004 he presented a back-of-the-envelope version of the book's argument at the Allen & Co. media-mogul summit in Sun Valley, Idaho. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and chief technical officer Craig Mundie came up to him separately afterward and told him that he had the story mostly but not entirely right (Friedman was very enthusiastic about open-source software) and offered to help straighten him out.

Fortune Magazine does offer some constructive criticism of the book, but concludes that Friedman's book... is the best, most readable account available of this remarkable moment, when the two most populous nations on earth are jumping into the capitalist pool and hundreds of millions of other people around the world are finding-or having forced upon them-new and previously unimaginable ways of making a living and making their voices heard.

[Fortune]