One of the greatest revolution of Indian history is taking place right now under our nose, and this revolution is being engineered by the dynamic Indian youth. There is torrential flow of talent-call it knowledge power or by any other nomenclature offshore and onshore. Many feel or fear that it is China that is on the fast track, but it is the same old fable reenacted: the hare and the tortoise, India might be slow, but it is steady and means business with a kind of democracy no other democracy not even the US or the UK can boast of. The Indian youth on the move is a proud heir to his priceless heritage. China must learn sooner than later that it cannot function long with a closed society and an agrarian hinterland untouched by the rising wave of liberalization.
And here is India, a world in itself that has a cutting edge over the rest of the world. It has been the nursery of all the great religions of the world- Hinduism, the oldest religion of the world, Christianity that came to India must before it reached Europe, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, the Bahai sect– 22 official languages, more than five hundred dialects, festivals and fairs by the hundreds, temples – Kerala alone has 25,000 temples of antiquity – churches, mosques, Buddhist and Jain temples, Parsee temples, etc. Education became global in India long before the West contemplated it. Buddhist monks and scholars from China and elsewhere came to Nalanda in the present-day Bihar centuries ago to learn about a faith which is now the major religion practiced in most of the East. Another great centre of learning was Takshasila or Taxila now in Pakistan.
If the Indian youth today is out to give their best to the rest of the world, they are better than the youth elsewhere since they are heirs to an inmortal legacy. The West and the rest of the world is fast “discovering” India.
The world’s richest entrepreneur, Mr. Bill Gates, lamented the condition of the American School System in April 2005. He minced no words when he said: “American high schools are obsolete…. By obsolete, I mean our scholls cannot teach our kids what they need to know today. Training the workforce of tomorrow with the high school students of today is like tying to teach our kids about today’s computer on a 50-year-old mainframe. Our high schools were desinged 50 years ago to meet the needs of another age. Until we design them to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will kep limiting-even running-the lives of millions of Americans every year.
Mr. Bill Gates’ though found echo in President Lawernce Summers of Harvard: ” For the first time in our history, we are going low-wage, high-human-capital communities embedded within India, China and Asia.” And there is warning too: “In Silicon Valley today, ‘B to B’ and ‘B to C’ stand for ‘back to Bangalore’ and ‘back to China,’ which is where a lot of four foreign talent is moving.
The future of India is in the knowledge industries and wide range of other disciplines like biotechnology, nanotechnology and the like. More cities and towns are joining the hubs like Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Greater Noida, Delhi, Kochi, Thiruvananthpuram, Chennai, Mysore and like Engineers at Greater Noida at India’s only world-class optical storage media plant have produced test quantities of a next-generation Digital Versatile Disk, which will pack in five times as much data Music or Video content, as today’s Digital Video Disks and nearly 40 times more than today’s Compact Disks can hold.
India’s population is both an asset and a liability –an asset if we harness our inexhaustible youth power. We are a young country, with a majority of young people, and projections indicate that both the number and proportion of working age people in the population will continue to rise for a few decades more. Whereas India is estimated to have a surplus of 47 million working-age people in 2020, the United States alone will have a deficit of 17 million Our Indian Institute of Technology’s (II) and Indian Institutes of Management’s (IIM) are world class and the number of engineering graduates turning out every year is 4,50,000 compared to 3 million graduates in different disciplines. While the top ten to 15 per cent of graduates are near world class, the rest must be given proper environment and facilities to rise to high levels of excellence. Our top business schools are producing nearly two lakh MBAs some of whom earn fabulous salary.
Mr. Vivek Paul, the highest paid executive in corporate India, left Wipro Technologies recently to join Texas Pacific Group. He helped Wipro rise as a global IT player and raise its business from $150 million in revenue in 1999 to over $1 billion in 2005. His salary last year was $1.6 million. He is an MBA from the University of Massachusetts. Mr. Gourva Aggarwal did his engineering from the Regional Engineering College in Allahabad. He thought an MBA would help him hone his skills further. At the Indian Institute of Management in Kozhikode, Kerala, he learnt the basics and complexities of high finance. He had exposure in the field of business and industry through interactions with the leading names in finance and business in the country. Capital One Financial Service, a global financing consultancy firm, offered him a salary of $85,000 a year. Mr. Aggarwal is doing internship at one of the company’s branches in Banglaore and would shift to the company’s base in Richmond, Virginia (USA) shortly.
There needs to be greater interaction between the universities and centers of educational excellence on the one hand and the industry on the other. The industry looks for the best talent and the university must provide it. One may find several acts of omission and commission in the British Raj, but the legacy of English education has been a mixed blessing. In the East, Indian youngsters excel others and we should put this great asset to the highest advantage possible by sharpening the command over written and spoken English. Better command over English is an asset for technical graduates and trebles their employability anywhere in the world.
The job market has undergone a sea change: new avenues have emerged banking and finance, IT and IT-enabled services, biotechnology, microbiology, telecom, entertainment and media, advertisement, Internet-related jobs, fashion technology, tourism, hotel management, manufacturing, public relations, animation, etc. More disciplines would emerge in the year to come and there could be more institutions.
Infrastructure, especially for science and technology education, needs to be upgraded and continuously updated. Laboratory equipment, libraries, computers with high-speed connectivity, well-equipped classrooms, all these need to be of international standard.
We mentioned about the great Youth Revolution taking place in India: once we talked about the great brain drain and now, there is a reverse brain drain or return flow of talent the orginal springs. Hon’ble President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam mooted the idea of Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas infuse fresh life into the village or provide urban amenities in India’s villages so that the villagers need not migrate to the cities; likewise if Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbia, Pune, Chennai and others cities could provide what many foreign cities are providing, why should the youth leave India. Such a dream has already come true. An alumnus of IIT, Delhi who he set up his own business in Boston has now settled down in Bangalore. He finds he can give the same kind of education for his daughters and give better care to his aged parents in the neighbouring Sate. A software engineer says: ” There are more opportunities in India now. What I can do in Boston, I am confident I can do the same thing in Hyderabad.”
The lure of a career in the US, especially technology, proved irresistible to India’s best and brightest engineering graduates through the 1990s, and even as recently as a few years ago. But with the rapid expansion of India as a centre for software programming and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), thousands of India engineers and managers are opting to go back to India. There is widened fear that “the immigrant Indian entrepreneurs who helped fuel the US technology boom might now start companies in India, and take whole classes of jobs with them. With the explosive growth of India’s economy, cities such as Bangalore or Hyderabad are increasingly seen as new magnets for ambitious technologists00offering an intoxicating mix of hefty raises, multiple job posting, and rapid career advancement, no longer the norm in Cambride or in San Jose, California”.
None knows how many Indian employees have left the American workforce to return to India. The Economic Times estimated that 35,000 have returned to largest high-tech centre, which is now being built around Bangalore. That is still a small fraction of approximately 2.4 million residents of the US, a number that includes Indian-born residents as well as US, citizens of Indian heritage. When all that money can buy plus Indian tradition values of closeness of family are available right here, why stick on abroad? After all, India is India with all pluses and minuses.
Young India is in state of flux. Before they know what happening, the challenges, with all the attendant risks, ready to go to any corner of the earth, ready to innovate and ready to work hard wherever they are. When you are endowed with strong conviction, absolute faith in your self, total dedication to the job in hand and grim determination, nothing and none can stop you from reaching your goal.