‘Make in India’ might be in the ICU but as Pichai’s elevation shows, Indian brains are still in demand
The world may not run on Made in India cars or necessarily wear clothes made in an Indian textile mill or even use Indian weapons but almost every citizen has been touched by software and hardware engineered by an Indian. Now, the news that Sundar Pichai, the boss of Google, is about to become the top dog at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is something that should be celebrated. He, of course, will not be the first Indian to head one of America’s top companies. That honour went to Satya Nadella, who has quietly and surely been heading Microsoft for five years now. Nobody really knows the secret sauce that makes Indian engineers and managers such great corporate leaders. At one level, it is depressing that Indians have to go to the US and to a lesser extent the UK, to discover their ultimate potential. While the success of people like Nadella and Pichai is a matter of great pride for Indians, it is also an awful indictment of the Indian system where mediocrity rules the roost because success is not encouraged through a competitive format or celebrated.
This is evident in a system, where churning out millions of graduates is seen as more important than the concept of excellence, where education for education’s sake matters more than the actual results. One has to encounter a comical situation where you have an apparent doctorate holder applying for a peon’s job. This isn’t an indictment of the lack of jobs but one where the education system has failed us. Because mediocrity is celebrated at the cost of excellence. India continues to suffer immense brain drain because the best and brightest have little choice but to go abroad to fulfill their potential. Of course, India has many ills that the system is aiming to correct, particularly the caste system and the lack of social inclusion but social mobility will come not just from reservations. A serious audit must be done on the reservations in educational institutions even though the idea itself is an anathema to any mass politician. We have to look at the conclusions of the education system and not just the stories of Pichai and Nadella. We have to question why they had to leave the country? And why neither a Nadella or Pichai couldn’t be heading a global top-100 out of India instead. Of course, the US will continue to attract the best and brightest from across the world. That is what makes that country great. But in celebrating Pichai, we should not miss the opportunity to introspect.
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)