The Indian Advantage

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 18 Jun 2018 13:03:42






By Aasawari Shenolikar

When American President Donald Trump flew right across the world to shake hands with North Korean President Kim Jong - un on a neutral territory, that made the headlines everywhere. But what also made news was that Google, the favourite search engine, went into a tizzy as it was flooded with one single question that day that surpassed all the other earlier searches, a question that came from the American homes.... 'Where is Singapore?' While some questions were as direct as the one quoted here, others went like this - 'Is it a part of Korea' .. Korea they somehow knew because of the fear that Kim Jong-un had instilled in them ( remember the nuclear threats) …. to ‘Is it a part of Chinese territory?’ This was clearly because of the Mongolian features of Kim Jong un. Anything and everything that is represented by chinky eyes is presumed to be, well, of Chinese origin by the average citizen of America.

Look at the National Geographic Bee Contestants - of the last ten standing tall, eight were Indo American kids - Nihar Janga of Texas, Venkat Ranjan of California, Gayatri Kaimal of Arizona, Saket Pochiraju of Ohio, Anoushka Buddhikot of New Jersey, Atreya Mallanna of Massachusetts, Ashwin Sivakumar of Oregon, Vishal Sareddy of Georgia. Given these odds, was it any wonder that the winner turned out to be Venkat Ranjan, obviously a second generation Indian. If you look at the entire list of the contestants who represented their State, don’t be surprised to find that fourteen were kids who have their roots in India.

This is at a high school level, a level where many American kids are a part of the school attending contingent. Let’s now come to the higher levels of learning and what do we find.... universities at the graduate and post graduate levels have more students who are from a part of the world that Americans don't have a clue about. Indians and Chinese dominate. Americans form a minuscule part of the ones slogging hard to make a life for themselves. And when it comes to workforce - we’ll here’s an example. A close relative working as a mid level executive while talking of her bosses only reeled off Indian names. My response, ‘Hey, aren’t you working in the USA? Don’t you have any locals who are your bosses?’ The reply was astonishing... more than 45 per cent of the office where she works has Indians - right from entry level to the directors. A few making up the work force are from other South-East Asian countries (with Chinese forming a major chunk of the intelligent, hard working workforce) and the rest, to be counted on the fingers, are Americans.

This is just one office of a Multinational chain in one city.
This scenario is widespread all over the vast continent. In every field- medicine, construction, engineering, teaching - you name it and Indians are shining, adding to the glory of all that makes America what it is. Look at the Indian Americans leading from the forefront - at the helm of the nation’s most selective business schools we have Nitin Nohria at Harvard, Dipak Jain at Northwestern (2001-2009), Rangarajan Sundaram at NYU and Paul Almedia at Georgetown. Not to mention the CEOs who have played an important role in the global technology - Sundar Pichai (CEO Google), Satya Nadella (CEO Microsoft), Rajeev Suri (CEO, Nokia), Shantanu Narayan (CEO, Adobe) and the list goes on....Their contribution, as of other Indians, down the rungs, cannot be ruled out. The main line of reasoning - ‘America has the money to employ people’ is fine, but America certainly doesn’t have the knowhow to utilise the resources it has to make its own citizens do what the others from outside are capable of achieving.

Bruce Livesey from National Observer has very lucidly and candidly laid down the reasons that define America is a superpower made up of Americans who are plain stupid. He ends his Opinion piece with ‘Sixty-three million Americans voted for Trump.’ Nuff said. Now do we need to add more to this? Indians definitely form the backbone of the work force, a fact that wise Americans swear by. These intellectuals have by now, gone hoarse protesting the stringent rules being laid down to oust the hard working Indian from the land of opportunity, a land where his contribution is immense and immeasurable.

Ask the average American student where India is and he will start counter questioning about whether it is Red India or Apache Indian or the Cajun that he is being asked about. Ask an adult about the American Constitution and as the surveys indicate, the results are shocking - only 30 percent know about the constitution and its contents. And every Indian residing there who has applied for a green card and citizenship has the facts of the constitution on his finger tips. Who, then, is intelligent, hard working and sincere? Of course, the Indian! And now it is the UK that is applying strict sanctions against the Indians. Look at the list of healthcare professionals in UK and you will find after the Dr. names like Kunal or Tanvi or Rajat... mostly of Indian origin. Most of them rue that they never get the top jobs - racial discrimination at its best, but they make up a huge chunk of the second rung.

It is unfortunate that these bright youngsters leave our country to go abroad because of the immense opportunities that those countries offer to them. The countries where they migrate to might be discriminating them against the colour, but they do not discriminate merit. And that is what attracts the youngsters who want to make a mark in their chosen profession. Merit being rewarded - that is a huge lure. So ultimately what boils down to the brain drain is that how red tapism, corruption, reservations, - just a few of the factors hamper the growth of our bright children. It can definitely be very frustrating for an intelligent child to be clubbed in the same group with a not so bright kid because the other kid had ‘other means’ to do so. The authorities need to work hard on various fronts if they want to retain the students from leaving their own shores. That said, one fact stands tall and that is an average Indian student is in a far better place than an average student elsewhere.

That is because we bring up our children the right way. While we inculcate values and ethics, teach them respect and reverence, we also focus on their education. Look at an average American high school kid ( Watch 13 reasons why - a series trending on Netflix that deals with the lives of these teenagers) and compare it with the teenagers back home. While our kids, in the same age bracket are busy attending classes - schools and tuitions - and trying to excel because each one in his own group is in the same rank as he, American kids are tackling issues like sex, drugs, violence. Not to forget shooting at will as and when they deem fit. Their key problem is ‘my space and how no one, including the parents, should encroach on my privacy.’

Not that this situation has not percolated in India, but Indian homes like these, as of now, constitute a tiny percentage. The family and the integral bonds that make a family is what still defines Indian and its culture. This is what the Indians take with them when they go to other countries for work. This is what they retain and try to inculcate in their own children, and this is why we excel wherever we are. Indians are a definitely a mighty force to reckon with and other countries should wake up to this fact and respect it. Not make life hell and highly insecure for them by sanctioning stringent visa rules and trying to drive them out from a place where their contribution is immense. And priceless! Indians are a minority in the USA and probably elsewhere in the world. But we are definitely a model minority.