Thursday, December 29, 2005

Going Abroad Vs. Staying in India! By Ramkumar IITM M Tech

Going Abroad Vs. Staying in India! By Ramkumar IITM M Tech
25th November 2002 ( Message 181

This passionate letter from Ram Kumar reminds me of Raj Kapoor singing
"AAh Aab Lout ke Chaley" in "Jhis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai".

"Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani Doston"

Going Abroad Vs. Staying in India!

In the seventies and eighties, going abroad was a very attractive option for IITians. The reasons were evident-it was very easy to get aid; there were good prospects for employment and, most importantly, there was job satisfaction. Indian industry was conservative, salaries were low and jobs were few. What has happened in the nineties? The US has been hit by recession. People who finish their M.S. face unemployment and are forced to choose between a programmer's job and doing a Ph.D, a five-year commitment at the end of which you can't even be sure of a teaching job (A typical Ad. for Asst. Professor's job attracts 350 applicants from Ph.D. holders).

So ask yourselves: ' What do you want to be in life?... Five years hence..., Ten years hence,.... and in your mid-forties... If you have romantic ideas of becoming a researcher, I have this to point out, In thirty years of 'manpower export' to the US,
I am yet to hear of a single IITian stud in any field of engineering. WHY? Every IITian who goes to the US discovers, sooner or later ,that one cannot progress in an organisation beyond a stage without an MBA . One discovers that there is more
money in Wall Street than in Silicon Valley.

And so, the tragic ending to the story is that many a brilliant brain has been lost to lure of the lucre. If money is what ultimately matters you can get it by going to the IIMs (multinationals pay salaries in lakhs) or to software jobs (dumb thing to do but, at least, you make a lot of money and escape gheraos and sweat and toil in the factories for a pittance of a salary). Exceptions exist for a few branches of specialization. Consult your friends in the US for more information on these.
For a majority of specializations, what has been said is the bitter truth.

Finally the question that comes to the mind is-' Who should go abroad?' If you are seriously committed to hi-funda research then, depending on your field, you may still have opportunities. A warning: Do not fall for these fields, which, dole out aids by the dozen. It is quite possible that you are being lured because the Native American is too smart to step into a potential career doom.

Another question that needs to be answered is: 'What has changed in India?' Economic liberalization, competitive business, growing awareness of the need to be competitive at a global level, growing importance of manufacturing management (many consulting firms are picking up Engineer-MBA's for such jobs) and higher
salaries for jobs are just a few facets in which India is changing. A typical 21-year-old IITian simply cannot visualise life in the mid-forties. I hear that people want to return to India, particularly if they have teenaged daughters - that is
when the difference in culture and values hits you. You will not understand unless you actually talk to people in this age group.

So think..., think beyond the immediate goals of affluence, hi-tech life, spicy surroundings, instant telephone connections, multi channel televisions... think beyond affluent universities, hi-funda facilities, dream world libraries and hi-tech research. At 45, you cannot,or rather, should not feel empty even after you
get all this. Nobody tells you that there is a glass ceiling beyond which you cannot rise in your profession. Nobody tells you that the choice is often between second-class citizenship,first class standard of living in the USA and first class
citizenship, second-class standard of living in India. Nobody tells you that it feels awfully lonely out there or that many of them feel within months of reaching here that the massive investment of time and money on 'apping' was perhaps not worth

Do you now that much of teaching in the US universities is done by graduate teaching assistants and by Ph.D. students and not by the Profs.? Do you know that a few research supervisors may even stoop to the extent of publishing your research work in their name with your name deleted? Remember, you need a certain level of maturity to think of your priorities-not in today's context but in the context of two decades hence.

Remember your mom and dad are desperate to send you abroad because they belong to a society which thinks that anything from the land of the white man must be superior. Remember you do not have to go abroad simply because your friends did so, your cousins did so or because your parents want you to do so.

Go, if the dirt and squalor of India repels you, Go, if you want to do nothing about it, Go, if the corruption and politics make you puke, And if you do not want to become another T.N.Seshan Go, if you think your future is doomed because of the reservation policy in the country, turning a blind eye to the fact that no
upper middle class kid is doing menial labour.

TAIL PIECE: Go to the US if you are despo. Xerox this article, seal it in a cover and take it with you. Open it on Jan 1st 2006 and send us your feedback.


Ramkumar. R, M.Tech (Civil)
room no 335
Krishna Hostel
IIT Madras - 600 036
Ph: 044-257 8909, 257 9079