The Great Indian Obsession
文章來源: 7grizzly2018-09-30 12:00:15

I saw a book, "The Intelligent Indians," at the Computer 
History Museum's gift shop, while visiting with my nephew.
The title piqued my interest but not enough to prompt a 
purchase. I was more interested in learning why than how
or who among the Indians came to dominate the world's IT
scene. In general, I prefer understanding things bottom-up.

Later, searching for related titles, I ran into one more 
promising: "The Great Indian Obsession" by Adhitya Iyer and
bought the kindle version. It was a quick read. I learned a
few things and among them the answer to the why. In summary, 
out of great sufferings came the crazy drive and the will to
survive could lead to amazing achievements.

Of course, that's abstract and over-simplification. Now
let's get concrete.  After going through the book twice, I
found the following answers.

- IIT-JEE: Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance 
  Exam (2% admission rate compared with those of Harvard,
  MIT and Stanford of 5.9%, 8.9% and 6.63%)
- In India, English has become synonymous with education.

- Most importantly, the fact that Indian engineers have been 
  the biggest beneficiary of this (IT) revolution and not
  the Chinese is only because of our acquaintance with English.
- When you watch your parents fight to meet monthly 
  expenses, on one hand, but on the other hand, not spare
  any expense to get you educated, it makes you want to
  listen to them; even if your heart is not in it.*
- So why did Indians ditch their BFF** in favor of the US? 
  It's time to evoke that good old man Macaulay again.
  English played a huge role in the migration of roughly
  40,000 Indian engineers from 1966-73. English enabled
  Indians to seamlessly blend in with the Americans. Indians
  watch the same TV shows, listen to the same rock music and
  also watch the same movies. An American acquaintance once
  told me that Indians are basically just Americans, who
  happen to have brown skin.
- Kids are taught various meditation and breathing
  techniques to ease their stress while appearing for the
  exam (JEE).

The book speaks to me. As a Chinese engineer, having
gone through a no-less rigorously selective process, I can
understand almost all the above.

Of course, as in my personal story, the guts come with the
glory albeit at a grand scale. The Indians paid dearly and in
spite of talented engineers, brilliant educators, and awakening
thinkers like the author himself, the book makes one feel
hopeless for the country. But that's a different topic.

*  How this reminded me of mom!
** Best Foreign Friend, I think, refering to Russia.