December 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

Blogs & Sites We Read

Blog powered by Typepad

Search Site

  • Search Site



  • Counter

Become a Fan

Cat Quote

  • "He who dislikes the cat, was in his former life, a rat."

« Hitler and Homework | Main | Planetary Politics and Pardigm Shift »

August 23, 2006


My own impression, formed in the recent years through interaction with family members and friends still in the educational system or just coming out of it, is that the field of opportunities has broadened, not narrowed to just medicine/engineering/call centre type jobs. My niece landed a job as a trainee in an advertisement agency just within weeks of graduating with a B.A. in Visual Communications ( majoring in graphic arts, media and communications, film making,etc.) My sister, on the flip side, majored in Electronics and Communications engineering, but is working with mainframes (not really related to her major) in Infosys for the last couple of years. She has plans to do an MBA after working for some more years. The current ( and in my opinion, realistic) focus for many young people is to plan to get a job to (1) pay off bills/family obligations (2) pursue the real desires of the heart as a hobby rather than a vocation. Some of them even make a switch in careers many years later, as did my friend, who abandoned her B.E in Computer Sci and M.S in the same to switch to being a psychologist working with trauma victims.

Perhaps there is hope for the survival of philosophy, literature, fine arts and the like, if only as much loved hobbies or second careers for those inclined to pursue them in depth.

You might want to look at this rather hopeful view of the new generation of India's talent pool for another take on the subject of whether turning India into a nation of call centre/ repetitive programming drudgery is taking a different direction.


Great post. I enjoyed reading it and could relate to almost all the points it made. I too took science in school and later college and IIT. I was a recipient of the prestigious National Science Talent scholarship. So, I am a huge beneficiary of the Indian government's emphasis on science education. And I am both grateful for that and aware of the emphasis that the enitre Indian society placed on science education.

My observation about the connection between the two disparate threads in your previous blog post (on which I commented) was an ironic one, and yes, perhaps somewhat of a stretch.

My point was not so much that the outsourced education providers will have a say in the curriculum of American schools, but that blindly accepting their ideas of educational success would not be productive in the right way.

Friends from Mumbai, who have a ten year old son visited us a few months ago. They described the tough schedule of their son's school days: after school he goes to coaching class almost every night and on weekends. The kid has a talent for tabla, but there is "no time" for classes. They conceeded that the educational system when we were growing up (in the 60s/70s) was more rational and manageable compared to the hell that it has become now.

Ironically, I have come to my jaundiced view of the Indian educational system in the years that I have lived here in the States. Partly because I have seen how my kids are taught and the critical thinking ability they develop. More importantly, I have encountered a broader cross-section of Indians here than I would have in India. Consider:

1. An IIT graduate who believes in a guru who can perform miracles.

2. Another IIT graduate who believes that it is not the role of govt. to help poor people.

3. Too many who believe that the Indian system of affirmative action is wrong. In my view it is deeply flawed, but something like that is necessary to help the people who are on the lowest rungs of society.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Each time Tom Freidman writes about the exalted Indian and Chinese school systems, I feel as if nails are being drawn on a chalkboard.

Cool analysis - will reply in detail later.


The hitlers cross ured restaurant is currently beign featured on our local abc nighty news channelhere in DC .check more at

One of your relatives-- Kaka's brother-in-law was nicknamed Hitler. The point is that for most Indians, illiterate and semi-literate that they are and overwhelmingly young, they simply associate Hitler as a "strong man"-- a person who will set things right. They simply don't relate to WWII, leave alone the Holocaust. There aren't too many Hitlers around but the number of people named Stalin is not insubstantial.

Thanks for reminding me of that bit of colorful family history! That Hitler was born in the 1940s well before the Indian independence and before the extent of Nazi atrocities was common knowledge. His parents, Indian nationalists, were inspired by Netaji's abortive efforts to join forces with the Germans to beat the British. Had they known what we now know, I am sure they wouldn't have chosen it, even as a nick-name. By the way that Hitler grew up to be a dedicated Marxist and used to joke that his political beliefs were the biggest revenge for his misguided name!

Hi - this is such a peevy subject, because I am not able to decide whether I should explain why the education system in India is the way it is or talk about the new opputunities that are coming up for the younger folks, which means that they need not be tied up so geeky professions.

Also - please, show me how many people are able to make a better living by choosing the liberal arts either in India or even USA for that matter.

As humans, we are genetically programmed to work and produce - arts be damned, I like my economy be decided by science and technology only than anything else. :)

Definitely an excellent, insightful post.
Perhaps the impressions of an ex-IITian on his alma mater might resonate?

Thanks for reading and providing the link to your own walk down the memory lane. Those are some excellent observations.

I wonder how many Indian students even go through the same doubts and misgivings about the quality of their education that you, PIAW and I have experienced? Does the promise of a bright and lucrative future cloud other concerns? And perhaps the second thoughts and regrets for a youth flown by without smelling the roses come a bit later - in middle age? Or perhaps not at all.

Again, thanks for the insight. Hope to "see" you again at Accidental Blogger.

I noted with some amusement and interest that you too used the word "incurious" in your article - same as PIAW did in her comment. A great word to describe the pathology of self satisfaction.

You may have interpreted my post as "anti- science & technology," which it is not. I am a huge fan of science, rationality and the "no crap" thinking style. I have never had any doubt about the benefits to a society which values scientific thinking and applications. For the most part, I define progress and productivity by that yardstick. In fact I believe that our political system wouldn't be such a mess if more scientists, engineers and doctors ran for public office instead of the current crop of airheads and obscurantists who populate the political scene.

My post was directed more towards an education system which puts blinders on the eyes of students at a very early age - sometimes turning them into glorified technicians rather than independent thinkers. It is very disappointing to encounter a seemingly (and often certified) "sharp" mind which does not ( or cannot) stray beyond the strict boundaries of its own learned expertise. A scientist with an appreciation of history, politics, literature and even the fine arts, is unquestionably a better member of society - perhaps even a better scientist. Similarly, I fully expect students of liberal arts to better excel in their fields when they have a reasonable understanding of the sciences.

I was lamenting the lack of an integrated approach in Indian education which compartmentalizes too much, making communication across the divides an impossibility. That increases the danger of scientists turning into socially and culturally stilted automatons. And the non-scientists become pseudo-intellectual windbags who must cover up their ignorance with bluster. Not a good thing for a healthy national conversation.

John Adams, the 2nd US president wrote in a letter, to his wife Abigail Adams:

"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."

The US is on the third phase of its evolution as a culture and civilization and India in the second.

Interesting as John Adams' description of the evolution of education is, I do not agree with him.

The acquisition of human knowledge is an on going process - each generation must learn anew and become the repository for the next one. Surely, we must pick and choose as we go along. Much ancient wisdom is obsolete and unnecessary to pass along. However, at no stage of human civilization, do we have the luxury to learn math / philosophy at the expense of politics, war and peace. Nor should we relegate philosophy and science to the dust heap of history in favor of poetry and porcelain.

The point of my post was that lacking a genetic memory of all things learnt in the past, humans are condemned / blessed to learn anew what their ancestors had also struggled with - albeit with better tools. A society must strive to keep all its engines well oiled and firing - at all times. Sure, science and technology take precedence in modern society over philosophy, poems and pottery. But not wholly. My point was that India is not really in Adams' stage II - geography, natural history and philosophy do not unfortunately figure prominently in the scheme of things. It is also wrong to say the US is in stage III - at least I hope not! A society of only poetry and porcelain in the absence of mathematical precision and scientific pragmatism, even figuratively, is not the most vibrant form of existence.

As I said, let all branches of human endeavor be kept alive, if possible. A system which allows all those disciplines listed by Adams to flourish simultaneously and nourish each other, is the most wholesome ideal in my opinion.

I am afraid that with an ignorant and belligerant leadership currently in power, we may be sliding back to warfare as our primary national pursuit in the US.

The comments to this entry are closed.