Greener on the other side

Every year, come graduation day, a good percentage the city’s brightest talent decides that they must henceforth shine in the land of George W Bush. We call it brain drain. I do not have a definite answer to what the Americans might label the exodus from Indian shores, but I believe it’s close to “the suckers who pucker up”.

Today’s Hindu has an article that examines both sides of the fence. It might do you good to give it a run through, especially if you’re perched on the picket.

Click here to read.

10 Comments so far

  1. anantha (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 3:22 am

    This is another article that makes the standard misconceived assumptions on why people get out of India to go to the US. In case someone really needs to know, they really just needs to ask someone and not (to repeat that cliche) make an ASS of U and ME the same age old assumptions again and again.

    So why do people get out of India? In a lot of cases, its not always the money (will come to that argument in sometime), not that people will believe that statement. In a lot of cases, like mine, it is about choosing to stay away from the herd. If you are a science/engineering grad, you don’t have the job options apart from getting the ubiquitous software job. My non-software options were engineering companies that were offering a pay of 10k (the best of them) when the software companies were offering upwards of 15k. Also in a couple of interviews, my competition (for the same position) was students that had a diploma. And they’d need to pay those guys even lesser.

    So, in spite of proficient in the coding languages that I had been exposed to at that point (C, C++, Pascal), I chose not to take it, because in my eyes, a software engineering position is not a natural progress of my mechanical engineering degree. However a masters degree in Industrial Systems Engineering with an emphasis on production planning seemed a better alternative, since I was getting a decent scholarship and a fee waiver. But that is just me.

    And that is just one reason that applies to people who leave for their higher education and stay back. Among the people that I know that has come back to India after their Masters, very few people have actually gotten jobs that are natural progressions of their higher degrees. A number of people I know I have gotten back and joined the Infys, Wipros and the Satyams (not that anything is wrong with it) and in some cases, the Oracles and the HPs and the TIs.

    However, for the people who come in directly from India with a H1 via the ubiquitous software job, its almost always about the money – billing rates. Typically the salaries that software companies pay for their “consultants” in the US is very less compared to the salaries that companies that are based in the US pay.

    So they dont want to go back to India. It’s not the quality of life. Really. Another assumption that people make is that I am here because of the quality of life. Every place has its negativities. And if someone is making a mistake of choosing the US over India for its standard of living, it is the people who have not been in a university here. For example, it seems that a vision of utopia has been propogated in the corridors of the software companies in India. My cousin came here on a short term project and was shocked to see that this place was no way like what his co-workers had described. He found himself in small town USA where attitudes are as conservative as small town India and that, for him, was a reverse culture shock. So it’s all hype that is causing these issues.

    Sorry for the long comment. This is a pet peeve!

    (P.S: Somehow I find that “suckers who pucker up” phrase very offensive.)

  2. anantha (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 3:25 am

    If you are a science/engineering grad, you don’t have the job options apart from getting the ubiquitous software job.

    That should read “did not“. That was a typo.

  3. Partha (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 6:42 am

    As someone who “ditched” the motherland 30 years ago for a PhD in the US, a challenging job at AT&T Bell labs and eventual US citizenship (although after several years of procrastination and for all the wrong reasons), let me offer my biased opinion on the article.

    I was very much disappointed with the argument put forth for staying away from the US. What the author describes are events from the recent past.

    I came to the US for several reasons, not all of them having to do with better opportunities. I cherish my individual freedom enormously and even today, in my biased view, there is no other country that celebrates individual freedom better than the US does. Of course, there are enormous problems in this country, but to put forth an argument based on post 9/11 events is to ignore the history of this country.

    I would like to ask the author if he is proud of the treatment of women, treatment of minorities, female infanticide, corruption, lack of individual discipline, etc, etc. in India. One would like to think that despite all these problems, India is a shining example for many developing countries around the world.


  4. vatsan (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 8:15 am

    it is about which system one can adopt to, the chaotic indian system, or the ordered system in the us. its not about the money after a point of time. also manoj, higher education in india sucks.

  5. anantha (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 10:01 am

    Have to agree with Vatsan on his last line. One of my undergrad teachers is doing her Phd in a government run research institution and the conditions and the wheeling/dealing that she describes there are appalling.

    In the US, however, personal issues are mostly not let into the equation. If there are personal issues, those are either sorted out or the student transfers elsewhere with minimum fuss. And usually a Phd takes 3 to 4 years here.

    And oh btw, a Phd in India takes you nowhere in terms of monetary benefits. When I graduated with a undergrad degree, I did not know of a lot of industries that would employ people with Phds. So most people with Phds ended up teaching. But here, most companies welcome Phds with open arms, employing them at an higher pay scale than people with Masters or undergraduate degrees.

  6. tsk tsk (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 11:46 am

    Alot of B school jobs dont come to chennai as well. There is no job profile in chennai that is very rewarding apart from IT/ITES. sure there is journalism/advertising/automotive/healthcare and banks.. but their size is trivial and the individuals reward is not so great on in comparison(in an average sense i mean, there will always be odd acheivers) … i guess if we had a breadth of opportunities in high paying jobs – such as in finance, supply chain consutling, retail, gems, FMCG, Entertainment, Hospitality etc. we might not experience such a high degree of brain drain.

    In India i guess Mumbai still retains its status of the land of opportunities.

  7. Ela (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 8:17 pm

    Interesting post and equally quite interesting comments…I am not in US but in Germany and as person away from India and also as someone fron Biological sciences, i think i can share my views here. May be the people working with software are earning a lot(may be)but most people tend to overlook the fact that someone who is earning in Dollars is also spending in Dollars in US, not in Rupees… At least for me here, with the money that i get as a fellowship for my research, it is enough for my living and paying for the flight to visit home once in a year and buying gifts…. It will be the same even if i finish my phD and go on as post doctoral research fellow. Then what have i gained for the pain of being away from home and from my people? Knowledge and the ways how this knowledge can be put into action…. The basic education in India esp. in Tamil Nadu is gr8…my proffessor here is quite amazed and happy with my knowledge on subjects…but when it comes to active research we really fail….There are many reasons….lack of funding by the government since the politicians are not really excited about basic sciences and research…..lack of accountability of our Universities when it comes to active research…it can go on… but one must appreciate the best research done by few scientists still…. Acquiring knowledge is an active process which should have no boundaries….I always imagined (or atleast try to imagine)the travellors of olden times, who undertook such long journeys going from continent to continent collecting and spreading knowledge…how much fun they should have had…travelling to new places and learning new things!!! I came abroad for the same reason…to learn new things from different people…to keep myself open to the broad world…

    In India now some of the best research insitutes have scientists who have been to foreign countries and who brought back the knowledge and collaborations of best people from abroad. As for my knowledge people do take advantage of the hard work and intelligence of Indians and other nationals but definitely they don´t think that we are ´suckers who pucker up´. Indians abroad are respected by their fellow proffessionals for their dedication and hard work……And they are also kind of brand ambassadors for spreading our culture, food and life style…(much more than the glittering celebrities, believe me)
    As for the people who desparately long for a Green Card, one has to still appreciate that they contribute to India´s growth by the money they send home…

  8. Aruna (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 11:26 pm

    I can see the author of that article chose a few examples to paint the whole country. Each country has some good and some bad pts.
    In the US schools are free and breakfast and lunch are provided free for low income kids. If a child misses school habitually the school sends the police to investigate the reason.
    Kids are not seen begging at traffic signs(but there are a lot of adults, many are alcoholics or have mental health issues)
    If politicians are caught breaking the law, they usually have to pay a price, even jail time for the corrupt ones in common. The FBI investigation of corruption is the highest in years now.
    A person can reinvent himself by getting higher education at any age. No one will stop a bright person from studying.
    People pay taxes and expect the Govt to provide good roads, parks and libraries.
    This does not mean the U.S is all nice and clean. There is corruption, intolerance, laws get broken. But no place is free of such problems. We should stop and see– it is not countries that are good or bad. It is the people who live in a land that make up these qualities.There are generous, decent people and also scumbags in all countries.

  9. Manimaran (unregistered) on September 25th, 2007 @ 10:33 pm

    I am in USA for the money.. Yep.. I can’t say how much is enough but I have come to a point saying this much should be enough.. Its a personal decision, and I don’t want to stay in US permanently..

    Reasons.. Standard of life can be high but Quality of life in US sucks.. You earn in USD$ and spend in USD$.. Anything and everything is expensive.. Labour costs are high.. Salary levels are dropping for the same job, so you are saving less.. Hire Fire policy does not give you stability..

    Since the society is advanced, they have a better bigger infrastructure but public in general have a “I don’t care” attitude for problems which happens beyond their boundaries and does not affect his/her individual lifestyle..

    Re-Invent yourself at any point of life… Why should you reinvent yourself if you have proper education in the first place..

    Society gives importance only to youthful looks and hate to age gracefully..

    Life in US cities can be a dream if you watch Indian movies which gives a rosy picture and hype it as much as possible without telling the real story..

    Next issue is security for your life as an Immigrant with Green card or Citizenship..

    Do you really want your life to be on the edge everyday of life in this trigger happy society..

    Read this article to make your own judgement..

    U.S. most armed country with 90 guns per 100 people Tue Aug 28, 2007 1:57pm EDT

    By Laura MacInnis

    GENEVA (Reuters) – The United States has 90 guns for every 100 citizens, making it the most heavily armed society in the world, a report released on Tuesday said.

    U.S. citizens own 270 million of the world’s 875 million known firearms, according to the Small Arms Survey 2007 by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies.

    About 4.5 million of the 8 million new guns manufactured worldwide each year are purchased in the United States, it said.

    “There is roughly one firearm for every seven people worldwide. Without the United States, though, this drops to about one firearm per 10 people,” it said.

  10. Madras Lungi (unregistered) on September 29th, 2007 @ 10:32 pm

    Well..Well What can I say…Another Sour Grapes story.

    The writer is too naive.

    His comments – The lawlessness among the American children who kill their own classmates in schools should make them think twice before they venture to bring up their own kids in such a country.

    Now my question – The lawlessness of our politicians who kill/attack their own people who even dare talk against them…should make the people run away from their own land isn’t it? I mean your homeland India! ( author – can you talk bad about your politicians openly )

    All a bunch of BS!!

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