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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

“India cannot grow when the Govt is led and managed by senior citizens well past the prime”, Ram Krishnaswamy, IIT Global


“India cannot grow when the Govt is led and managed by senior citizens well past the prime”, Ram Krishnaswamy, IIT Global

A B.Tech from IIT Madras, Ram Krishnaswamy the moderator of IIT Global e-groups and MD of NODESCO, Australia ponders over a variety of subjects right from who should lead and manage the country to the molly coddling of the Indian men to the invocation of original solutions to original problems to the dignity of labour.
India’s economy grew at am amazing rate in the last decade piggybacking on revenue from IT Boom, the automobile assembly industry in India & NRI’s from the middle east sending money home. When the dot com bubble burst on 10th March in year 2000, it was a warning sign for Indian economists in advance that economic growth based on India’s cheap labour was not sustainable.
President Obamas speech or should I say rhetoric is at best a motivational speech and that of the Captain of a Sinking Titanic, hoping and praying that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) will help salvage the sinking behemoth killed by its own excesses.
In contrast we have Prime Minister of India who said at IITB Golden Jubilee Convocation, “Excessive pessimism and negativism stems from a revolution of rising expectations”
Speaking at the 50th Annual Convocation of IIT-Bombay PM Manmonah Singh said: “Hopes are high but not often realized.” Recalling his humble beginnings in a Village in Gah he said, “ I studied in the light of a kerosene lamp in a dusty village that had no power, no school or college. There has been enormous improvement. The Progress that has been registered has often fallen short of the expectations of our people.”
Neither President Obama or PM Manmohan Singh may even remember this is what they said or at which meeting, as these are the words of gifted speech writers to appease a given audience.
Perhaps this JFK’s quotation is more suitable.
“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each one of us is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled can be translated into benefit for every one and greater strength of our Nation”, John F. Kennedy
India cannot grow when the Govt is led and managed by senior citizens well past the prime. If India is to progress and its economy grow, we need to limit the age of parliamentarians to 65 after which they should be forced to retire.
Yes it is Indian culture to honour and respect our elders. Would we allow these men and women fly our aero planes or drive buses ? If not, the question is well understood.
Why does a young democracy like India need septuagenarians and octagenarians to be President, Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers, who are well past their prime and may even struggle to remember what they had for breakfast on a given day.
Coming to the point and answering the questions raised:
Indians education system in general belongs with the dinosaurs. Perhaps the engineering system creates literacy and allows students to pass exams and get hold of a coveted DEGREE, which can be a passport to a job in India.
Many senior industrialists have said that about 80% of India’s engineers are not employable as engineers. I am aware of Indian engineers driving tourist cars in India and driving taxis in Australia, suggesting the years spent studying engineering was wasted time and the degree not worth the paper that it is printed on. If we consider IITs then IIT Graduates have served USA a lot more than India and it is possible that President Obama knows only about IIT Engineers and their caliber through the established IIT Brand in USA. IITians may be equipped to meet the Global challenges that Obama is talking about. What Prez Obama may not know is that the IIT Brand has peaked and from now on it will only be a slippery slide down hill, with ten brand new IITs, 49% Reservation and endless Govt Interference with IITs.
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None of the factors mentioned above are holding back the creative energies of Indians, not complacence, not pessimism, not the ecosystem nor lack of vision.
The real Road Block is the mentality of Indians, our own culture and upbringing. Every middle class parent urges the children to study well so they go to University get a nice degree and get a good job and have a good life. This idea of studying well, getting a degree and then finding a good job and rotting there for a life term is something ingrained into us from British times. The roadblocks are embedded in the mind and linked to fear of failure and inability to compete and excel at anything.
Creative energies of Indians especially men get destroyed in the cradle by the mother and grandmother, who molly coddle the male child and prevent him from doing anything from wearing his shoes to tying his tie etc. Indian men in general are useless as a species (there will always be exceptions like myself ☺) and incapable of even changing bulbs or flat tyres or even boiling eggs.
No the men are not to blame. It is the way the Indian men are brought up. Can these men be creative in life?. They never have the need to do anything for themselves in life as the wife takes over from the man’s mother after marriage.
Most white collared men in India get up eat breakfast while reading the paper, get dressed and go to work, come back by 6 or 7 pm eat, watch TV sleep and the day is done. How many Indian men do things in their own houses to fix anything? How many paint their houses or mow the lawns or fix faulty switch etc?
An Indian man in Australia bought a brand new garden hose connected it to the tap and then phoned me and said “Ram I have connected everything properly but I am not getting any water in the pipe”. I had to tell him to go and open the tap. He called back to say how clever I was and that he can now water his garden.
Another time another Indian friend called me at about 11.00pm on a rainy winter night. He had been to friends for a party and now his car wouldn’t start. He said the lights were pretty bright so battery was OK but car would not start. Grudgingly I changed back to my jeans and drove up to where he was parked at midnight. It was not just him he had another friend with him. Both had tried and could not start the car. The car was pretty new and I was furious as I got into the driver seat. Guess what it is an automatic car and the gear stick was on drive and not park or neutral.
I started the car after shifting the stick to Park and stepped out cursing under my breath. The two professional Indian men were so thankful and said I was brilliant. Asked me what was wrong? I bluffed there was a lose connection as I did not want to embarrass them
Another Indian mans daughter bought a dog and a collar and a leash andsome one had to teach the man how to connect the dogs leash to the ring on the collar.
I am sure Aussie men have many more stories like these about useless Indian men in Australia.
Creativity has to be encouraged from Childhood if creative energies are to be tapped.
In 2003 I attended a panel discussion at Sarayu Girls hostel at IITM along with a few IITM classmates of mine. All Panelists were women. The debate was about “how women with IIT Degrees cope after marriage”. The discussion trend was consistent with girls asking why when she and her husband both had the same degrees from the same institutions and held equally responsible jobs, why the minute they came home they had to play wife and mother and do all the cooking cleaning and washing etc. while the husbands said they were tired sat down and had a beer to relax. These men were referred to as MCPs.
I put my hand up and was given the mike. I said “I used to sit with my mother and make chappatis even though I had six sisters as I could not bear to see my mother slogging in the kitchen all day every day. I cooked and looked after my son while my wife was jet setting as a Dupont employee or working back on month ends and financial year ends as most accountants do. I had no problem playing both mum and dad to my son. And I am glad he has turned out as a chip of the old block.
My question to the ladies panel on the dias was “who created these Indian MCPs ?
It was women like you who gave birth to sons and molly coddled them and made them useless. Character and personality traits start in the cradle and creativity needs to be encouraged at childhood as opposed to sona don’t do this and sona don’t do that, be careful you might hurt yourself beta pleas.
In order to be creative, one has to be inquisitive to start with as a child and adults should encourage children who keep asking why? and why not?. Their minds are hungry for answers and clarifications
Steve Jobs was not an engineer. Was he?. The only thing he ever studied was calligraphy at Reed College. A decade later when Steve Jobs was building the first Macintosh computer, Steve jobs designed  all that he had learnt into the Mac. Macintosh was the first computer to have beautiful typography. Apple Desk Top Publishing incorporated all these beautiful typography and fonts and Steve Jobs was assisted by many brilliant IIT engineers with PHDs from MIT and Stamford to make Apple what it is today.
It could even be said that the archaic Indian education system kills what little creativity individual students may have, a system that tells you what to do without asking the question why?.
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Intervention by definition is an orchestrated attempt to rectify something that is wrong. Thank goodness, at least  we are not in denial here. Indian Government will be throwing Tax Payers money into bottomless pits if they believed they could fund a world class innovation ecosystem. If the Govt did it could easily become another Indian Scam that the world can laugh about.
As long as Industry and Academia in India are lagging behind the developed world by ten to twenty years, they will never be able to contribute anything original. There is a lot of catching up to do before they can even talk about leading. We may not be able to create a world class ecosystem in India as long as we are aping the west. India has to break away from this dependency on developed countries.
For example in the health sector, India has some of the best herbal cures for many ailments that has worked for centuries. Yet we need the west to research and publish articles and develop capsules of  Bitter melon extract to help lower blood sugars. This is something Indian pharma should be researching developing and marketing. Another example is the Goji Berry Juice. Goji berries have been grown and consumed by Chinese for centuries but it took some Americans to identify the business potential in marketing Goji Berri Juice Globally. Why do we need Americans to research something we have known for centuries and have been passed down as grand mothers natural remedies? What is stopping Indian from Patenting these remedies and processes. ?
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
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Life is all about making choices and following ones dreams. If you make a wrong choice apply necessary correction ASAP but never kill the dream.
The world is an oyster and you have to dream big in life to achieve your goals. Believe in yourself and listen to your inner voice that never lies to you. Don’t worry if the majority do not agree with you. As Mahatma Gandhi said “ In matters of conscience the Law of Majority has no Place.
Empower yourself with knowledge and experience as a first step and then do your best to impart this knowledge to as many people as possible.
No Matter what job you do or what position you hold, when faced with a task or faced with a dilemma ask your self the question “what would I do if I owned this business?” This approach will make a leader out of you in quick time.
“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of the society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change” Robert F. Kennedy, 1966 Speech.
“Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.” – John F Kennedy
If only India’s elected leaders who understood the value of the human mind, they would lay full emphasis on imparting quality primary education nation wide; which will form the basic foundation to build lives and careers on…
Currently Govt primary and high schools provide sub standard education to students who go on and become engineers get their degrees and become paper pushers. Does not matter how many thousand of crores GoI pumps into Research and development or reinventing and manufacturing Computer Tablets the outcome will be no different.
Another piece of advice would be do not expect juniors to do what you yourself cannot achieve. Lead by example. Be hands on as an engineer and your juniors and colleagues will respect you as a true professional.
Dignity of Labour: One of the Biggest flaws in Indian Culture is the lack of respect and dignity of labour.. This is why we do not put enough emphasis on training skilled labour otherwise knows as Tradesmen such as carpenters, welders, electricians, plumbers, painters.
It is not uncommon for a plumber in Australia to charge a much higher hourly rate than a medical specialist. In India however any one who has a pair of pliers and a screw driver can pose as an electrician. Indian needs millions of tradesmen if our manufacturing sector is to grow. If our manufacturing sector has to grow we need to dignify the work of trades men and pay them decent wages as compared to professional engineers
About the Author:
Ram Krishnaswamy is the Founder and Managing Director (Retd) of Noise Control Australia. He compiled and published in 2008 “Reflections by IITians” , a book showcasing the paths traversed by a diverse range of IITians.  He is the owner/ moderator of IIT Global Yahoo Groups   and Jago India Yahoo group  and is the publisher of the following blogs  “All Aadhaar Related Articles”  , Save IIT JEE , Suicides at IITs,  He actively involved  with  “Jeevodaya”  a Hospice for terminally ill Cancer Patients in Chennai, Tamilnadu. Currently MD, NODESCO – Novo Design Concepts Pty Ltd Pursuing his passion for innovation to serve society at large