Why does India lag behind in technology?
Indian people are extremely clever and are prepared to study, but the emphasis is always on money. I've never met so many people who are so focused on money.
If the focus was curiosity and creativity, then India has the brains to make huge advancements.
During travels around India, many people tell me about Indian religion and culture and food etc, but they never ask me about my life at home. If I offer a different view on culture based on my way of life at home, I am told that the Indian way is better. I think people could open their minds a little, ask more questions about the world outside of what they know,question they have been told all of their lives and they may find ways to push forwards.
Mira Zaslove, American, who has been to Delhi 8 times as a kid
The biggest impediment to innovation and technological creation in India is largely political and cultural. India still struggles with corruption, bureaucracy, inequality, poverty, and lack of infrastructure. But considering that India just gained independence within the last 67 years, things have already come a long way. India's economy is growing. If India is able to continue to improve her political, economic, and cultural environment, I believe she will be able to leverage her knowledge and people to really take off.
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From an American's perspective:
I work in an engineering group at a Fortune 50 Silicon Valley tech firm. The Director, VP, and GM of the IT department are all Indian. Most of their spouses, are also Indians in technology. Indian consultants from WiPro, Infosys, Tata Consulting, and other contracting groups have replaced full time local employees.
Walk into any IT department of almost any major tech firm, and you will see more Indians than any other immigrant population. You will often find more Indians than Americas. Indians have conquered Silicon Valley.
So, if you ask me: Indians ARE creating technology. The CEO of Microsoft (Satya Nadella), the co-founder of Sun Microsystems and one of the most successful VCs (Vinod Khosla) are Indian. Rajen Sheth, the founder of Google Apps, is Indian.
Yes, it is true that many of these individuals are Americans with Indian heritage. However, a large majority of them are also immigrants. I think it is meaningful, because I do not see this type of technological dominance with other ethnic groups.
Indians are also beginning to leverage their success abroad and are bringing it back to India. According to Jaideep Prabhu, a professor at Cambridge Judge Business School, “The term brain drain is misleading because really we are in an era of brain circulation.”
Prabhu argues that the Surprising Secret of India’s Success Could Be its Brain Drain. He studied 116 Indian companies, and found:
“Leaders who had studied and worked abroad had a competitive advantage. This international edge helped them expand rapidly in developed markets, despite a lack of experience peddling their products and services in the West.”
The data suggests that pharmaceutical company Ranbaxy Laboratories, software and outsourcing company Infosys, refining company Reliance Industries, the Mahindra Group and India’s largest conglomerate the Tata group, all benefited from having executives who had spent time studying or working overseas.
These companies were able to survive increased competition in their home market and then thrive even in the most-competitive developed markets because their chiefs had taken a crash course in global capitalism by honing their skills in the United States and elsewhere."
(For more: see the Surprising Secret of India’s Success Could Be its Brain Drain)
As the new generation graduating from IITs and IIMs, continue to innovate and work in India, we will see more and more technology and companies created in India. It's already beginning to happen.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) also has had a record of launching highly successful and technologically advanced missions.
Yet, it will not be easy, and the political task is enormous. Comparing India to Germany, Japan, and the United States is difficult. Germany has a population of around 80 Million, Japan around 130 Million, the US around 318 Million. And India has 1.25 Billion.
China has a larger population than India, and Singapore is a newer state. However, both of these countries are ruled by largely authoritarian governments.
India is not only highly populated, there is tremendous diversity in India. Indians speak different languages, come from different castes, and have different religions. And the country is a democracy.
If economic and political reform succeeds, and India is able to create an inclusive and pro-business environment, we will see India truly tap its technological and entrepreneurial potential.
Because most people in India are woefully stupid. Even the educated ones.
I see many answers talking about corruption, lack of infrastructure, etc. No one talks about the human capital.
I know that people all over the world praise Indians as being very intelligent. That perception has been created due to a very small percentage of people who do well abroad. They are the cream who got the opportunity to showcase their talents worldwide. But, take a look at the average Indian. The situation is deplorable.
He doesn't know his own history or geography for starters. If you ask him about the world in general, you will be banging your head on a wall. Most are pretentious and insecure. If you try to educate them about realities, they grow pigheaded and violent. This might be the situation in other countries, too. But, we have such a large population that the problem is magnified a million times. An industry body, NASSCOM, has stated that 75% of Indian engineers are unemployable. There goes the myth about Indian engineers out the door.
People all over the country vote on the basis of caste and creed and then, they complain about the government not doing enough. However, this doesn't change the fact that they do the same thing in the next elections and hope for the best. The endless cycle of whining continues.
The political parties also know that the people will never come out of their feudal mindset and opt for a meritocracy. So, they encourage caste politics as it is easier to answer questions on caste than actual issues.
Indians have a huge number of degrees without actually knowing anything about the subject. Go figure.
We have things like religious extremism, regionalism, Naxalism, etc. All these are started by some stupid people who manage to convince a larger majority of even stupider people to follow their lead. Eventually, all these become power grabbing movements. Still going on.
Recently, we had this cow protection fiasco. It's still going on. Less said the better.
Indians love money. Being poverty stricken for so long has made most everyone money minded. Even I am to some extent. But, here, money is the primary motivation. If janitors start earning seven or eight figures, the whole of India will rush to become janitors. Colleges for janitor training will open up. Coaching centers for getting into those colleges will open up. In short, a whole ecosystem will be spawned in the quest to make janitors.
The environment people grow up in is the biggest factor in corruption, I think. After being taught every step of the way that money is the be all and end all, hoarding becomes the only reasonable mindset. Besides, honest people are regularly shot for not taking bribes.
The people themselves are the biggest reason for the laggard that is India. Most are reactionary and have not an iota of reason.
Going anonymous for obvious reasons.
Sahashranshu Maurya, works at IIT Kharagpur AUV Team
One of the most impressive argument I have heard in favor of the question talks about the role of LANGUAGE in research.
A language is not just a medium of communication but a way of life.
Imagine 2 countries. India and US. India is far more populous than US and yet produces far less overall research output than, perhaps, many institutions in developed nations. Why?
A child born and brought up in an Indian town learns 5 hours of English (highly optimistic number) in classroom. His way of life is NOT defined by English. As a matter of fact he cannot connect to the culture described in the English textbooks because it’s altogether a superior ALIEN world for him (since we tend to emphasize on the importance of English and how it’s a necessity to sustain a better life). But deep down, that child feels more connected with his friends and family by his mother tongue which he uses for rest of his day. However, that feeling is suppressed with the inferiority complex he has developed over the years.
Comparatively, a child born in US enjoys the privilege of living and speaking English as his mother tongue and the world described in the textbooks is very much of his own. It’s his heritage and subconsciously, maybe, he is able to better connect with that world than the Indian child (who probably has difficulty in understanding that alien world concepts).
Most of the worldwide researches are conducted in ENGLISH. Imagine a mediocre child from a small town in India pursuing research versus a mediocre kid in US. Picking up a research article and reading it is a 3 way more difficult process for the Indian kid because,
1.He needs to use his “5 hours a day training” of English to understand the meaning of sentences, versus someone, with native tongue as English. In India, only 10% of the people are capable of that (125 million).
2.He now needs to understand the technical English concepts of the subject. An English speaker in the same field of study might have picked up a lot more technical concepts and remembers them over time, compared to his Indian counterpart because of the native tongue advantage. Compound this over several years of education. The number of people capable of understanding technical English in India are literally in Ashes.
3.And finally, overcoming the subconscious feeling of running away from something you don’t understand (alien world). Of course, it is harder for everyone to maintain consistency when they are on a new journey but it would be even harder for someone who don’t understand English expressions, to read technical English papers.
It is natural for people to have their approach practical when they are putting so much hard work into anything. Be it the case of research. It might not be driven by passion anymore. Compounded with the Indian practicalities of sustaining a life, job etc, the number of people from a common mediocre Indian suburb who break the barriers to research a WHOLE NEW TECHNOLOGY is literally one in infinite. People mostly pursue cliché areas of researches which have matured enough over the time (in top institutions around the world) so as to have higher success rate then to, try something new, put effort and fail altogether. This feeling “if they haven’t done it, how can we think of doing it?” stems from that culture of English superiority compounded with success rates in the past.
Most developed countries, other than English, such as China, Japan, Russia etc., give a great deal of importance to their native language. For a country like India with 22 different languages, 13 different scripts and 720 dialects, things are a little more interesting than usual.
Not only government but anyone would be willing to invest in something which shows results. For instance IT sector, where employees can gain expertise with experience and practice, research requires constant new learnings and creative thinking process. Role of language stays at the very core of learning, creativity, attitude and culture therefore, it influences everything in the background.
Originally Answered: Why does India lag behind Israel in technology?
Not enough investment (time, resources and money) by all parties concerned, apathy among those in power are just some of the reasons. The technology sector depends to a great extent on good quality technical research. This is lacking in India for very good reasons which I will discuss in brief. Below I talk about just one sector (Integrated Circuit Design sector) to show you the true extent of the problem.
I recently had this very interesting conversation with a university professor in the USA about research to production timelines. Let us look at an example to help us understand the problem. Take integrated circuits used in processors and memory devices. The scaling trend is that the technology node (size of each transistor in these circuits) halves every two years. And the particular technology node that is under research now will go into production 5 to 6 years from now.
Much of the top notch research in this area is heavily concentrated in the United States. So when it goes into production, the design and development jobs will stay in the United States. And the mind numbing, boring IT work is outsourced. So Indian Universities will invest even lesser in research on the future trends because the incentive to do so is very less in the long term because the good jobs (design and development) are anyway not coming to India. So to summarize:
Bad technical research in the past ---> No major work / jobs in the high technology sector coming to India ---> Therefore no investment for research on future trends in that sector ---> Pattern continues.
So you see, it is a vicious cycle that keeps us bogged down as far as the high technology industry is concerned. To put things in perspective, some of the best Electrical Engineering departments in India are stuck teaching the 600 micrometer technology node which was a 1995 or so standard! Most universities in the USA are already teaching the 32 nanometer or even better the 22 nanometer technology already! Now that is very bad and also tells us why we are so seriously lacking in attracting better investment in the technology sector.
Gaurav Sharma, Research Intern at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (2017-present)
India certainly lag behinds in technology and there are key reasons behind it, technology require resources, market, strong economy, political will, entrepreneurial spirit. We were not able to do that in past few centuries because of following two reasons:
1.Poor beginning of industrial era in India: The biggest factor, which is a true reason for not catching up is big, poor, uneducated, divided population, with extreme diversity. This is 100% true that during British Raj we lagged behind in education, healthcare, proper infrastructure. Low education and poverty catalyzed the prejudices, blind following, weak leadership, weak entrepreneurial spirit . As we all know health of economy depends on the population education, health, wellbeing. All these things were wiped out from Indian continent for about 200 years. Our literacy rates in early 90s were around 5–7%. At that time literary rate in Great Britain was 80%, USA was around 90%. Literacy Census India 1931: Literacy
2.Political corruption, bureaucracy, red tape: It is a real problem in India, and one of the big reason for slow economic growth rate. If we go back in time we will find that western countries used to have these problems. But at that time the world population, demand, and competition was minuscule. As demand kept on increasing, they kept changing and easing up the laws to boost production. They did not hurry up and grew organically. But its tricky with India because we had to catch up and learning curve is big. Economic reforms of 1991 was one example of slow learning curve.
Coming to the analyses of what happened with us:
We always blame the Britishers for our bad economy, and we should. Because you cannot revive an democratic economy without solving the social problems. Because in democracy the power is in the hand of citizens and if your citizens are rickety how can you build a robust growth. Government only work to help citizens to function well by providing them basic facilities, support, logistics to carryout their activities.
In our case only few people were educated and they saw a big nation full of resources and uneducated/underprivileged people who can work for them like slaves. This happened and nepotism became a culture in India, part of it we can still see in India. It became a habit of Indians and I don't blame Indians for that.
But the good news is that despite all these struggles we managed to educate out children, empower or females, removed taboo of cast from our society to an extent, revived entrepreneurial spirit in young Indians. Things are going down in right path and now we have the biggest population and eventually biggest economy. It would be a breeding ground for innovation, technology, science, medicine, arts.
We are preparing ourselves for 4th industrial revolution and on any cost we don't have to miss that bus. India will continue to have problems, but year by year we are getting rid of them. We will surely be the leaders in technology, which is evident from space technology. Not only space if we dig down we innovated much more in IT, technology, science, medicine. Patience is the key, we have big bright population, no one can replace us from being a future breeding ground of Innovation, we just need to keep growing GDP.