Saturday, March 05, 2005

On why I shall leave

Indian taxpayers are certainly not a rich lot. It would seem a waste of taxpayers' money to educate an elite group of students (us IITians) only to see them take to the seas into the greener pastures of the US of A. It seems to be the poor nations subsidising the rich nations. Brain Drain: Misplaced magnanimity?

All the above notwithstanding, I would like to emphasize that I will still leave India to pursue doctoral studies abroad. I have many reasons for being vehement about this, and these I shall enumerate in this essay.

India is a happening place right now. Indian industry and services are doing incredibly well. Even PSUs are tightening up, salaries are going up, markets are at all time highs and Indian sportsmen are beginning to make a mark on the international arena (albeit quite faint, but you can't learn to run before you crawl!). It would be insane not be in India and not be a part of the gold rush. With projected GDP growth rates close to 6-7%, the sky seems to be the limit in India. But I still choose to leave India right now for doctoral studies.

Why do I want to pursue doctoral studies? It's not the money. I could earn more by working as a business analyst (a job which I have in hand now) and then working my way into an IIM - all right here in India. It is more a question of motivation. I have found myself substantially motivated in tackling tough technological problems faced in Thermal Engineering. Success in these has engendered a confidence within me - and this confidence has metamorphosized my motivation into a passion. I find myself passionate about research in heat transfer and energy now. I can't do heat transfer as a business analyst, much as I would try. Following my heart world mean either to join some MNC in India (such as GE) - or do a doctorate. The former, though materially more lucrative, does not strike a chord with me. My idea of research is much more romantic than developing proprietary solutions to outsourced problems. A doctorate it shall have to be.

But why not a doctorate in India? I've done my undergrad and grad in IIT Madras, an incredible place. But I don't want to do my doctorate here too! As an ambitious human being, I would want to do it in a better place. The only better place in India is IISc Bangalore. And it's easier to get into an American university than into IISc. The only constraint is that the university that I shall go to should have better research opportunities than in IIT. As per what I hear from most people here, the aforementioned is quike likely in most good US universities - since they are the hotbeds of research anywhere in the world - and get lots more funding and therefore attract more talent.

I've never been outside this country. My view of the world is therefore quite narrow. I believe undergoing a course abroad shall broaden my perspective - and shall give me ample opportunity to hobnob with the best in the field that I choose to work in. There's also this awe we Indians who have been resricted just to India have of researchers elsewehere in the globe. I believe a sojourn abroad shall rid me of such prejudices.

So, what after the PhD? Well, the long term plan for me, of course is to come back to India. With tremendous development expected to occur in India, anyone with even a drop of entreprenueral blood would be insane not to come back here. This we can already see, with FDIs and FIIs running towards us, their own countries having saturated long ago. I would want to come back and try my luck as a consultant here - either as a freelancer or in the academia. But that's a long way away. A PhD, a postodoc or a job away. [And of course, marriage-to-a -wonderful-girl away!]

I feel extremely excited now. When I come back, I am sure that I shall have the opportunity to deal with technological problems faced in India as opposed to outsourced problems from elsewhere in the world. Such opporunities are scant right now - but I am sure, that with greater emphasis on research by Internationally competent Indian corporates and with the awakening of one of the largest markets in the world - development akin to that of Germany and Japan in the latter half of last century is not unexpectable. And that means plenty of opportunities for one and all. Plently of wealth to be made.

I really hope that I shall be in a position to pay back the debt to the nation sometime later. As you can see - I really have but no other option but to go abroad if I have to be true to myself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice one Rap... keep 'em coming