Saturday, December 27, 2014

The globalizing Indians

A few years ago, I authored an oped in which I noted that Indians integrate well into the American way of life, thanks to India's long and rich history of global interactions.  Later, in another op-ed, I pointed to Sri Srinivasan's nomination to the DC Court of Appeals and the unanimous Senate confirmation as further evidence of this integration.

Despite all that, I was shocked--pleasantly, of course--to read that:
Indians, especially in the UK and US, are prevalent in business, academe, the media, medicine and the arts. In 2008, Indians accounted for 38% of doctors in the US, 36% of scientists at NASA, and 34% of employees at Microsoft, 28% at IBM and 17% at Intel.
More than a third of the doctors in the US?
More than a third of NASA's scientists?
More than a third of Microsoft employees?
WTF is the only way to respond to it ;)

Indians integrating well into the economic and social fabric of alien lands is not really new.  In the modern world, India is India, and therefore we refer to Indians, thanks to those who led the struggle for independence from the British Raj, of whom Gandhi was most influential.

Gandhi was a global migrant himself during his years in South Africa, before he returned to India for good a hundred years ago.  If Gandhi hadn't had that experience, history would certainly have been different from how it unfolded.
After one year of a none too successful law practice, Gandhi decided to accept an offer from an Indian businessman in South Africa, Dada Abdulla, to join him as a legal adviser. Unbeknown to him, this was to become an exceedingly lengthy stay, and altogether Gandhi was to stay in South Africa for over twenty years. The Indians who had been living in South Africa were without political rights, and were generally known by the derogatory name of 'coolies'. Gandhi himself came to an awareness of the frightening force and fury of European racism, and how far Indians were from being considered full human beings, when he when thrown out of a first-class railway compartment car, though he held a first-class ticket, at Pietermaritzburg. From this political awakening Gandhi was to emerge as the leader of the Indian community
To stay back in one's own community is the easy thing to do.  But, to venture out requires guts.  To have accomplished what he did, especially in an entirely different country thousands of miles away from where he grew up, Gandhi had guts that we lesser mortals cannot even dream of.  We need to dismiss Gandhi as off-the-charts so that we don't get discouraged comparing our pedestrian existence to his life ;)

Despite the long history of the wandering Indians, it appears that there are a few countries without people of Indian origin.  Perhaps before this century ends, there will be no such country in the listing, eh!

For all we know, the day is not far away when an Indian-American might even be elected as the president of the US of A!  Looking forward to it all.


Ramesh said...

Add to your list the number of Indian Americans as Professors in universities. That would also be a reasonable percentage I would suspect, although not in the 20s.

You should take a bow too for the gutsy making of a successful life thousands of miles away.

Sriram Khé said...

Oddly enough, when Indians head to the US--back then and now--it seems like very few of them think of the teaching profession. Turns out that for all the big talk about a rich and old culture of intellectualism, Indians are simply not into it, whatever be the field of inquiry--which is why there are those phenomenal percentages in a Microsoft or NASA, but not a whole lot in higher education.
I suspect that teaching is way less appreciated in India--even less than in the US.

BTW, you have not been parochial yourself, with a multinational career ... you made a gutsy call to return to India ;)

Shachi said...

True that! I have more Indian colleagues/neighbors than American :)!

I have thoroughly enjoyed my 15 years here....looking forward to more!

Sriram Khé said...

Cool ... wish you more of the happiness ...
Hey, really, even the neighborhood is saturated with people of Indian origin? really? After a while, I wonder if one can get confused: am I in India or in the US? hehehe ;)

Sriram Khé said...

Cool ... wish you more of the happiness ...
Hey, really, even the neighborhood is saturated with people of Indian origin? really? After a while, I wonder if one can get confused: am I in India or in the US? hehehe ;)