Thursday, October 6, 2011

Be Hungry,Be Foolish


I have often pondered why Indians lack that spirit of inventive ingenuity in engineering technology (NOT mathematics, fundamental sciences) .......the unprecedented, the avant-garde, the original !
Sure we have Vinod Dham, Arun Netravalli, Amar Bose and several more who are superlative achievers in their niche fields of technology, both in management and R& D, but nearly all of them actualized their potential and burgeoned while away from India. And NOT all fundamental technology!
I wondered aloud at 3 different occasions in the recent past and here are the reactions..............

A middle aged Electrical Engineer from BITS who exhibited potential during school years with several prizes for science & innovation and who now "markets" million dollar engineering solutions (not in India any longer) ...he blamed it on the dead weight of several years of subjugation by colonists (and others) which was a blow to our self esteem and a confidence buster. ..........the pity mode!

A 30 something graduate in automobile engineering from a premier REC down south, born into a family running a successful auto ancillary enterprise, who trained for 2 years in a car giant manufacturing facility in Europe, worked for some years in an Indian automobile company and now has ventured into setting up of a design services company branched all over India........................he almost verbally pummeled me (after several beers) for even suggesting that Indians lagged/lacked in modern technical accomplishment with arguments which were not too compelling via the rich history of scientific, mathematical, architectural achievement route ............the belligerent patriotism mode!

A bright spark ambitious engineer from IIT, hand picked by a global commercial aircraft manufacturer to intern in their US plant, who picked up a pilot license en route, and after a stint with another European manufacturer is currently on deputation in India with a commercial airline in their route planning, test flying et al division ........he sort of agreed with me, no justifications-no rationalization. My query about what percentage of the IIT alumni since its inception in the 60's had made successful/path breaking contributions in the field of technology was met with a sullen "no idea, check with the IIT website" which could be attributable to his turning 30 that very day :-) .............unapologetic yet NOT apathetic mode!

So I am yet ambivalent......perhaps there is a paucity of that gene of pugnacious innovatory enterprise or perhaps the climate of nurture/enquiry via education or opportunities is absent or perhaps as Sudhir Mishra pointed out in a TV program in another context ...we celebrate too soon (and for too little, we get complacent with small glories) or perhaps we need to prodigiously BE HUNGRY, BE FOOLISH as summed up in a simple yet brilliant speech by Steve Jobs at the Stanford commencement speech in 2005.
I leave you with this inspirational food for thought in 1 ,2 , 3 , 4 , 5 parts, delivered by Bill Gates at Harvard in 2007.


A. I. said...

We're a happier people somehow even in our miseries because we celebrate too soon and are happy with too little. This may or maynot be a good thing ofcourse..but philosophically speaking, isn't it dissatisfaction that is responsible for progress as well as frustration?

CAT said...

In the philosophical sense YES, it is great one has the ability to be content with LITTLE. Saves one a lot of heartache,heartburn!

But when the focus is achievement it is this very internal chaos which urges us ahead and is critical to progress be it in the tangible or the abstruse