Lack of creativity in a land of great brains

India has the largest pool of technically qualified personnel on earth. We also have the largest number and the smartest software engineers in the known world.  We excel in mathematics about which even President Obama is envious. Indian origin youngsters in the US regularly win Spell Bee contests.

World famous software and technology companies such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Intel, HP, IBM, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and many others have large number of Indian engineers working for them. We are not only proud that Indian-Americans constitute 36 per cent of scientists at Nasa but also that 12 per cent of all scientists in USA are of Indian origin.

It seems that Indians are always at the top of the world when it comes to numbers. 

However it’s not a mean achievement that our scientists, engineers and technocrats are amongst the best in world. But what is disappointing is that our scientists haven’t discovered or invented something that has changed the world. Our software engineers haven’t invented an operating system to rival Bill Gates’s Windows. Our automobile industry hasn’t designed an internal combustion engine superior to that produced in Europe, US, Japan or South Korea. In fact, even now, most of our automobiles run on engines designed elsewhere.  Even though 800 million Indians use mobile phones we haven’t designed a premium product to match Steve Jobs’s iPhone or Samsung’s Galaxy S3.  Many examples can be given about our lack of creative enterprise that has made a global impact.

Touching lives

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have touched the lives of almost every human being on earth either directly or indirectly since 1980s. Their ideas and products have created enormous wealth in the world, and if one is to calculate this I am sure it will be an astronomical figure. Ever since the Industrial Revolution scientific discoveries and inventions from the west have changed, and continue to change the way human beings live and interact with one another. Woefully, our scientists, engineers, technologist, government aided research centres, and IITs have not come up with a single world changing idea or product so far. I am an engineer and am not sparing myself.

So the question is: Where does the problem lie?  Why is it that we lack the creative genius? Well, I will not be the first to point fingers at our education system. The difference between western education and that in our country is — ‘We in India have centres of learning, but in the west they are also centres of thinking’. Sheer memory power is used to score amazing grades, but most of our students have not fully grasped the fundamentals. Just about a year ago the cut-off marks for admission to an elite institution in Delhi was 100 per cent!   However, these hundred-presenters are yet to come-up with any new cutting edge ideas.

Steve Jobs went by the dictum: ‘Think Different’.  We have a number of elite schools. It’s here where children should be encouraged to think.  We sadly lack thought stimulating institutions such as museums, science centres and libraries that the west abounds; where young children get exposed to new technology, ideas and inventions. Young children visiting Epcot Centre or Smithsonian will certainly absorb lasting impressions in their minds; and years later it could result in some significant contribution given the right environment. Positive influences at home and school are necessary for young minds to be ‘ignited’ as our former President Dr Abdul Kalam very succinctly propounded. 

We now have several innovative tools to expose our young minds to modern technology.

Internet and Satellite TV can to an extent substitute lack of museums and science centres. If our brilliant young are given the right direction we can have a Nobel Prize winner or an innovative inventor within a decade.

Here we should emulate what South Korea is engaged in. They are obsessed with the idea of one of their scientists winning a Nobel Prize in physics, chemistry or medicine.

South Korean government has identified 100 bright scientists and is providing them with all the assistance to continue their research. They are as passionate of winning a Nobel Prize as they were of winning Olympic gold a few years ago.

South Koreans are confident that at least one amongst their 100 scientists will win the coveted Nobel in the near future. In fact they are already geared-up to honour their first Nobel Laureate in science. In their Central Research Institute they have a statue of a headless man on a pedestal.  As soon as one of their scientists wins the Nobel, a sculpture of his head will be crafted to complete the statue!  We need that level of passion.

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