Every citizen of every country in the world aspires to carry an identity to be perceived by others in the world. The Japanese are perceived to be efficient due to some of the legendary accomplishments of Japanese companies & their processes. Koreans are perceived to be hard workers due to the extra mile they go into every job they do. Kenyans & Ethiopians are perceived to be great runners due to the achievements in marathons. Americans are perceived to be innovative due to the openness & entrepreneurial skills demonstrated by Americans.
Among all the countries, the case of India is interesting because what was once an economical & cultural superpower was hammered to oblivion in the past few centuries due to invasions & British rule during which the nation’s morale slipped into an all time low (or rather pushed down). India, which was the home to universities like Nalanda & Taxila and the epicenter of knowledge had become an illiterate, poor country by the turn of 20th century. India, which was immensely praised by travelers like Hsuan-tsang in 6th century, had ended up being perceived as a land of snake charmers by the time India got independence.
The world had perceived Indians as “dark natives” who were not even worthy to be trained for factory jobs. For example, here is an excerpt from the autobiography of Dr Verghese Kurien (Founder of Amul) in which he mentions about the humiliation he had to undergo during a meeting with the Director of an MNC (Nestle) who had thought that Indians would not be able to do a job even after training them for 5 years!!
The above mentioned incident was not just an one off case but almost every Indian entrepreneur who had dealt with such foreign counterparts would share similar humiliating experiences between 1950s & 1980s.
However, India was never short of talent but the policies of Govts framed after independence had driven most of the intellectuals to greener pasteurs like America & Europe (Brain drain).
The following article explains the reasons behind brain drain:
Although a lot can be written about the negatives of brain drain, one cannot deny that it actually showcased Indian talent at global scale. Intellectuals graduating out of top institutions from India went on to scale peak levels in American companies and several reports suggest that Indians dominate the technology industry of USA.
Entrepreneurs like Bill Gates have openly admitted that they prefer engineers from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) as they are found to be more talented than most of the other institutes in the world.
During the IT revolution in late 90s and 2000s, most of the technology jobs from the US were being outsourced to India because India (rather than China) had established itself as a capable country which could handle knowledge based jobs at lower costs. Over the next few years, hundreds of offshore centers were also being setup including Research & Development in India.
Apart from the outsourcing revolution due to which India is being recognized as an IT hub, the world is beginning to notice Indians as knowledgeable & capable as well. This is an identity which Indians would like to identify themselves with. Hence, whenever there is news about an Indian becoming a CEO of large American company (Satya Nadella recently became the CEO of Microsoft), there is jubilation in India because it is establishing the identity of Indians as knowledgeable & capable (Similar to how Japanese have established their identity for efficiency & Americans for innovation), and in the process, helping Indians gradually restore their confidence in themselves. That successful Indian might not be paying taxes to India and hence not contributing to development of India, nor would he be announcing special discounts to Indian customers, but his success would help the Indian psyche which is seeking ways to boost it’s morale and identity.
There is still a long way to go and many more milestones to be achieved. India has the potential to create it’s own Microsoft & Google. But in the meantime, whenever an Indian in some corner of the world achieves a major milestone, it reinforces the global identity as “Knowledgeable & capable” and thus calls for a celebration in India.