Recently the academia of Delhi were all aflutter as Sunderajan Pichai, CEO, Google, was gracing the hallowed portals of Sri Ram College of Commerce. There was an interactive session with the ecstatic students of SRCC, who may have Pichai as a role model. Mind you, the undergrads of SRCC are not any down-abouts. The veritable crème-de-la-crème of India, the scorers of a perfect cent-per-cent grade, the future of the country.
In fact, during the interactive session, when asked about his class XII scores, Pichai conceded that they were not enough to get admission to SRCC. After obtaining a degree from IIT Kharagpur, Sunder Pichai went on to Stanford University for a M.S. in Material Sciences and Engineering and a rounding it off with an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Later he joined Google and the rest as they say is history. This phenomenon is getting quiet repetitive. That is, people of Indian origin bagging coveted positions in multinationals all around the world and especially the USA.
It started with Indira Nooyi at Pepsico; Satya Nadella, Microsoft; Rajeev Suri, Nokia Solutions & Networks. This list goes on. One observes a common thread for all of them. After securing a degree from India, they move on and study abroad before obtaining these prestigious jobs in foreign lands. We as Indians are immensely proud of our protégées and strive to follow in their footsteps. However it makes one wonder as to the reason why the degrees meted out by the Indian universities and institution are not sufficient to secure a high flying job? Don’t they prepare the students enough to tackle a responsible job in a multinational organisation? Or is it the perception of the students as well as the hiring companies, that a foreign degree is essential for success?
In his interaction at Delhi, Pichai had mentioned, – “I think the Indian education should allow a system of creativity, project-based, experiential learning. We should teach students to take risks and not penalize them,” he told the audience. This is so true. All those Conic sections’ formulae or Theories of Relativity are mindless if we do not have a clue as to what to make of them. Practical implementation is ever so crucial.
Then again is the risk taking factor. Students are absolutely not allowed to take risks. The fear of failure is so supreme that students feel compelled to end their life rather than be branded as someone who had not succeeded. Peers as well as the teachers do not make it easy for the laggards and stay- behinds. There are jeers and deprecating reprimands cruelly pointing out the deficiencies of the poor chap. There is a tendency amongst teachers to pick up an achiever for any new competition. It is the line of least resistance. The bright kid will excel without much prompting from the teacher.
It’s not that the parents and guardians cannot do a thing and just sit back and blame the system. The most crucial task of a parent is to observe her well, to assess accurately, without the rose tinted glasses, the child’s potential, weaknesses and strengths. There are, of course, other people who can help the parents in this analysis. After all, it takes a village to rear a child. After finding out the areas of excellence, the parents have to endeavour how best to make the most of it. The world is literally their oyster with opportunities galore. One only has to find avenues off the beaten track. Encourage the child to take up projects and assignments. The self-confidence gained out of executing a project flawlessly is priceless. Let the child bite more than she can chew. If she succeeds, nothing like it. A few failures down the road will be valuable lessons. Be there to pick the child and help her onto the saddle once again.
As Ranchoddas, “Rancho” Chanchad so eloquently said, “Run after excellence. Success will have no option but to follow you.”