India’s Competitive Edge, Not!

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

We are constantly told that America needs to import its engineers from abroad—specifically China and India—in order to make up for a perceived talent deficit in the United States.

As with most nuggets of current wisdom, this bromide loses some of its zing on closer examination. Pooja Bhatt, portfolio manager from Accenture specifically working with development initiatives, shared some disturbing Indian education statistics at a Brookings Institution conference.

Out of the 500,000 engineers who graduate per year from India, only 2.6% are employable and over 50% don’t have skills to succeed.  Moreover, About 80% of Indian students have not mastered the basics of reading or mathematics, Ashish Dhawan, CEO for the Central Square Foundation, said in remarks made at that same symposium.

One wonders if the other 20 percent are in schools such as the ones managed by Baishali Bomjan and her mentors at the CCS Academy.

Finally, while one of the ostensible goals of the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top program is to make the U. S. more competitive internationally, another speaker at the panel discussion expressed skepticism about it as a model for India. Subir Gokarn, Brookings India research director, said that Race to the Top-like programs are dangerous for India.

Gokarn is wary of Race to the Top’s “one size fits all” approach that fails to take into account demographics, caste systems and gender inequality. It will result in significant trial and error, and he asked whether it would be viable for Indian education to undertake this type of plan.


Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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