Friday, April 07, 2006

Dream or Reality?

I don't know why, but I woke up this morning with one thought in my head.. I have no idea how it got in there. Maybe I had a dream or something and it just slipped in. For some strange reason, I woke up thinking about...

Brain drain

uite a familiar term for the Indians, isn't it? (I can already see a few people rolling their eyes). But I am serious. A few things that I never thought of before, struck me with full force. It became apparent that I wouldn't get any useful work done until I let out my thoughts, so here I am sitting a blogging, even though my exams are so near.

As a school kid, I felt very strongly about brain drain. I had even written a script for a play on this topic. I always wondered why the most talented people of this country left to work in other countries. What's wrong with our own???

Today, I am no longer a school kid. I am a university kid. And I am in Singapore. This doesn't really contribute to brain drain, does it? Considering that I am here just for my Bachelor's degree in Cell and Molecular Biology. Its just for education. Technically, I am not working here. But today, for the first time, I asked myself.... What are you going to do after you graduate? Where are you headed?

The answer is pretty simple. I want to graduate with honours, then I want to do my masters and then Ph.D. Preferably in another university in another country. I am currently studying in ONE of the best universities in the world. I would like to study in THE best university for my masters and doctorate. After that??? Post-doctorate of course. Where?? I dunno.. maybe in the USA, or any other country which is the best for the topic that I am majoring in. After that? Where will you work? Where are you going to settle down? In India?

I pause at that point... hesitant to go on

I think about it carefully. I want to study in the best universities so that I will get the best out of education and so that everything that I learn will later help me in my research. My dearest ambition is to do research on some disease like AIDS or cancer. Millions die suffering from these diseases. One of my favourite physics teachers at school succumbed to cancer. Will I be able to do high quality research on these diseases in my country? Without any administrative interference? Without any politics?

I pause again....

I come from a family of scientists. Most of my family members, save one or two, got into research. Including my parents. They are doing well. But the question is, are they doing as well as they would have liked to? My dad has told me about the cutting edge research he had done during his post doctorate in the US. And my mom also talks about what she did during her post-doctorate. It all sounds pretty exciting. Then they moved to India after I was born. And they have been pretty happy. My dad got into academics and became a professor, my mom worked in private industries. But recently, my mom quit her job. Reason? She wasn't too happy with all the interference from the top levels of the company. Research was no longer the simple pleasure it used to be. Too much politics, I guess. My dad is still a professor. But I know that his position has its limitations. Compared to many others I have seen, both of them are still in good positions. For example, my dad has published a book and my mom has learnt lots during the course of her stay in that company and is happy about that. I wouldn't mind being like them. But I also wouldn't mind being better. After all, isn't that every parent's dream?

I have realized that I am no longer confident that I will return to my country after I complete my Ph.D. Not as confident as I was when I wrote that play. I want to do pure basic research, with proper funding, facilities and enthusiasm from the top levels. Not administrative headaches and no politics, thank you very much. And I am not so sure if I will get that in my country.

Today, I understand why so many have left our country. Imagine, if you are an astrophysicist, where would you rather work? ISRO or NASA? Which institute will you choose to be a professor in? Harvard or IIT? Answer is obvious, isn't it? Everyone has a dream. And they will work towards trying to fulfill that dream, no matter where they have to go. The resaon why this dream is so precious to all of us, is probably because we don't really know if we will have another life, another chance after this one to make it come true. We just don't want to even think about leaving this dream unfulfilled. It is pretty understandable that we are hesitant to put out country's needs in front of our own.

I remember, the President of Indian once said that he had a dream of making India a developed nation by 2020. Can his dream come true unless we put in our efforts? His dream is meant to be an inspiration for us. Are we looking at it that way? Or are we going to just sit around waiting for 2020, then point a finger at him saying "Ah ha! its 2020 and we are still developing. You were wrong in your prediction! It was just an old fool's dream." *pauses to ponder*.....

Look back at our country, more than half a century ago, people fought for our country's freedom. They sacrificed their lives for the cause. Why did they have to do that? They wouldn't be around to enjoy the fruits of their sacrifice anyways. So why bother? They gave up their lives for the cause because they wanted their children and grandchildren to experience the freedom they never had. They didn't do it for themselves. They did it for the greater good...

At this point, a question comes to my mind... and I hope that you'll be able to answer it for me... or help me verify my own answers and theories...

Just the way so many people gave up their lives in the past to fight for the freedom of their country, is it possible for this generation to sacrifice certain dreams of theirs to make the nation a better place? Nobody is asking you to go to the border and sacrifice your life. Instead, your country is asking you for something more precious. It is asking you to sacrifice your dreams. Is it possible for the next two generations of Indians to sacrifice their dreams of the Nobel prize or any other prize that they could have won by doing high quality work in another country because their country couldn't afford to fund? Is it possible for us to sacrifice our future to make this country a developed nation? To make our kids and grand kids want to work in ISRO or in IIT? To give them a better place to live in and work in? So that they can realize their dreams and bring glory not just for themselves, but also for the nation at large? Is it worth it? Are these questions relevant in the modern day context?

After all, who knows the frustrations one has to face to come up in life in this country better than us? Who else will be able to provide the solutions? I ask again. Is it worth sacrificing your dream of living in a foreign country and earning loads of money just so that the future generations will not have to leave, and brain drain will become a thing existent only in history textbook?

My country, my pride.... in every espect you can think of.... Dream or Reality?


Clueless said...

Brilliant post! *applauds* :)

You've pointed out everything there is to be pointed out and asked the right questions, but are there any right answers? I've thought about this topic so many times myself, and everytime, I come off trying to justify my reasons for not wanting to work in India. I'm gonna be truthful and say I might just not be that sacrificing person who gives up better opportunities to work in India. Its horrid, I know. But we've all gotta face the truth sometime, right?

I really don't know what the right answer is to this problem. Infact, I'm wondering if there is indeed an answer. :/

OuTlaW said...

hey.. brilliant post and i have no clue too. just a few months back i was all confident that india it is. but now with all the politics happenin in the internal level. am not so sure.. i am hopin i am strong enough to live in india itself after studyin abroad. lets see!! clueless is right.. is ther even an answer to this?

mom said...

You know sometimes it is better not to be so serious about these things. Because life is always changing. Who knows where India will be in next 10 years? It has progressed a lot in the past few years. In fact US and the Western countries are afraid of India's and China's economical growth and at the same time eyeing for the market and to make use of the talent here. We have to be proud, that inspite of all the corruption we are doing so well. It is not the politicians who are helping the economic growth but ordinary people like us who dare to dream and work towards it. So let us not give up upon India. People make the country and if we are not proud of our country it will go to dogs. Where there is no corruption? It is there everywhere only at different levels.

About overall life in India, it is not at all bad. Though there is corruption it does not affect us in our day to day life. That does not mean that we have to put up with it, but it is so enormous that it is difficult to deal with it single handedly. In my opinion one can fight with it by being a part of the system (not like they show in the Hindi or Tamil movies), just by doing our duty truthfully wherever we are. Unless we do our part of the duty, the country will never change. Remember we are the country.

Now about giving up our dream. If you know what is your dream, go after it, does not matter whether you are in India or outside. One does not have to be in India to do things for the country. There are many Indians outside the country and trying to help in someway or other. Most of the economic development is taking place because they are the contact points for companies here to get business from outside. You can be outside the country and still help your country by doing your part, may be you could get funds to help some of the colleges who do not have good facilities. Come here and give lectures to the students and make them aware of world outside. You will know what to do when the time comes.

Grass is always greener on the other side. Do not think that life is going to be very rosy in the USA or other places. There are going to be problems, politics etc. It is human nature and it is the same every where. Moreover one has to put up with racial bias also although subtle.

So do not worry about giving up your dream for the country. You can live your dream and still do your duty for the country. Who knows after 10 years, by the time you complete your Ph D and post doc, India may be a very good place to do your research. So Cheer up and start working towards your dream

Anjaan said...

whoa! I thought Ur post was Mind Numbing, but then I read ur moms comment. Way to Go MOM!

harry said...

nice blog :D

Macho Girl said...

Thanks *takes a bow*! :D
There might be an answer that we r just not able to think of. for all u know its prolly staring at u right in the eye. *reflects deeply*

The decision is always gonna be tough isn't it? It sucks when u think u r sure of something, then u begin to have doubts in ur belief system.I also was 100% sure that i wud work in india when i wrote that skit. but now....

I guess u r the best person to advice me! U and dad had left the states and worked in India and u have told me u've had nothing much to complain abt. i guess thats what inspires me to even consider staying back. but we'll see wats to be done. As u said, its not necessary that u can serve India only when u r in India...

welcome to my blog! And yeah.. mom's advice was pretty inspiring

Thanks :D

Ankur said...

just came blog hopping,,,wanna say HI...

Macho Girl said...

Hi! Hope u enjoyed reading stuff from here!

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

hey mg,
that post struck a chord close to my heart. and i'm very close to facing these decisions myself. your mom's comment says it add to it, i also think that it may make things easier if you don't think of going to india necessarily as a sacrifice.
besides being at a stage of active growth right now, india offers you what no other country can- the feeling of being at home, amongst your people. (if that matters to you) it's not so much a sacrifice as it is a trade off for some comforts of life with some others. and good science can be done anywhere. i am not being overly idealistic when i say that. you will have to learn to work the system wherever you are, and every system comes with complications and red tape of varying degrees.
ok. that was long! can't help it, you really did hit on something i've been mulling over a lot.

Macho Girl said...

Never thought of it that way. U r right. It doesn't have to be thought of as sacrifice. I don't think we give India as much credit as it desrves. Our country deserves a chance. Thanks for sharing ur thoughts. it has cleared up lots of things for me :)