Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cameron, Go Back

So British Prime Minister David Cameron is, per 10 Downing Street's website, "leading British trade delegation to India." One of his stops on this trip to India was Jallianwalla Bagh. 

<History lesson alert: Jallianwalla Bagh is the site of the bloody massacre (in 1919) of unarmed civilians who had gathered at this public park for a peaceful protest meeting - it is located in the city of Amritsar in the Indian state of Punjab. They were gunned down on orders of Brig. Gen. Reginald Dyer of British Indian Army. This event is considered one of the watershed moments in India's freedom struggle. This particular incident galvanized the movement for Indian's independence, especially the restive youth, like no other.>

I don't quite understand the rationale behind this token visit by him to one of the sites that epitomizes British atrocities while India was still a colony. Okay, so you want to pay your respects and lay the wreath at the memorial. But, why now? Why during this visit of the trade delegation? Moreover, what is the deal with the non-apology apology Mr. Prime Minister? 

It seems quite apparent that Prime Minister Cameron is, to quote an Indian newspaper, " ... wooing around 1.5 million British voters of Indian origin ahead of the 2015 election in his country." Does he think people of Indian origin who are residing in the UK are that stupid? The people of Indian origin that he is trying to woo are no more Indian than Chicken Tikka Masala is. They may be of Indian origin, but they have chosen to make the UK their home. The domestic policies that the government of the day in the UK chooses to implement affect them, don't they? So why this charade Mr. Cameron?

Mr. Cameron noted the following (text reproduced as is from the picture released on 10 Downing Street's website) in the visitor's book at Jallianwalla Bagh: "This was a deeply shameful act in British history-one that Winston Churchill rightly described at that time as monstrous. We must never [emphasis his] forget what happened here. And in remembering we must ensure that the United Kingdom stands up for the right of peaceful protest around the world." Mr. Cameron's remark is only slightly less pitiful than his handwriting. 

We are glad you visited. As glad as we can be. But, please don't desecrate the place and our sentiments that go with it, with your small minded attempt at procuring a few more votes from the people of Indian origin during next election back in the UK. 

Mr. Cameron, Go Back.

Friday, February 15, 2013

We invented the zero. That is why we will be the greatest country in the world.

We invented the zero. May be that is why we are the back office of the world - every time someone dials a '0' to talk to a customer service representative instead of having to listen to the voice menu, they end up talking to someone from India. 

We gave the world the concept of 'non-violence' - Ahimsa. May be that is why we are hoarding weapons like a six year old would colored pencils. We may not ever use them, but we would sure like to have a few.

We taught the world the art of love-making - the Kamasutra. May be that is why we have one of the largest and one of the fastest growing populations in the world.

We gave the world the very manual of political science - the Arthashastra. May be that is why our politicians keep quibbling over ginned up issues.

We invented the free email - Hotmail after all was an Indian's brain-child. May be that is why the bulk of the spam in the world originates from India.

We were the Golden Sparrow - the richest country in the world. May be that is why we are having a hard time getting almost one third of our population out of poverty.

We invented the zero. The very concept of nothing. May be that is why we will be the greatest country in the world.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

'My dear brain, please learn how to turn the f*** off when asked' a.k.a US Immigration Reform, STEM students, Impact on India and the US

Aah mann. I can't wait for the day when we will have created a switch to turn our brain off at night and go to sleep right away. It is so damn difficult to not-think.

Another recent post on an online forum. Another comment (misinformed IMHO) from a reader. Another analysis fomented in my head. Another sleepless night. The story of my frigging life ... my night life, or of lack thereof ... aaaaah ... whatTFever.

Here is what happened: I follow an online forum dedicated to international students in the US. While its an open forum, the target audience is students from India. A recent post on the forum was about the hullabaloo over immigration reform that may soon happen in the US. Some changes that are being proposed are bound to have an impact on the futures of students who get their advanced degrees i.e. MS, ME, PhD etc in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) related fields in the US. Some legislators and even President Obama have suggested that those students who get higher education in the US should be given 'Green Cards' right away!

One of the readers made a comment with a back of the envelope analysis that did not quite agree with me. I decided to explore a little bit ... the key phrase here being 'a little bit'. Before I go any further - here is a free piece of advice - don't push your kids into STEM related fields. The ability that they will gain to critically analyze shit will mess up their head. Like it has mine. Okay? Okay. So, I did my own back of the envelope calculation and found something drastically (again, IMO) different than what that reader had concluded.

My reply to that comment was getting pretty long, so I decided to post it here. You can read the original article and the reader comment that kept me awake here. Below is what I wanted to say to that commentor - is that even a word? Anyway. You get the point. Read on ... the product of my damn brain that won't frigging turn off when its asked to - this piece of sh ... ... slimy goo - with its two wrinkly lobes and two matters and weird sounding nucleii.

# Spoiler Alert - I really do make a good point at the very end!

"Interesting analysis. I agree with you that US shall benefit from retaining those that acquire advanced degrees in STEM and related fields of study. But, I think you overestimate the extent of that benefit.

I don't quite understand how you went from the figure of $2 Billion to $1 Trillion. What makes you say that " ... the impact is about 10 to 100 fold per person". Moreover, if the "benefit" from such changes to immigration policy were to amount to $1 Trillion over next 10 to 20 years, it wouldn't have been so hard for the US to cut its deficits and balance its budget. Now would it?

There will definitely be a considerable contribution made to US economy by the STEM graduates that will get to stay back in the US. Using your figure of $100K/year for 100,000 STEM graduates, lets do the math again, only slightly differently. For the sake of the argument lets assume that all the money that a STEM graduate shall make during a year will stay in the US i.e. it will stay in circulation in the US economy in one way or the other. That means in one year that will contribute 'at least' (you'll see why I've used this phrase here, later on) $10 Billion. The size of the US economy is roughly $16 Billion, give or take a few hundred billions. That makes the contribution of STEM graduates barely 1/16th of 0.01% to the GDP. This is not a small number - we are talking about tens of billions here, but in the bigger scheme of things ... .

I am inclined to agree that " ... the impact ... per person" will be high. For STEM graduates will invariably end up contributing to the economy by way of entrepreneurship and innovations in academia as well as industry i.e. more patents, more high-technology businesses, more people get jobs, etcetera. But that still may not amount to 10 fold benefit that the US will end up deriving per person, let alone 100. However, I do hope to hear from you how you go about calculating the impact per person.

Now, lets get to the next paragraph where you discuss the adverse impact of this "brain drain" on India and its economy.

The figure of $500 million that you calculate for the amount of immediate loss to Indian exchequer is completely misplaced. If those 25% of the STEM pool students were to come back to India, in all likelihood, their paycheques will not nearly be in concert with what they would make if they were in the US. According to IMF, implied PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) rate of conversion of India in 2015 will be ~19% i.e. INR 100 will possibly buy you say amount of shit in India that $19 in the US. So, per your numbers, factoring in the implied PPP, India is set to lose <$30 million.

It is not the direct loss of revenue that is the sad part for India. What is sad is that our government back home in India refuses to recognize that we are raising and teaching kids to adulthood - everything at our expense mind you - and then sending them to the west so they can contribute to those economies. The funny bit is yet to come. Most international graduate students of Indian origin raise loans back home in India to come over to the US - and that money goes to the US too in the form of tuition/fees. How twisted is that? It is as if it is not just a "brain drain", but a dedicated pipeline of top notch human resource and monetary wealth from India's treasure chest to US's coffers. And here I thought the British had left 70 years ago and now our destiny was in our own hands. It is more like: the British were fucking the Golden Sparrow earlier and now it is the Americans. If we think through the sops that India has to provide to US as part of various trade deals, and yes, that includes the Indo-US nuclear deal too - not only are they fucking the good old Golden Sparrow, but beheading it and then barbecuing it and eating it. Actually, now that I think about it, it is more like a gang rape and a gang-bangers' barbecue, for other western countries want a piece of the pie too. Virtues of globalization I guess. And our politicians don't have time to sit their asses down in the parliament - those two timing rat bastards.

We have to wise up, and soon."