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Can India Become A Knowledge Superpower? 568

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
krsmathews writes " New Scientist, in its latest issue, has a special report on India. It provocatively calls India the next knowledge superpower, though in a introductory story the caveats are laid out. It's a reasonably comprehensive look at India's high-tech research, pharma, bio-tech, space, and nuclear industries. The U.S. R&D expenditure is bigger than the next five countries put together, and India is nowhere in the picture. "
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Can India Become A Knowledge Superpower?

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  • India R&D (Score:4, Funny)

    by Fred_A (10934) <fred&fredshome,org> on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:19PM (#11729085) Homepage
    Hah ! I'm sure Indian researchers had personal history deletion patented *years* ago.
    • So the question is not if, but can it be a knowledge superpower again.

      Consider that over 3000 years,Inda was a cultural and scientific power house when Europe was still rolling around in its own shit. eg. Pythagoras theorem was proven in Inda before 1000BC - ovef 400 years **before** Pythagoras was even born.

  • off-shoring (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kloidster (817307) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:21PM (#11729095)
    What I've been saying all along. We are telling brain-power to stay over there in India, rather than come over here to the United States. I wonder what it would be like if people like Vinod Khosla were told to work over there and don't come here to innovate.
  • What about China? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mOoZik (698544) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:21PM (#11729097) Homepage
    It has everything going for it. Growing economy, a collection of research labs of U.S. and domestic companies, and a desire to pace with and outdo anything the West can throw at it. I'd put my money on China before I put it on India.

    • Re:What about China? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by aacool (700143) <moc.liamg2abmalnamaa> on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:27PM (#11729141) Journal
      Democracy and free markets seem to be better, in the long run, at fostering growth than totalitarian regimes, IMHO
      • by mOoZik (698544) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:35PM (#11729195) Homepage
        You are forgetting that China doesn't fit in the traditional Communist model, at least not economically. How many Communist governments have had economies growing at the pace that China is experiencing at this time? Maybe the Soviet Union in the first couple of decades, but clearly China is an exception, in that it mixes a Communist government with a quasi-capitalist economic system. And trends seem to indicate that China will increasingly become more democratic and capitalistic.

        • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:56PM (#11729318) Homepage Journal
          You are ignoring the fact that yeah, things are going great now, but what is going to happen when things start to go south? They cannot grow forever, and nobody knows how the system will work when things aren't so rosy. Also, if you look at Chinese history, you will see a dizzying cycle of amazing highs where China really is the "Middle Kingdom" and dominates the region, and then almost instantaneously crashes and looks only inward.
          Time will tell if this government is any different.
        • You are forgetting that China doesn't fit in the traditional Communist model, at least not economically.

          Because, as the Economist points out, they are only nominally communist. They're actually fascist- fairly free markets but centralized, authoritarian political control- although the Economist (looking at the glass as half full) says that's a good thing, since fascist countries can make a successful transition to a Western model. Spain made the transition for instance. As awful as it sounds, cracking

          • by Valar (167606) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @02:17PM (#11729423)
            "As awful as it sounds, cracking down on the students may have been necessary. Russia broke down the old system, but with nothing to replace it,..."

            I'm sure that is what the chinese government had in mind when they ordered the student revolts put down brutally.
          • Re:What about China? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @02:40PM (#11729592)
            Likewise, the American attempt to knock down Iraq has proven to be misguided, since they had no plan for what was going to follow it.

            Jebus! The results from the first relatively free Iraqi election only came in a few days ago. Let's give the process some time to work out before it's declared 'proven to be misguided'.

            It's OK for freedoms in China to be "slow in coming", but not in Iraq? Why?

          • by CodeBuster (516420) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @03:34PM (#11729872)
            As awful as it sounds, cracking down on the students may have been necessary.

            They machine gunned crowds of unarmed civilians and ran them over with tanks...Would you consider that to be a prudent and necessary step?
            • by kevinbr (689680) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @04:31PM (#11730187)
              Well we dropped cluster bombs and destroyed Fallujah and killed ( estimated by Lancet study) 100,000 Iraqis.

              This is slightly worse than Tianamen Square.

              Was this prudent? Different countries evolve at different paces. We in the US have a fine history of enslavement, genocide ( Indians ), child labor,dropping nuclear bombs on civilians, firebombing civlians etc etc etc.

              At the time it was felt nessasary to enslave Africans to lower labor costs. Prudent business practice?

              We are in no position ever to judge other nations.

              Our President only now speaks to invited supporters with no protesters allowed near. The police brutally beat and suppress dissent. Is this prudent?

              • Re:What about China? (Score:4, Informative)

                by asonthebadone (167531) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @07:02PM (#11731045)
                The Lancet study is bogus as it is based on flawed sampling of the data. To arrive at the figure of 100,000 Iraqi dead, Lancet simply *interviewed* 998 families in 33 communities. The resulting extrapolated death toll ranged from 8,000 to 194,000. Well done.

                Lancet Civilian Death Report Kills the Truth [techcentralstation.com]
              • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @07:09PM (#11731083)
                We in the US have a fine history of enslavement, genocide ( Indians ), child labor,dropping nuclear bombs on civilians, firebombing civlians etc etc etc.

                You have absolutely nothing on totalitarian regimes. They kill civilians by the tens of millions while pacifists cheer them on (well, politely ask them to stop).

                The police brutally beat and suppress dissent.

                So, are the cops knocking at your door right now, or you just spouting the usual rhetorical histrionics?
          • Re:What about China? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by AstroDrabb (534369) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @07:35PM (#11731214)
            Likewise, the American attempt to knock down Iraq has prove to be misguided, since they had no plan for what was going to follow it. Destroying the old order is easy. Building the new one is what's hard.
            What idiots modded this crap "Insightful"? It is not like the Iraqi invasion took place 20 years ago and Iraq is still struggling to rebuild. The "war" in Iraq isn't totally over yet, and yet, the nation of Iraq has had their first ever democratic elections! A huge percentage of the Iraqi people came out to vote, even under the threat of terrorist attacks on them if they voted. I personally consider that an incredible achievement. I would personally like to see you lead a nation that removes a horrid dictator, and in practically no time turn around and hold a democratic election for president/prime minister with such a huge turn out. The achievements in Iraq have been great IMO. Setting up a true democratic government is the most important thing right now. The next phase would be to educate the people on the new government. It will of course take years to get people used to a new way of life and freedom and it will be hard. However, freedom and democracy will win. It will be a long-haul for the U.S.A to make sure that democracy takes place in Iraq and to ensure that no radical group comes back to power.

            I have read many articles/post about how non-Americans couldn't understand how the majority of US citizens could vote for Bush. However, I now know why they did. The US citizens _knew_ from our own history that it does take resolve to make these long-term changes and make them last. Electing a very week candidate such as Kerry would have brought Iraq to its knees and had Iraq ruled by some other radical group in a matter of months or years. Building a nation and especially a world based on democracy sadly takes takes blood and years, yet the final outcome is alway worth the price.

            I served in the U.S.M.C. I am a Conservative Christian, yet I am a Libertarian. However, I really have been amazed at how things are turning out for the people of Iraq. After all, the main focus should be "The People". I really hope they do set up the first democracy in Iraq and take over their own nation. You many come down on democracy all you want. However, democracy is truly the most peaceful system around. Most nations that deal with one another in a democratic fashion will almost never resort to war, look at the U.S.A and most nations in Europe. If the world converted to democracy over-night it would not become perfect, but I doubt war would happen again. Under a democratic world, there really is no reason for war.

            • by kevinbr (689680) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:23PM (#11731469)
              And when will the good American people who were solid with Bush bring freedom to Sudan and Zimbabwe?

              You see in the macro position, your position makes no sense. Millions have died in the Sudan but there is no Oil. Zimbabwe has much death and repesssion but there is no Oil. Both were/are worse in terms of human suffering than Iraq was.

              The Sudan was not threatening to sell products in Euros ( not thet they have that much to sell). Your current living standard depends on the world using the Dollar as a reserve currency. Oil is denominated in Dollars. Iraq threatened the US not with Weapons but with ripping asunder the preeminent position where Saudis sell Oil in Dollars not Euros or Rubles.

              We are not in Iraq for Democracy. That is the fig leaf you choose to buy into.

              You rambling about democracy and war are that....ramblings. We as Americans have a fine history of using war to impose our desires on other nations.

              When it became clear that Ho Chi Mhin would win a democratic vote in Vietnam, we pulled out of supporting any vote and forced the division of the country and propped up a corrupt leader (Diem ) and called this abberation democracy. We then killed millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians to prop up our distortion of democracy.

              You need some new history books.

              India and China are using trade to defeat us. If we are threatened with economic defeat we will use military force.

      • by nickco3 (220146) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @03:39PM (#11729900)
        Democracy and free markets seem to be better, in the long run, at fostering growth than totalitarian regimes, IMHO

        Unfortunately, much as a I want to agree with you, there is no strong correlation between democracy and economic growth.

        For example, 40 out of 48 African nations have held multiparty elections since 1990. At election time, they mostly swap one corrupt bunch for a different one. There is little sign of any democracy-dividend there.

        At the other extreme, there are prosperous, sort-of-free-market, definately authoritarian places like Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. In Europe in the 1930s, the fascist countries delivered much more impressive growth than the democracies.

        The real drivers seem to be low levels of corruption and proper law enforcement. It isn't particularly related to how often people go to the polls.
      • India is not free country either. India is an ultra-conservative society where people are routinely coerced into arranged marriage, and gays are persecuted. Homosexuality is illegal, a crime punishable with live in prison. That's between 100 and 50 million oppressed gays, more repressed people than any other country in the word , other than China.

        None of the expected advantages of democracy can be expected on a country that represses sexual minorities; the intellectual vanguards can not flourish without se
        • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday February 20, 2005 @07:35PM (#11731211) Homepage

          The intellectual vanguards can not flourish without sexual liberation.

          You could have fooled me. India already has a Nobel laureate for literature (Tagore), and a world-famous controversial author with a fatwa against him (Rushie). Then there's Seth, Roy, and the great ancient grammarian Panini. It's amazing how many Indian authors I can call to mind when I can't name more than one or two from the sexually-liberated Netherlands. I don't think you can assert a correlation.

    • Re:What about China? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by kaalamaadan (639250) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:45PM (#11729255) Journal
      In the absence of any corrective measures, I am sure even India can be like China. It has been acquiring a steady 6-7% growth rate for the past 5 years. That may not sound impressive next to China, but it is impressive when you consider that it is the *consensus* growth rate - not the huge urban-rural divide that China touts as progress.

      As a case in point, In Andhra Pradesh [wikipedia.org], the previous Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu [wikipedia.org] transformed Hyderabad from nowhere to one of the centres of the tech glitz in India. Meanwhile, in the villages, Andhra farmers were in miserable condition - 3000 farmers [bbc.co.uk] committed suicide in the past four years. The farmers never forgave; Come election time, they did not forget to cast their vote. Out went Chandrababu. It was beautiful to see democracy triumph over J.P. Morgan. The same thing happened in the neigbouring Bangalore.

      There cannot be glitzy progress ignoring 75% of the people.

      Of course, this means that in the eyes of the financial analysts, India is not as lucrative as China. But, I am proud of the progress that my country is making. At least, we don't have to sweep unpleasant facts under the carpet.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 20, 2005 @02:42PM (#11729597)
        YS Rajasekhara Reddy (the new CM in power after Naidu was ousted) is no better. Ask anyone who is living in an AP village.

        He promised free electricity, free water, more rural funding (via loans and such), and so on. He delivered nothing. It was just two days ago that I spoke with a farmer from Ongole who was forced to move to a city into a life of manual labour. The suicides have not stopped, they have just been hushed up.

        Naidu did not discourage rural AP. He has, in fact, done more for them than any of the previous CMs. He has never ignored it.

        How is this relevant? Naidu's policies affected everyone in the state directly (positively) through a "trickle down" effect (as I have heard it called). This can be done at the national scale. All this requires is a bit of backing from the government in making the country more lucrative to investment, and encouraging education at all levels. Do not ever make the mistake of putting someone in power who claim they want the best for rural India. History has shown that they are lying. Oh wait, it's too late. We already voted the Congress into power.

        And BTW, it was during Naidu's tenure that my grandparents in Rajahmundry (small rural town near visakhapatnam) had access to the internet for the first time. I've stayed there for a while, so I'm not talking nonsense. Now all the place has is 8-hour-long blackouts and a severe water shortage (even though they have recorded the highest rainfall over the past few years this year)
      • Re:bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 20, 2005 @03:21PM (#11729800)
        I always hate writing out rebuttals to posts like the parent who talk like paper tigers "There cannot be glitzy progress ignoring 75% of the people". Tax rates are pretty high in India. Everything is taxed to kingdom come. But still the poor are just that, poor.
        India is going to go to hell unless they control their population.
        "At least, we don't have to sweep unpleasant facts under the carpet". Yes, for 50+ years now we having been wallowing in self-pity because we like to keep these facts in front of us. I cannot or should not make money because the person next to me is still poor. This is the attitude past govts have employed. Look where India is today.

        Did you know that if the Indian govt directly gave 2.2 $ to every Indian who was classified as living below the poverty line, India would have no poverty at all. India spends a 3+ $ on these programmes and yet the poor Indian probably does not see more than 5-10 cents of it.

        "In the absence of any corrective measures, I am sure even India can be like China. It has been acquiring a steady 6-7% growth rate for the past 5 years."

        Yes, India will be in 2020 what China is in 2010. Mark my words, 2008 olympics is in china, 2016 is in india.

        I haven't been to AP in a few years but what I do know is that Naidu did make Hyderabad liveable and attract a lot of companies. These companies create high paying jobs, meaning there is a trickle down effect in the economy.

        Would you rather have Naidu who courts companies or some populist leader who dances to the tunes of farmers for their votes?

        Being a former US resident, and a current bangalore resident, let me assure you that the bangalore(karnataka) govt went out only because of the drought. The previous govt was so much fucking better than the current dharam singh govt in place.

        If you read the newspaper, you will see that the current govt is fucking pathetic in all aspects.
        They have made bangalore a living hell with traffic mismanagement, no funds for infrastructure. All the chief minister does is give empty promises. His rural promises are also ring hollow.
        Think about it. Bangalore's industries provide 70 % of the state's revenue. Why will you want to mess with that and the govt has taken bangalore and its citizens for granted. Many software companies are expanding, but not in bangalore. In other cities and states.

        Read India Today" Dec 13 2004 issue "No Bang for the Buck" to know about blore. The current govt is going to pay for their lackadaisical attitude.

        Now let us talk about China. It has one govt(whatever your opinion is on the political issue, lets focus on the economic one).
        One govt means that it can focus on economic issues without political distractions. The chinese govt is putting a lot of its energies into building the infrastructure in China, be it power, communications, highways etc.

        Just compare that with India. Here politicians cannot end squabbling among themselves, economy is down on their list.
        Do you how many small cities in China are getting their own airports? How long is it taking to build the bangalore airport? See "indian bureaucracy is least friendly in asia" july, 04 in the deccan herald.

        Democracy is a beautiful thing. That is why see what Bihar is today. Democracy works when your population is under control, not out of control with 30 million births a year.

        Compare the infrastructure: in [cia.gov], cn [cia.gov]. For amusement, take a look at just one feature in Iran's factbook, ir [cia.gov]
        Compare the number of runways above 3000m that India has and the number that Iran has.
        That will give you an indication of how pathetic indian infrastructure is even when compared to a economy like Iran which has been under sanctions for 20+ years.

        At the current rate India is progressing, it w
    • Re:What about China? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sfjoe (470510) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:47PM (#11729266)
      I'd put my money on China before I put it on India.

      That remains to be seen. China's healthcare system is collapsing and, along with massive pollution, threatening to put a damper on much of the expected growth (this is Morgan-Stanley speaking, not me). China's problems reallly have no precedent so it's too soon to say whether they will be able to become anything more than a massive consumer.

      • Sure you are not talking about the U.S. concerning the health care system and pollution problems?
      • Re:What about China? (Score:5, Informative)

        by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @02:00PM (#11729340)
        Mod parent up. China is still largely a centrally managed economy on the macro level with policies set for political reasons, not based on sound principles. China has been stinting development of infrastructure so badly that there are problems expanding manufacturing due to power shortages. Lack of investment in capital has meant that China is actually losing manufacturing jobs faster than any other country on earth to more modernized nations because automation will always will out against manual labor once wages reach any reasonable level.

        With massive foreign loans and suicidally low currency valuations in order to stimulate exports China has backed itself into a trap where it must let currency valuations rise to pay off debt and raise capital for infrastructure investment, yet it cannot afford to let valuations rise because that will destroy it's export driven economy.

        Anyone who has really studied the current Chinese economy realizes that they are headed for a period of retrenchment, if not an out-and-out recession/depression in the not too distant future.

    • Explain?! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by adeydas (837049)
      Then perhaps you could explain why India is having an influx of brain-gain and why the US companies are outsourcing their R&D here instead of China?!
  • Some questions... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aendeuryu (844048) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:21PM (#11729099)
    The US R&D expenditure is bigger than the next five countries put together, and India is nowhere in the picture.

    Granted, that's impressive spending, but how much of this has to do with a higher overall cost of living in the US, and therefore, higher salaries for your workers? Also, how much of that spending is directly related to the military?

    Just wondering how much overall dollar output directly relates to one's place on the R&D totem pole.
    • Military spending often comes down to Earth in commercial ventures, so I don't really have a problem with that (BMDO spinoffs, etc.) But here's the kicker: prior to outsourcing and the "global economy", R&D investment generally went to benefit U.S. businesses and consumers. I don't really see that happening anymore. Sure ... money gets spent on research but foreign interests seem to be reaping the rewards.
    • And not just how the military factors, but also how the number is derived. Are US dollars expended on an outsourced project still counted as US dollars? I gotta believe that Indian corporations are only a tiny fraction of the revenue into those outsourced jobs. I RTFA but (typically) it didn't describe its sources, nor did I see that reference about the US R&D budget being bigger than the next 5.
  • by coKestar (859984) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:24PM (#11729120)
    No nation where cows do not fear Ronald McDonald cannot be trusted!
    • Re:Maybe...not. (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No nation that re-elects Bush can be trusted.
  • by lazzaro (29860) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:24PM (#11729121) Homepage
    The Indian diaspora, like the China diaspora, is already a knowledge superpower -- as a look at the nationalities of the IEEE Fellows, the US NAS and NAE, and the equivalent academies in other countries will attest. All we're discussing here is the current mailing address of the talent.
    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:44PM (#11729251)
      Talent knows no geographical boundaries. The key is that it is a diaspora, not an Indian or Chinese institution. For example, despite the vast talent pool in the Chinese population, no Chinese citizen has ever won a Nobel Prize, Those prizes have gone to members of the diaspora working in western institutions.

      Until India and China build institutions comparable to the best in the west they will never become true knowledge superpowers.
  • by sfjoe (470510) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:28PM (#11729150)
    The one area where the USA has excelled over the decades is in cooking up innovative ideas and turning them into profitable businesses. The basic model of education in the USA has been based in large part on creative thinking. As tax-cut mania takes over and US schools do less and less educating, we can expect to see other countries start catching up in the area of innovation. However, since most places, India included, prize rote memorization as the best way to educate, I can't see them ever turning out large numbers of innovators the way the US has.

    • The biggest flaw with your argument is that many Indians come to the United States for higher education.

      ESPECIALLY in graduate programs. I would say that around half the students in Rutgers' graduate electrical engineering program are Indian (and I don't mean of Indian descent.) Over 80% of the students in the program are Asian (Indian, Chinese, or Korean), and nearly all of them are foreign and not just of Asian descent.

      It says a lot of sad things about American attitudes towards education that almost
      • How many of them honestly desire a higher education versus how many just desire the status with being a PhD? To me, it seems like a status symbol more than anything else for a lot of the asian grad students at my school. Some of them aren't really even interested in the research, they just do what you tell them to in the hopes that they will get their PhD. It's the equivalent of a Mercedes where they come from.
      • It says a lot of sad things about American attitudes towards education that almost all of the graduate engineering students at a state-funded school are not only from out of state, but from out of the country.

        Well what do you expect. Look at slashdot. How many of you didn't go for a graduate degree (or even a bachelor's degree) in engineering? Yes, I know, you wanted to go right into the workforce so you could make your money, but when enough people do that you eventually end up with the system as it
    • by rsidd (6328) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:44PM (#11729252)
      However, since most places, India included, prize rote memorization as the best way to educate,

      Rubbish. While US school boards are still arguing about whether to teach evolution in schools, US school students are being creamed in science and math competitions worldwide. Where the US scores is in university education, especially at the graduate level. As you go up the educational ladder in the better universities in the US, the proportion of foreigners steadily increases, exceeding 50% in many departments at the postdoc and faculty level. People are still going to the US for graduate study and postdoctoral work (though even there, reportedly numbers from Asia have fallen over 25% in the last year or two). What's changed is they're not hanging on in the US after that: they're going back home.

      • US school students are being creamed in science and math competitions worldwide.

        THe US is punished in these tests by the diversity of it's population. If you compare the top 10% of US students vs. the rest of the world, the numbers are very different than a comparison of the average students. That top 10% of US students is absolutely competitive with the top 10% from any other country in the world.

        • And if you have ten statistics and only pick the favorable one you will never see or solve your problems.
          • And if you have ten statistics and only pick the favorable one you will never see or solve your problems.

            And conversely if you pick only the unfavorable statistics derived from a standardized test of questionable relevance you will chase problems that don't exist.

            Once the American citizen enters the work force it appears he is very well prepared indeed - his productivity is absolutely world class. Isn't that the most important measurement?

        • So you're saying that 90% of American students are below standards compared to other poorer countries?

          THe US is punished in these tests by the diversity of it's population.

          By 'diversity' you mean that some are clever and some are completely thick, whereas in other countries most of them are clever?
      • by mbkennel (97636) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @02:46PM (#11729614)
        I'm an academic researcher professionally.

        The facts are that the USA recruits students heavily internationally as well as faculty, to a degree that other major universities do not reciprocate.

        It is rather difficult, for instance, for a student from the USA to attend a major research university in Europe (much less Japan or China though the language problems are far more difficult).

        In faculty hiring, again the USA opens the pool to everybody, but nearly all other nations significantly favor their own (in Europe, it is usually pan-European favoritism).

        In the USA, the Universities get significantly more money from foreign students (they have to pay full tuition), and in addition, the foreign students are entirely dependent on staying in the good graces of their department and advisor in order to avoid being deported. Hence they are favored institutionally and professionally.

        The foreign students often get their own source of money from their own governments to study in the USA. There is far less of this available for US students to study abroad---at least for lengthy graduate technical education as opposed to one semester of "personal enrichment".

        However, the primary reasons the foreigners are going back is very simple: there are jobs for scientists overseas, and there are fewer and fewer here, most especially if you don't want to work on new ways to kill or spy on people.

        Lack of competitiveness in the USA is NOT in technical education, it is in technical employment!

        US students go for technical education precisely to the level the rewards are worth the very heavy costs.

        Beefing up primary and college science education only will generate only more disillusioned graduate students, not more US productivity.

        Industrial labs are sending jobs to India and deleting them in the US. Indian students don't need a work permit to work in India---they are citizens.
        • It is rather difficult, for instance, for a student from the USA to attend a major research university in Europe (much less Japan or China though the language problems are far more difficult).

          In many cases the language issue is the main barrier. In France, for example, one has to write one's dissertation in French, except at some EU-run places. But European universities have plenty of foreign students all the same, Indian universities have long had a large student population from Iran and some African co

    • The basic model of education in the USA has been based in large part on creative thinking.
      And what in the world do you base that on? Is this from your particular experience, or is there a study somewhere that shows that US schools teach creative thinking? I've never seen such an emphasis, so my anecdotal evidence cancels yours out. :)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I agree with you totally.

      We have a culture where anybody can innovate. Look at all the companies that started out in someone's garage. There is the idea that anyone can do anything, the idea that a kid from the worst ghetto might someday become the president. Other cultures don't have that idea. It's a precious idea. The greatness of our culture and economy are based on it.

      Having said the above, innovation requires certain conditions. People need enough economic surplus to be able to devote their ti
      • by pommiekiwifruit (570416) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @03:13PM (#11729748)
        There is the idea that anyone can do anything, the idea that a kid from the worst ghetto might someday become the president. Other cultures don't have that idea.

        No, other cultures just actually do it, rather than pretending that they do. I mean how many black presidents has the US had? How many women? How many working class? It's not like Poland or the UK or New Zealand or other countries where normal people can become president; you need to be a multi-millionaire to have a chance (since TV advertising is expensive).

    • The fact is the U.S. spends TOO much on education. As such students spend more time learning about "socio-political correctness" and less about mathematics and sciences. The past 40 years has seen more and more money diverted to the school system and less to military and other programs. Think about it. The reason more money doesn't work is simple. You take a mandated system like education, continually flood it with money, and the system gets fat and starts viewing the fundamentals as less important. The mo
    • Funny, I thought "tax-cuts" were just political hype, and that the USA (especially middle income) has never had a true tax-cut. They just shuffle the numbers around, but in the end, the USA government takes more money every year.

      Furthermore, I thought schools were about 95% funded by state and local taxes.

      Also, I thought schools were getting more money than ever. When has the $$ spent per student ever gone down?

      In fact, I thought that we continue to throw money at education, the USA just keeps falling fu
    • by northcat (827059) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @03:47PM (#11729931) Journal
      However, since most places, India included, prize rote memorization as the best way to educate, I can't see them ever turning out large numbers of innovators the way the US has.

      I live in India. I can't begin to describe how much I agree with this. Our education system turns us into machines. Computers. By "education system" i mean not only the official curriculum part of education, but also the way the teachers teach us, and how kids and parents approach learning (parents play a big role in the education, employment and general future of their children. rather too big.)Once we are taught something our minds become completely confined to whatever is taught to us. We can process the input given to us and give output very well. But we can't do anything beyond that. I'm struggling for words here... It's like education is like software development for us. We are computer programs, we are programmed to do certain things. We do that very well, but we can't do any thinking or innovation of our own. And if we have to do something new, another software module has to be added to our brains to handle this new task. If something needs to be done for which a module hasn't been developed yet and it can't be implemented using the logic of the computers that are our brains, then we fail, we can't do it. Softare development (the kind done by Indian offshoring companies) has now developed to a large extent. There already rules and methods on how to do it. These rules are taught to us and we can succefully use these rules and thus offshoring industry is blooming here. But things that require a lot of innovation haven't reached India yet. Sure R&D will reach India (it's already started) but only because the rules have started to develop. I suppose "true" innovation will never reach here, since you can't really make rules for 'innovation'.
  • And? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mindstormpt (728974) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:29PM (#11729152) Homepage
    The US R&D expenditure is bigger than the next five countries put together, and India is nowhere in the picture.
    Money != Brains.

    It does seem that Money = Arrogance though.
  • What about europe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shadez666 (736779)
    "The US R&D expenditure is bigger than the next five countries put together, and India is nowhere in the picture." If you consider Europe as a country like entity then i am not sure the U.S. are so superior.
    • by handy_vandal (606174) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @03:06PM (#11729709) Homepage Journal
      If you consider Europe as a country like entity then i am not sure the U.S. are so superior.

      Common Europe is a formidable economic powerhouse, comparable to the United States:
      "The euro area's GDP was only 60% the size of America's in 2001. If current exchange rates are sustained [circa December 2003], it swells to around 80%. If the economies of Britain, Sweden and Denmark are added to the euro area, the European Union now has a slightly larger economy than that of the United States."

      Source [economist.com]
      Further evidence of global economic conflict between Common Europe and the United States: Iraq switched from US dollars to the euro in 2000:
      "On November 6th of 2000 Iraq became the first country to receive all of its oil export payments in euros instead of American dollars. This switch was estimated to cost Iraq $270 million dollars, but Iraq had since actually come out on top due to the rise in the value of the euro, which was actually probably influenced by Iraq's decision to use the euro as its foreign exchange currency."

      Source [rationalrevolution.net]
      However, following the US invasion of Iraq,
      "the US ... installed its own authority to rule the country and as soon as Iraqi oil became available to sell on the world market, it was announced that payment would be in dollars only."

      Source [projectcensored.org]

      -kgj
  • India appears to be doing incredibly well under the American Model. It's developing new technologies and expanding its industry and developing nuclear missiles at a huge rate while much of its population still lives in third world conditions, like Detroit.

    I'm just wondering if gross inequality is a nessessary or sufficient condition for a country to undergo economic growth.
    • much of its population still lives in third world conditions, like Detroit.

      If you think Detroit is 3rd world, I suggest you visit Bangladesh.

      I'm just wondering if gross inequality is a nessessary or sufficient condition for a country to undergo economic growth.

      It seems clear that there has to be a reward for hard work and talent for a country to undergo economic growth. However that is only necessary, not sufficient.

  • by 1tsm3 (754925) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:39PM (#11729216)
    As long as the corporate funding for R&D in schools is as low as it is now in India, I don't think India (not Indians) will ever become a Knowledge superpower. I'm an Indian who is now in the U.S. It's just amazing on how many new things the undergrads in the US can work on when compared to how little the grads in India can work on. The difference is in extremes. Here in the U.S, even small univs undergrad team builds solar cars, in India, even the grads don't get enough money to work on something useful. Most of it is theory in India. Sad, but true. I wish corporates in India put enough money into R&D in Indian schools.

  • by freshfromthevat (135461) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:39PM (#11729220) Homepage
    In my experience (USA working with OEMs doing high tech products) the cost of doing business with Indian Engineers is too high. They have a long (45 day) import delay for prototype hardware. The engineers who hire with companies I'm familiar with stay for training and then jump jobs. The communications difficulties (time shifted from USA offices) and language/cultural difficulties (different holidays, different work culture) make doing business awkward and less efficient than working with rural Americans (for instance).

    Eventually Indian companies will run their own engineers and see some efficiencies that way. Then USA OEMs could see some serious competition. The only thing that would hold Indian OEMs back is internal costs of doing business, duties, taxes, crime, limitations on cooperation due to secrecy, government corruption, etc.. . Like here in the USA. The top dog world wide is going to be the country with the greatest efficiencies of doing business. Time will tell.
    • The inefficiencies you describe are a matter of perspective. Most industrial countries don't have a large time difference compared to India but almost all of them have it compared to the U.S.

      You are almost alone on your side of the World, not India.
  • I liked this one... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bogaboga (793279) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:46PM (#11729261)
    [...]The US R&D expenditure is bigger than the next five countries put together, and India is nowhere in the picture."

    This I should mention includes inflated costs and bribes for bureaucrats. The Russians do much more and produce very durable space and nuclear equipment for less than one-third of our cost as Americans. This same reasoning presumes that if an individual lives on less than a dollar a day, they must be very badly off. I visited Uganda where a meal costing 4 US dollars was more than enough for me for two days!

    Yes, India can and will be superpower whether we like it or not. It's not how much money one spends guys. The latest Russian aircraft costs less than half as much as our most advanced one, yet delivers more power and is even easily maintained. I wish our politicians get this into their heads.

    • by saigon_from_europe (741782) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @02:54PM (#11729645)
      The latest Russian aircraft costs less than half as much as our most advanced one, yet delivers more power and is even easily maintained.
      Most interesting devices that you can see from former USSR are devices made in 70s - early 80s. After that period, West run far further than Russians were able to follow.

      What is exciting in their design is simplicity, and maintainance. With lack of resources, their design had to be robust. You may laugh on Ladas, but Lada Niva, Russian SUV is a good car. Russian mechanical watches, optical devices were pretty robust.

      Their military equipment followed these rules, too (and I am officer in reserve). Unfortunately, it does not mean that their devices are efficient (as they always had a lot of cheap fuel - there is even a joke in Serbia told for someones who spends too much - "to spend like Russian vehicle"). It does not mean they are ecological - all their eqiupment has NiCd batteries, but NiCd batteries are best (exluding being highly toxic).

      Compare AK47 (ok, it is a bit old design - from '47 as its name says) with M4 (I had both of them in my hands). M4 is subtle, but AK is robust. It means that it can be mass-produced with inexpirienced technicians. M4 requires a lot of maintance, AK does not. Result - M4 is less heavy, which is good for its purpose, but most typical problem with AK can be solved using your boot or even hammer (ok, handle, not the head). Don't try that on M4.

      Unfortunately, I think that these two design patterns will tend toward each other, ot more precisely, that Russian model will follow Western one. Lack of some resources, with cheap other resources (in Russian case, metal and oil) gives inovative ideas. But now, when resources cost everywhere more or less the same, designs will everywhere be the same.

      I would still suggest, just as a part of education, every engeener to take one standardly built device with one comparable device developed while resources were expensive. Just like AK - M4 comparison. Or, for instance, study all devices made by soldiers on front lines, or ilegal devices designed by prisoners. There is a lot to learn.
  • by FiReaNGeL (312636) <fireang3l@ho[ ]il.com ['tma' in gap]> on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:46PM (#11729262) Homepage
    From what I'm seeing, it seems to me that India WANTS to be a knowledge superpower. Following the massive outsourcing of IT to their country, they are seeking for ways to do it again in other hot fields, such as bioinformatics, drug development, etc. As the poster suggested, I think they are spreading their resources too thin. Will they succeed? Only time will tell. But from what I'm seeing on most bioinformatics related boards, most young Indians wanting to get in the field are not enough informed; most of the time, they want to study in bioinformatics without knowing anything about it, just because they've been promised jobs (it's a hot topic, you know?). Most of them don't speak English fluently too, which doesn't help us informing them.

    Typical example taken from the Bioplanet [bioplanet.com] forum:

    "hi everybody,
    i did my b.sc. in biotechnology(with 78%) from India & presently doing PG diploma in bioinformatics, but i confuse what will better for me, shall i do m.sc.. But i want job,so please help me by sending information about biotechnology & good colleges for doing m.sc. in Biotechnology & finally give me your valuable suggestion. ................Thankyou."

    Tons of posts like this one on bioinformatics boards, daily. I hope this represent a minority and that most Indians are better informed. There's a difference between outsourced tech support, where what you answer to the client or whether you fix his problem doesn't really matter, and being a 'knowledge superpower'. Now don't get me wrong, I hope that they'll succeed; developing fields like bioinformatics (and R&D in general) can always use more brainpower, and I don't care where it'll come from. But R&D needs money too... and tons of it.

    It's a gamble India is taking with this. No guarantee of success, but at least they're trying, investing in the future.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:50PM (#11729285) Homepage Journal
    But how much of that US R&D expense is being spent in India, and how much of the produced knowledge will stay in India?
  • A growing kid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by argoff (142580) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:52PM (#11729299)
    I like to look at India like my precious daughter. She is growing 5 times faster than I am now, but she will likely not grow taller than I for quite awhile. The fundamental things holding back the USA are taxes, regulations, intellectual "property" restrictions, and just plain too much restrained freedom.

    Eventually India will reach these barriers too, and so will the rest of the world until someone finds out how to persue and implement the "next generation" of freedoms. So even though they might eventually outsize the US because of sheer population - they will probably not surpass it per/capita until the next frontier of freedom is reached. (it will probably be ocean based communities in international waters)

  • Four words (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Billobob (532161)
    The Indian Institute(s) of Technology.
  • India = CMM5 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hacked (838690)
    Most companies in India are certified CMM level 5 (the highest level) using the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) conceptual maturity model. Most companies in the US are certified CMM level 3. This says a lot.
    • Re:India = CMM5 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by KontinMonet (737319) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @02:12PM (#11729402) Homepage Journal
      It says absolutely nothing. The number of (useless) people I interviewed from CMM5 companies whilst I was based in India proved to me that their CMM certs were an illusory wallpapering solely to impress ignorant Western purchasers.
    • Yeah. It says the CMMI isn't all it's cracked up to be.

      No matter how much "process" you enforce, it will not make a madiocre programmer a good programmer or a good programmer a great programmer.

      I've seen this first hand. CMMI has a way of stifling a lot of creativity because you spend more time writing down everything than experiementing and finding new and innovative solutions.

      Don't get me wrong, some of the key practices are quite useful, even necessary for large projects. But a significant fraction of
  • Y'know we used to take pride in "Made In America" whether it be clothes or cars. Odd how we'd rather outsource to another country employing 1000s in the foreign country so a few (read: execs) in American can prosper.

    If the US is turning into more of a consumer based economy by importing more and less of a producer/exporter, then where does our income come from? What will these countries by from us besides food?

    -HockeyPuck-> .
  • by AnyLoveIsGoodLove (194208) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:56PM (#11729317)
    I took a trip to the south of India (Kerala, Banglore, and Channai (Madras). I spent a month and for the most parts avoided the tourist areas. My inlaws live far away from the nearest town in Kerala.

    discoslure:

    I'm a 31 year old white male whose worked in the computer industry since I graduated from college.

    A few General Observations:

    What India has going for them....

    1) I've never seen a country so utterly focused on education (remember I spent my time in the South). Education is the only way out for Indians. The pressure is unbelievable for young people to perform in school. Everywhere you go you see signs for schools / education

    2) English is spoken fluently among the college educated. English is the language of business in the south (in major cities, white collar type of work) b/c there are 19 "official" languages with an unbelievable number of dialects. Combine with the business process outsourcing (BPO), and you get a lot of focus around English language skills. I tried to learn the local dialect, but everyone wanted to practice English...

    3) India graduates over 1 M engineers a year. There schools are extremely competitive. Areas such as Kerala have a 100% literacy rate, this meets or exceeds any Western country...

    4) Motivation and drive. It's amazing what people will do to better themselves. This motivation and drive provides the foundation for the above. Spending a week in Bangalore was absolutely refreshing (and the food was great). To see all the young people full of life and excited was contagious... I can't wait to go back. I love seeing all the tech companies signs....

    5) Economics. The largest middle class in the World, in sheer numbers. In India, it takes 2,000 USD a year to achieve a middle class lifestyle, that's ~1,500 EUR and ~1200 UK sterling. This middle class will drive the world's manufacturers to provide low priced quality goods, and the whole world will benefit.

    6) Politics. Democracy works, although its not neccessarliy the kind the US imagines. A diverse group of cultures / languages get a long in a basic sense. Is it perfect no, but it gives me hope for places like Iraq.

    What Challenges are ahead for India

    1) Education: The focus on engineering has led to a culture that is not entrepreneur focused. It takes a diverse set of skills to move out of the BPO / Manufacturing mindset. Take Apple's IPOD. It took American design and a world wide supply chain to make this happen. The key is the design. That's what makes a product sell, manufacturing is important, but if you don't move up the chain, you will always have difficultly. Note to engineers: Get jobs that are customer facing and can't be outsourced...

    2) Gaps There are 100's of Millions still in dire poverty and extreme education. If the middle class and the rich get too far ahead of the rest of the country, I think there will be a lot of social unrest.

    3) Environment. India is a shit hole to put it nicely. If they don't clean up sooner rather than later, India will face a lot of health care cost for the population. Also, in Kerala, fresh water is an issue.

    It's the old problem of changing mindsets. The tech version is a company that sold hardware and now wants to sell software or services only. Its huge change and most fail.

    That's it I look forward to replies to others who have been to the south and I'm curious what your opinions are...

    I loved it and I can't wait to go back......

  • R&D expenditure (Score:2, Interesting)

    by l0b0 (803611)
    It could be very interesting to know how much is used for non-military R&D, and compare that to the rest of the world...
  • by xot (663131) <{fragiledeath} {at} {gmail.com}> on Sunday February 20, 2005 @02:22PM (#11729452) Journal
    Most of the bigger companies have research centers based in India.And HUGE onnes.Most of them are based inthe south, in or around Bangalore.Theres GE,IBM,HP,Microsoft etc..
    Not only does the American company benefit from these R&D centers due to the cheap & skilled labour(does research count as labour?) but so does India as it takes almost as much from the R & D as does USA.
  • The US R&D expenditure is bigger than the next five countries put together, and India is nowhere in the picture.


    Was there a special reason for the submitter to put that line in, since I actually RTFA and couldn't find it anywhere, or was it just his sense of nationalistic angst getting the better of him because some brown people are growing faster than whitey?

    That line kind of spoiled the article for me, because it brought me straight back to the reality of nationalist bullshit and the way it colour
  • You forget, for the cost of 1 researcher in USA, you can get about 10 of them in India or China...
    It doesn't matter if USA spends more, it'll never catch up.

    It doesn't really help that virtually all the grad students are from overseas too. Since USA doesn't let them stay really, guess where they're all heading?

    USA is like China several hundred years ago. It's losing the lead but is too blind to see it.
  • "The US R&D expenditure is bigger than the next five countries put together, and India is nowhere in the picture."

    Dollars spent on R&D per nation is a pretty misleading statistic. China and India have done a great job over the last decade of showing that they can do great R&D for a lot less money than the USA. The USA, on the other hand, has shown that when a bloated bureacray wraps everything in red tape and allows contractors to get away with numerous multi-billion-dollar failures without pe
  • Earlier and even now, all the smarties come to US and contribute to US advancement in technologies. These technologies were invented by Americans+Indians+Chinese+Minority and not just Americans alone. In order for US to become a superpower, it trapped all these smarties, made their life comfortable, relaxed visa regulations, gave them green cards, etc. Even now, there is a special quota, around 20,000, for US employers to hire International MS/PHD students only besides the normal 65,000 quota reserved.
  • Motivation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DelawareBoy (757170)
    Great. Maybe this will force American students to get off the couch and start learning things.. Or maybe not. Sputnik was a great impetus for learning science. Nine Eleven was one for learning Arabic.

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