If we can give Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella to the world, why we can't create Silicon Valley in India ?

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The Pioneer Reviews

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Silicon Valley this week the place which is renowned globally as  the hub of innovation, especially when it comes to information and communication technologies. Silicon Valley attracts all those who wish to explore the pragmatic manifestation of the knowledge economy.

We all know that young Indians have established their intellectual and technological prowess in the Silicon Valley and  there’s no doubt that Indian presence in these two fields have greatly enhanced the prestige and dignity of young educated Indians.

Silicon Valley is a highly competitive world of young persons from all over the world, who want to prove themselves and Indians have established themselves in the Valley quite effortlessly.

Indian technocrats not only hold  critical positions of decision-making in a large number of companies, but they own 16 per cent of ICT companies in the Valley. We need to explore, how talent flourishes in the alien land that values individual merit and opens up boundaries, so much that it contributes towards the national development.

Why Indians hang our their heads in shame when global rankings of universities are announced ? At least some of us do lament the state of art of our higher education institutions!

Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore was the brainchild of Swami Vivekananda and Jamsetji Tata

  • Swami Vivekananda said, “Every human soul is divine”. This is a universal statement, and certainly not a religious one. His words clearly indicate that there are no limits to learning and excelling. Traditionally, India’s premise on excellence has always asserted that human beings can rise to unfathomable levels in worldly knowledge and spirituality; and also in divinity.
  • Swami Vivekananda has never ignored the mundane side of life. He has given due weightage to contemporary advances in science and technology without any hesitation. And for that, one needs modern institutions. Given the right kind of leadership, these translate impractical ideas into pragmatic tools and thus helps achieve peace and progress.
  • The story of science in India is incomplete without Swami Vivekananda and Jamsetji Tata.It was Swami Vivekananda and the great visionary and innovator Jamsetji Tata who established an institution that led to the advancement science in India. One was a monk who impressed the West on Indian philosophy and religious traditions, the other was the father of Indian industry. Both of them were visionaries who were committed to the same cause — betterment and welfare of India and Indians.

Story behind the establishment of Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore

  • Swami Vivekananda remarked, “How wonderful it would be if we could combine the scientific and technological advances of the West with the asceticism and humanism of India.” Jamsetji Tata thought about the idea and wrote a letter to Swami Vivekananda on November 23, 1898. 
  • The Tata letter said, “It seems to me that no better use can be made of the ascetic spirit than the establishment of monasteries or residential halls for men dominated by this spirit, where they should live with ordinary decency and devote their lives to the cultivation of sciences — natural and humanistic. I am of the opinion that, if such a crusade in favour of an asceticism of this kind is undertaken by a competent leader, it would greatly help asceticism. Science, and the good name of our common country; and I know not who would make a more fitting general of such a campaign than Vivekananda. Do you think you would care to apply yourself to the mission of galvanizing in to life our ancient traditions in this respect?”
  • Swami Vivekananda could not accept the offer as he was pre-occupied, but he sent Sister Nivedita to meet Jamsetji Tata to develop the future plans. Swami Vivekananda passed away in 1902 and Jamsetji Tata died in 1904; but the seed that they had sown, sprung to life and the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore was born in 1909.
  • Subsequently, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Tata institute of Fundamental Research were established in the 1930’s and 1940’s respectively. Together, the two leaders paved way for the creation of leading institutions like the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the Indian Space Research Organisation, that have excelled in quality output, preparation of new leaders in their chosen areas and have shown the way to many others.

Can we dream of Silicon Valley in India ?

  • Is it not blissfully relevant premise that an idea that was given by Swami Vivekananda, which was then materialised by Jamsetji Tata, is the pivot of success for young Indian in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Silicon Valley? Are we not obliged to do much better? Why are we not ready to face the challenges?
  • With just 30 per cent to 35 per cent of the students getting education in India, it’s worth consideration that if this would have been around 85 per cent to 90 per cent, India would have made a greater impact globally.
  • In a situation that clearly indicates quality decline right from the schools to universities and even prestigious institutions of higher professional learning, talent nurturance gets relegated and everyone within the system gets busy with routine ‘management’. Where is the time to think — to think in a broader and long-term perspective?
  • In a situation that clearly indicates quality decline right from the schools to universities and even prestigious institutions of higher professional learning, talent nurturance gets relegated and everyone within the system gets busy with routine ‘management’. Where is the time to think — to think in a broader and long-term perspective?

What need to be done ?

  • One will not come across a single school, or an institution or even a single university that is not short of funds. Madan Mohan Malaviya had no resources to establish a college or a university, but what a wonderful institution he created. He knew India and the psyche of its people, who have always valued education and gyan. He could visualise what India needs to do in the field of science and technology and how it can be linked to scientific advancement. He was a true patriot, a true hindu, and a nationalist who strived for the religious unity and social amity throughout his life
  • A highly spiritual person, he envisioned the role of science and technology 100 years ago. He thought much ahead of others that India needed science and technology and also a compressive familiarity with its indigenous practices of knowledge quest. He opened an engineering college, a medical college and also the departments of astronomy and astrology. 
  • Foreign direct investment is necessary, but how do we relate India’s pursuit of scientific knowledge and spiritual understanding, needs a serious national discourse to ‘rehabilitate’ the existing institutions, identify and nurture the available talent, envision the national needs, and prepare for tomorrow

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