Saturday, June 1, 2013

public static void culturalHeritage(Foolish args[]){ }

Sometimes I think scholars acquiring too much knowledge is also not good, like too much money in the hands of IPL stakeholders; they get carried away(In IPLs case, the money gets carried away as well). I just concluded reading a book on modern India and how we reached here etc by a very knowledgeable and well respected author. At one place he makes a remark which somewhat meant that Indians are good software developers today because of the “rich cultural heritage” of ours that made us good problem solvers. Now some of you might call it a joke, but I won't because then I will be disrespecting the jokers. To me, if this is true, Sillicon Valley would have been an Indus Valley in the past, and The Greeks would have shredded their R and be The Geeks by now. And as far as I know the ancient dwellers of California(coincidentally called Indians) built no cities, did no agriculture but lived like nomads and I’m yet to come across Greek equivalents of TCS or Infosys. But now that I’m stupid enough to question eminent historians, I’m obliged to give some answer on what I think makes us good software professionals, however absurd that argument may be.

But before I begin my alternative theory, I must ask one question, (primarily to myself) that “Since when are Indians GOOD software engineers, btw?”. We weren't’ at least till I left office last night. I mean we haven't conceived anything that is capable of replacing Unix, MS Windows, SAP,  Google or FaceBook as of last evening. Now your question to me would be "Moron, who do you think wrote all those code behind the said software products?", to which my answer would be that we generally don't give the credit of creating Taj Mahal to the masons who put the stones together but to Ahmad Lahauri(or whoever the chief architect was) and Shah Jahan. Ok, back to the topic - yet its a reality that there are more Indian software professionals than anybody else in the world, hence it still needs some explanation, unless you start an argument that “There are more Indian laborers in the Middle-East than anybody else, is that also due to the said rich heritage?”, in which case I will be forced to remind you not to bring in the poor when we are talking big time on rich cultural heritage and stuff. 

My reason number one for more Indians in the software world than anybody else - There are more Indians than anybody else; at least in the English speaking world. Now I don’t know the cultural heritage played a role in producing us in large numbers, but common sense tells me that it shouldn’t have. Those who know basic economics will know that supply and demand are two sides of the same double edged sword. Next, reason number two - I would give the credit not to the ancient scholars and gurus but your parents and my parents; the yesterday’s middle-class that included teachers, bank employees, small town merchants, government officials etc who insisted their children go to school, get English educated(and not Sanskrit and astrology as ancient scholars and their modern day scholarly avatars would recommend) , become engineers and ultimately get out of their head and stand on our own shoes(preferably a Nike or Adidas one). 

Now to my third reason - those knowing basic human behaviour will know the meaning of “bandwagon effect”. If somebody take a survey among software developers from India on how many of them turned to software development because their college senior / neighbour / friend / cousin who is now a ‘green card holder’ influenced them, I’m sure they will find that its a much bigger number than those who pursued it because they come from a rich cultural background. Now if this is not a good enough reason and if we still stick to the rich heritage reasoning, I would say then the rich heritage is also the reason why there are a large number of Marwari tradesmen from Rajastan in south India, and also why there is a large number of nursing professionals from central Travencore Christian community.

Now that three arguments is a good enough number to start a debate on a topic, I’ll stop there and let you make your conclusions on whether it was worth reading some random aahoo bitching against eminent historians with pathetic anecdotal evidences or continue to agree with the scholars that there is something called rich cultural heritage that makes us the best human beings that ever walked on this planet - mostly barefoot, as the rich cultural heritage hasn't been very successful in making footwear affordable to most of us; yet.

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