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warnings for Indians studying in America

Tuesday 18 October, 2011

Prasad Thotakora, President of the Telegu (the local dialect spoken in the part of India where I’m teaching) Association of North America & COO of ekNazar.com, was invited to GITAM, the school where I teach, to speak about “Education & social entrepreneurship-a comparison between India & the USA. He’s lived in the US for the past 25 years. When he polled the audience to find out who wanted to study in the US, many raised their hands, but he encouraged them to lower their expectations. After recognizing social entrepreneurship as organizations as ventures for social change which create social capital, he gave a bunch of examples of such people world-wide, starting with Warren Buffett & Bill Gates, followed by Florence Nightengale & Indians like Vinoba Bhave, Rippas Kapur of Child Rights, Jyotindra Nath of Youth United, Jay Vikas Sutavia of Bhookh.com & Madhu Pandit Dasa of Akohaya Patna.

He then quickly moved on to the topic of overseas education. The US issued 35K visas to Indian students last year, while the UK issued 25K, & Australia 15K, proportionately many more relative to student populations. Employability is only 25%, so the the value of this education is questionable. Indian students need to make sure they are applying to & attending accredited universities. The University of Northern Virginia has been a problematic example. Violence is a problem on some campuses & some students have been expelled & deported. Teaching Assistant positions are now more difficult to get in the US. He gave a couple of examples which illustrated how the US enforces the law regardless of who breaks the law, i.e. the Vice President was ticketed for driving with an expired license plate & senators need to go through security checks @ airports just like other citizens. Apparently politicians aren’t bothered by such things in India.  His suggestions were to get good guidance, don’t try to “beat the system,” & don’t try to win @ any cost.

Nasscom indicated that only 25% of Indian graduates were employable & that “finishing school” is required for the rest to be brought up to speed on communication skills, becoming professional & presentable, & working on teams.  Andhra Pradesh graduated 448K grads from 1920 undergraduate programs, 269K from 698 engineering programs, & 50K from 713 MBA programs, but quality has not been maintained.  Students lack analytical problem solving skills.  There is no quick fix-the solution requires hard work & application.  Building camaraderie instills confidence.  There is no need for some Indian students to go overseas to study.  There are centers of excellence right here in India.  He actually claimed that schools in India are on par with America’s Ive League, which was certainly pandering to the crowd.  If you do go to the US, go there for the right reasons.

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