A Disciple Becomes the Guru: Should the United States Learn from India?

By Wadhwa, Vivek | Harvard International Review, Fall 2008 | Go to article overview

A Disciple Becomes the Guru: Should the United States Learn from India?


Wadhwa, Vivek, Harvard International Review


American businesses are increasingly moving their research and development operations to India and China. Debates rage in the United States about whether this will lead to greater prosperity or threaten this will lead to greater prosperity or threaten the country's global economic leadership. There are few facts in the debate, yet business and political leaders appear to be reaching consensus on how to respond to the rise of India and China: have more American children study math and science, and graduate more engineers and scientists.

This remedy's most common justification is the supposed statistic that China and India between them graduate twelve times the numbers of engineers the United States does. Business executives such as Microsoft chairman Bill Gates say that they have no choice but to move their research and development operations abroad because a deficient US education system has resulted in a severe shortfall of engineers.

The Global Engineering and Entrepreneurship project team at Duke University has been researching this topic. We found that the graduation statistics in common use were misleading, as they were based on faulty comparisons. Our interviews with the executives of technology and engineering companies engaged in outsourcing research and development (R&D) to India and China revealed that their primary motivation in moving operations abroad was not a shortage of engineers but rather lower cost and the proximity of growth markets. Furthermore, we found that there were serious issues with the quality of engineering education in China and India.

Yet India is racing ahead to become a global hub for advanced R&D in several industries. In trying to understand how India is achieving this feat, we learned that the India private sector has found a way to overcome deficiencies in its education system through innovative programs of workforce training and development. These have transformed workers with a weak educational foundation into R&D specialists. In response, then, the United States needs learn from India and upgrade its workforce.

Engineering education

Various articles in the popular media, speeches by policy makers, and reports to Congress have stated that the US graduates roughly 70,000 engineers annually, while China graduates 600,000 and are India 350,000. Even the National Academies and the US Department of Education have cited these numbers.

But no one has compared apples with apples. In China, the word "engineer" does not translate well into different dialects and has no standard definition. An "engineer could be a motor mechanic or a technician. Chinese graduation numbers included all degrees related to information technology and to specialized fields such as shipbuilding. They also included two-and three-year degrees, making them equivalent to US associate degrees. Nearly half of China's reported engineering degrees fell into this category. The Indian definition of "engineer" was equivalent to the US one, but included information-technology and computer-science degrees. When we counted on a more consistent basis, we found that in 2004, the United States and India each graduated approximately 140,000 engineers, and China graduated 360,000. Chinese graduation rates have, however, been increasing dramatically since 1999.

We found a similar trend in Masters and PhD degrees. In 2005, China graduated 63,514 Masters and 9427 PhDs in engineering, exceeding corresponding US numbers: 53,549 and 7,720, respectively. India's graduation numbers were unimpressive: 18,439 Masters and fewer than 1,000 PhDs in engineering. In fact, India wasn't graduating enough PhDs to meet the growing staff requirements of its universities. However, China's increasing numbers came at the cost of quality: enrollments are increasing at all but the top universities without corresponding increases in faculty and infrastructure. The growth in India's graduation rates was coming largely from private educational institutions, the quality of which varied significantly: some provided good-quality education while the majority, did not.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Disciple Becomes the Guru: Should the United States Learn from India?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.