Interview with Balkrishna Dubey about power failure in Silicon Valley, reverse colonialism and Bollywood

von Gudrun Töpfer (Kommentare: 0)


Welcome to Wechselblog - with whom do I have the pleasure and the honor today?

My name is Balkrishna Dubey, I am a sales director in a global IT company, a majority of whose employees are in India. I have been living in Germany for twelve years. Occasionally I would hear someone in my family drop keywords for which Germany is appreciated, e.g. technology, great cars, good quality. That gave the impetus to study the German language and then it was only logical that I come to Germany to work.

"reverse colonialism"

I would like to start putting all the stereotypes on the table, then we have that over with: India, Bollywood, IT industry - why has India become the IT location it is today?

There are several influencing factors: a young and knowledgeable population (60% of the people are under 30), the time shift (which leads to a extension of productive working time for foreign companies), favorable location conditions and English, as a country language.[1].

But things aren't just rocking in India itself – a lot of CEOs of international corporations are Indians. How come?

We call this "reverse colonialism”, winking an eye. My theory is that many Indian CEOs come from the middle class, where there are many problems in India. So from an early age they have learned to deal with scarce resources (e.g. constant power failures), chaos and conflicts in a complex world. It seems this makes them fit for action in a globalized world.

The Indian education system

Coming back to Indian youth: Only young and many is not enough. What progress has been made in the Indian education system in recent years?

With its more than 1.4 million state-approved schools, some 33,000 colleges and 659 universities, the Indian education system is now one of the largest in the world. The educational system is chronically underfunded due to the large number of students. Girls still have poorer prognoses with regard to school success and far too many children are dropping out after the first years of school without any sort of diploma.

The government is trying to tackle these problems: I find there has been a significant increase in literacy from approx. 18% (in 1951) to 73% in 2011. However, much still remains to be done. It is though not due to a lack of importance placed on education. Indian parents encourage their children to embrace academic professions, because education is seen as the only way to get ahead in life. This is true at least in those areas where children are not forced to work.

Many people are also involved in projects promoting children's education and there are many local initiatives and projects. For example, I support a project in my home town and finance the school material for 15 children. My mother - who unfortunately died - was a teacher and I have the feeling that I can do something good in her spirit.

While we're doing something concrete: I teach "International Educational Systems" at the University of Freiburg for secondary school teaching degrees. Would you come to my classroom and tell us all something about India?

Yes, of course. Would you also come to my school? I'm quite sure the children would be happy!

The trip is a little further and I don't like to fly…

Then you don't like to fly – fly anyway! But book a round-trip ticket - there have been cases in our history where the visitors have stayed longer than they planned :-)

Artificial intelligence and digitization

Ok, I'll overcome it! We'll report ... Back to topics at hand: What is currently happening in your environment on the subject of artificial intelligence?

As far as India is concerned I can proudly say that our Prime Minister has launched a program entitled "Digital India". The aim of the program is to prepare the entire society, including the economy, for the age of knowledge and digitization. AI is only a part of it, but it is also strongly driven by local companies - several thousand AI experts are currently being trained. India has already 3 million IT experts in all sorts of technologies, such as Big Data / Analytics, IoT, mobile technologies, Cloud, automation, machine learning, etc. That should prepare us well for anything that comes our way.

Wow – and here there are still quite a few areas where there is still no mobile internet (those who commute between Karlsruhe and Nuremberg by IC, know what I'm talking about ...). So has the race already been decided as to which nation will be at the top here?

No, but there's a lot going on as we speak and the cooperation on these issues, across borders as well, is likely to produce great results.

Now I'm surprised. What does India lack that would allow you to answer the last question with a solid YES!!...?

India has now gathered quite an impressive amount of technology know-how. Implementing the technical side does not pose a big problem for us. What we lack is the experience to "marry" technology with business and make it a great, working whole. Other countries have much older, more sophisticated branches and economic sectors, where Indian still lacks quite a bit for example in production and above all in the middle class.

"typical Germany" and Bollywood

The strong middle class is "typical Germany". While we're at it: What have you learned to appreciate in Germany?

It might sound somewhat oiled, but: discipline, appreciation of the laws and a positive attitude towards work. In India, there is less appreciation for skilled manual jobs, such as crafting a table. Thus the pursuit of the academy existence takes its revenges. Compared to Germany there is also less respect for the arts, music, sports (yes, except cricket), theater and acting …

Wait! You realize I have to ask a Bollywood question now.

Yeah, that´s what I thought ... out with it!

Ok, here it comes: What's it all about? What's the point, what is the quintessence of these films? I don't get it...

I have a question for you: What's with the Rosamunde-Pilcher films? There's not even any singing!

I'd say they´re about dealing with manageable family issues, accompanied by a lot of drama and a truckload of feelings - simply a justification to dig into the box of chocolates.

Bollywood has that, too. But, of course, with singing, otherwise there's no entertainment. I also have a lot of people in my family who just talk. That's not something I'd watch a movie for :-)

But in truth Bollywood, and our national sport cricket, play important roles: they are both things that connect our very heterogeneous and complex society. The new generation of Bollywood films is, by the way, quite critical of the social reality: more topics such as drugs, self-fashion, corruption in politics, the way we treat women, human rights issues and many more are depicted.

What is typical German for you, and what do you miss when you spend some time at "home" in India?

For me, typical German are Christmas markets, pretzels or even the incredible variety of pastries. The respect for the environment and the public appreciation of it (fresh air!), cleanliness, the separation of garbage.

When I am in India, I miss the German beer. There is Indian beer, but there is so much variety in Germany.

Let´s have a Tannenzäpfle Beer. Bottoms up! And thank you very much.

Thank you.


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