Brain Drain | Indian CEOs of American Companies

Hello, friends! Some days ago, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey said that he’s resigning from his position. And the new CEO of Twitter will be Parag Agarwal. An Indian-American. Born in Ajmer, Rajasthan. He completed his education at IIT-Bombay. It’s an interesting case because it can be looked at from 2 perspectives. On one hand, people say that it is something to feel proud about that Indians are so successful in foreign countries. They’re making India proud. But on the other hand, some people term it as Brain Drain.

Memes are shared with “Indians study, for America to prosper.” People blame things for caste reservations for this Brain Drain. What’s the truth? How should we look at this? Come, in today’s video, let’s try to understand it. “We’ve been hearing about Brain Drain for a long time.” “37-year-old Parag Agarwal is the CEO of Twitter.” “The opportunities abroad are much better and much more advanced than here. And you have a chance to get better livelihood abroad.” “This Brain Drain could turn into Brain Gain, had anyone thought about that?” An Indian origin person becoming the CEO of a big American company, has so many examples, friends that you’d be surprised. After 2014, Satya Nadela became the CEO of Microsoft.

Since 2015, Sundar Pichai has been the CEO of Alphabet Inc or Google. Since 2007, Shantanu Narayen is Adobe’s CEO. From 2020, Arvind Krishna is IBM’s CEO. Anjali Sood is Vimeo’s CEO since 2017. Amanpal Bhutani, GoDaddy’s CEO since 2019. During 2006-2018, Indra Nooyi was Pepsi Co’s CEO. During 2010-2020, Ajay Banga was MasterCard’s CEO. The list doesn’t end here. The trend isn’t seen only in American companies. It is also seen in Australian companies. Stockland’s Tarun Gupta. Orica’s Sanjeev Gandhi. Link’s Vivek Bhatia. Pact’s Sanjay Dayal. Newcrest’s Sandeep Biswas. Cleanaway’s Vik Bansal. Some examples can be seen in British companies as well. Like Laxman Narasimhan, Reckitt Benckiser’s CEO. The examples that I quoted, friends, Most of these people are of Indian origin.

Meaning that they were born in India Grew up in India. Completed their education from some popular Indian colleges like IIT-Bombay or IIM Ahmedabad, BITS Pilani or Manipal Institute of Technology, After completing their studies, they moved to another country, In some cases, they even took the citizenship of other countries. And now, they are working in high positions at companies of those countries. America, Australia and Europe, you’ll get many such examples of Indian origin people living at these places. But what about Asian countries? China, Korea, Japan, Singapore, the UAE, are there such examples here? Friends, to answer that, it is very rare. You’ll hardly get any examples of it. Like the CEO of Singapore based DBS Group, Piyush Gupta. In 2015, it was announced that the CEO of the Japanese Bank SoftBank could be Nikesh Arora, a person of Indian origin.

It was decided and caused a lot of sensation. Because it is very rare for this to happen in a country like Japan. This decision was later overturned and a Japanese person continued to be the CEO. Even in a country like China, to look for such examples is next to impossible. Don’t imagine it to be a conspiracy against India. The real reason behind it is that these Asian countries have a very closed-off culture. The people there do not readily accept foreigners to the extent that they could become a CEO of a company in their country. You wouldn’t find it too weird because we have a similar culture in India.

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In fact, in India, it is so closed-off, that a foreigner becoming the CEO of an Indian company is so far fetched, even Indians themselves don’t get the chance to become the CEO in an Indian company, because most of the Indian companies are actually running a family business. Have you ever noticed that the names of many Indian companies is based on the surname of the family? Adani, Tata, Birla, Godrej, Bajaj, Mahindra, Jindal, Mittal, Oberoi, Goenka, Byju’s, Shiv Nadar, Using one’s family name as the company isn’t out of the ordinary, but the problem arises when the top leadership positions of these companies are occupied only by the family members.

We get to see an unhealthy amount of Nepotism here and Meritocracy is strictly lacking. Think about it, for an IIT graduate, it is much more difficult to become the CEO of Godrej, Mahindra or Bajaj group as compared to becoming the CEO of Google. Because there are so many family businesses here. In most companies, people from outside the company are hardly, if ever, given the position of CEO. Another interesting trend is seen here that of the Indian origin CEOs, most of them work in the field of tech. Most of these Indians are software engineers, who’ve studied in the IT field.

And then they started working at these big tech companies or product companies and took their careers to the next level. This can be done by studying Data Structure Algorithms, System Designs, Data Science, and similar topics. So many CEOs have studied Software Engineering and almost all the CEOs have an engineering background, so you’d imagine that there is a good scope of engineering in India. But do you know the reality, friends? According to an Employability Assessment Survey, by Aspiring Minds 95% of India’s graduate engineers, are not qualified for software engineering jobs.

Tech Mahindra’s MD has also said that 94% of the engineering graduates in India, are not fit for hiring. Actually, if you ignore the top colleges like IITs, then apart from these prestigious universities, the standard of engineering colleges in India is terrible. The root problem is that these low-quality engineering colleges are simply churning out engineering degrees, And the actual skills that need to be taught to the college graduates, aren’t being taught by them. That’s why their graduate engineers have no skills. And are unfit for jobs.

As Indians, we feel very proud if an Indian origin person becomes the CEO of an American company. But in how many Indian companies are from America, Nigeria, China, Japan? In fact, how many examples are there of a foreigner being the CEO of an Indian company? It is very rare. One example that I can think of is the CEO of Tata Motors, Guenter Butschek. He was the CEO between 2016 to a few months ago in 2021. But such examples are very rare. Similarly, Indians feel very proud when a person with Indian ancestry, gets to a political position in a foreign country.

Like Kamala Harris and Bobby Jindal in the USA. Priti Patel and Alok Sharma in Britain. Jagmeet Singh in Canada, Deepak Raj-Gupta in Australia, Mahendra Chaudhry in Fiji, Anerood Jugnauth in Mauritius. But when it comes to Sonia Gandhi, then the very first point of criticism that we have is Sonia Gandhi’s Italian origin. How can an Indian politician be born in a foreign country? How can they have ancestry from abroad? Millenniums ago, our Upanishads talk about the concept of “The World is my Family” Every people in the world is like a family member. Today, you can describe it with one word Cosmopolitan.

While on one hand, countries like Australia, the USA and the European countries have accepted the ideology of Cosmopolitanism, On the other hand, India and many other Asian countries, have not embraced the spirit of this concept yet. Just for the sake of saying it, we say “Guests are like God”, but the ground reality is that we get to witness attacks on Africans, we see Xenophobia, distrust of the foreigners, and hatred against the foreigners. The situation was so bad in 2016, that African Heads of Mission had issued a statement regarding this in New Delhi. Asked the government to counter this racism, and the attacks against Africans should be stopped.

Our then External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, responded to this by saying that stringent actions would be taken against the culprits. Not only the foreigners, for people travelling from one state to the other in their own country, it becomes difficult to do so. We get to see such examples in states like Maharashtra and Gujarat, how the UP and Bihar migrants have to suffer atrocities there. There are attacks against them. “The boys that have come from UP, Bihar with fake certificates, have been driven away, And people from Maharashtra should get admission here.” Kashmiri students are attacked in states like Rajasthan, UP, Haryana. In 2021, ICSSR commissioned a Government Study. They interviewed about 1,200 people across 6 metro cities, It was found that North-eastern people have to go through so much harassment ever since the Covid outbreak.

They are often insulted and harassed by calling them Coronavirus. Or take Nitish Kumar’s campaign from the 2015 Bihar elections, in which the campaign uses the slogan “Biharis versus Outsiders” Apart from this regionalism, we also see the problem of religious communalism. The multitude of clashes in the country in the name of religion. We also see the problem of casteism. Run this Google search. You’ll get more than 50 news articles on it. There are so many such incidents, every week, every month. And when we talk about the issue of Brain Drain, about how Indians go abroad and become the CEOs of foreign companies, the blame is often put on Caste Reservations.

But if you think about it, do you get caste reservations in private jobs? There are no caste reservations in private jobs. There are no caste reservations if you want to start your business, or your company. Caste reservations are in the government jobs only. And the government jobs form a very small percentage of the total workforce. There are caste reservations in colleges as well, but the people that have gone and become CEOs abroad, have studied at prestigious colleges. In many cases, they’ve studied at Indian Universities and Indian colleges. Even then, why did they choose to go abroad? In comparison to staying in India.

The real reason behind it is that the societies of these countries, are very open and accepting of outsiders. And these countries do not have Casteism, Communalism, Regionalism like in India. Neither is Nepotism seen in family businesses. It is easier to do a job or a business without having to face these discriminations. And obviously, the other reasons, The law and order of the country, a lesser degree of corruption, having to face no political harassment, also play a part. It’s not that America doesn’t have extreme right-wing people, or that there are no racist attacks.

Many cases have been seen in Australia, Canada, Racist attacks against Indians in America. But these cases are very rare, first of all, and the second and more important thing is that the police take these things seriously there. They work to maintain law and order. Politicians don’t come out with rallies in favour of racist people. There have been some recent examples like Donald Trump, but generally, the police there work diligently, to maintain law and order. The third thing is that the governments often acknowledge these problems. They don’t look the other way. Like in 2009, the Australian Prime Minister, condemned the racist attacks against Indians.

Talking about being a Cosmopolitan, America stands out the most when compared to all other countries. America is thought to be the Land of Opportunities And it is quite true. It is one of the major reasons why America could become a superpower. I talked about it in an older video, about why America is the World’s #1 Superpower today.

All of them are immigrants who became successful in America because America gave them the opportunity to. If you look at the list of Fortune Top 500 Companies of 2017, you’d find that 57% of the CEOs of the Top 35 companies, are immigrants. Either they are from outside America, or they are the children of immigrants. And of all the immigrants, Indians are the dominant group for tech startups. So big question that arises here How can India become a Land of Opportunities? It’s not that India had 12-13 talented people and all of them have become CEOs of American companies, There is still so much talent in India. How can that talent be capitalised on?

There are some solutions here. The first is to make India a safe country where the law and order actually works. That is not under the rule of goons. I talked about this in the last video. Society needs to be created where everyone feels safe and secure. Where there is no discrimination in the name of Caste, Religion, Region or Family. Not only degrees, but skill development also needs to be taken seriously. So that people would actually be trained for work. The government should spend more of the budget on Research and Innovation. The tax system and the process of setting up a business should be simplified. And made so easier that it could be done without needing the help of a CA. And finally, remember one thing, Brain Drain is better than Brain in the Drain. Did you get what I’m trying to say?

There’s no use in blackmailing people into staying in the country and asking them to look for opportunities within the country only. If people feel that there are more opportunities abroad, that they can better utilise their talent there So they should be allowed to do so. They shouldn’t be forced to stay and use their talents only in India. Because instead of wasting the talent, it is better that it’s used somewhere. The focus should be on building better opportunities how the country could be improved.

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