Today my professor Yumna Siddiqi brought her parents from India in to chat with my First Year Seminar class on 20th Century Indian Literature. I was most interested by Mr. Siddiqi who talked about the education system in India being very science focused. He said that while there is a lot of science and technology buzz in the country as a whole, the education system is not as scary as it seems in the common globalization readings of Thomas Friedman and the like. He claims that only 10% of the scientific universities are of good quality and that a lot of the research/developement is no longer taking place at the university level. Instead, research is taking place at institutes which are quite small in size. A lot of students (100,000?) are going to the United States to study. The brightest of the bright still stay in the U.S. and, I suppose, Americans should be happy to be attaining talent from abroad. Indians are certainly unhappy about the “brain drain” as he termed it but the education abroad means more space for the unending population of rising students in India. That said, India’s universities are crowded and professors are not willing to branch out into new universities instead opting only to teach at the few academically proven urban schools. Mr. Siddiqi made the point that while science and technology have helped the country considerably, it is not a cure all as it has only really affected India’s urban population. Much of India is still trapped in the rural society. The challenge of the future is bridging the gap so that the rural population can experience the benefits of science and technology. China is experiencing a similar problem at least in terms of the rural/urban issue. They too are pumping out students in a highly-funded education system but China is not really trying in the R&D sector past the symbollic space program.
Also in class today, we discussed a really interesting idea that globalization occurs on two fronts. The traditional globalization: financial, capital, goods, etc. is perhaps the best known. It also can occur on the justice and social level. Arundhuti Roy (best known for the fictional The God of Small Things) said in an interview that she advocates “the globalization of justice.” Something to ponder… How are we really globalizing the world?