American Renaissance

Indians in The US To Rule American IT Sector (India), May 12

When Bob Dylan sang “The times they are a changin’ in the swinging sixties, little did he realise that four decades later, Americans would be mouthing his lyrics, as the world saw a major overhaul with young countries and new economies taking charge of the brigade.

And leading the pack are Indians with their knowledge, technical prowess and skills, sending jitters down the American spine.

Even as the US cries hoarse over outsourcing and exodus of jobs to cheaper destinations, a new report of the US’ National Science Board (NSB) forecasts that the future of United States will be largely manned by Indians, living in American shores.

An independent national body advising US President and Congress on policy issues in science and engineering, the NSB in its biennial report titled ‘Science and Engineering (S&E) Indicators 2004’ released last week, speaks of the swelling Indian talent across American universities and research labs.

Data from the 2000 US Census reveal that in science and engineering occupations, approximately 17 per cent of bachelor’s degree holders, 29 per cent of master’s degree holders, and 38 per cent of doctorate holders are all foreign-born.

Immigrant scientists and engineers have been contributing more than 30,000 individuals to the 1.5 million strong diasporic population.

Indians with 14% of the science and engineering degrees given by American universities are at the top followed by China at 10%, and Germany, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, and Canada, producing 5% each.

Thus, the crux of American knowledge-bank rests not on native talent, but migrant population, especially Indians, who contribute talent, scientific ingenuity and technical sophistication to the US science and technology enterprise, opening up avenues for international scientific cooperation.

And in times to come, the report, further observes, it will be the Indian workforce that will be a driving force in propelling the American economy and growth, stationed in the US of A. An integral part of the world’s largest democracy, Indians will be calling the shots in the land of plenty!

Indians Call The Shots

Recent years has seen a spurt in the number of Indians landing in the Big Apple and making their dreams come true.

A sound secondary education system ensured that a large number of Indian students took the flight across the seas to pursue higher education .

A trend which started in the 1970’s and accelerated in the 1990s, the percentage of Indian S&E doctorate recipients, who had ”plans to stay” on in the USA increased from 85.6% in 1990-93 to 94% in 1998-2001.

The number of Indians who decided to stay on in the US, thanks to post-doctoral research appointments or jobs with firms, shot up from 62.6% in 1990-93 to 73.2% in 1998-2001.

And this is not all. The annual report further notes that between 1985 and 2000, of the 13,000 Indian S&E doctorate recipients at US universities, 57.8 per cent accepted firm offers to stay on in USA.

Out of these, 23.9 per cent were engaged in post-doctoral work and 33.8 per cent were employed in jobs. In 2001, 77 per cent S&E doctoral degree recipients from India had reported accepting firm offers for employment or post-doctoral research in the US.

This, in other words, clearly implies, that in the near future, a large number of America’s work force, will invariably comprise Indians, all engaged in key positions.

Currently, more than half of those with S&E degrees in the US are aged between 40 or older, while the 40-44 age group is nearly four times as large as the 60-64 age group. This means a huge gap exist in the presence of native tech professionals and this is where the domiciled Indian professionals step in to make their mark.

The proliferation of Indian talent is evident from the fact that between 1985-2000, Indian students bagged the largest number of US doctoral degrees awarded to any foreign group in computer and information sciences.

In 2000, there were 1,96,000 India-born college-educated individuals working in identifiable S&E jobs in USA, out of which 19,000 had doctorates. Around 23.1% of Indians employed abroad revolved around R&D or Research and Development work in the United States.

The report observes that USA has climbed down from its earlier No.3 position in 1975 to rank 17 today, among nations surveyed in proportion of its 18-24 year-olds earning natural S&E degrees.

Even as larger proportions of US citizens avail themselves of higher education, the nation has lost the advantage it held for several decades as the country offering by far the most widespread access to higher education.

Starting from the late 1970s, India has witnessed a jump in literacy level and the number of people flocking to the US has shot through the ceiling.

The Indian workforce, especially, the techie population is growing and becoming increasingly mobile in the US.

Competitive pressures has brought into fore the need for skilled labour force and therefore, market firms are looking east to hire high technically skilled workers. In fact, corporate America has now become so dependent on immigrant workers, that a law recently exempted the students studying in the US from the visa cap.

The future of the Indian techies is not only here. It is also there, in the US! Indian pros will rule American IT — not from India, but from the US!