By any standards, this is an achievement that deserves a hearty round of applause.
Make a quick mental list of Indian success stories, which are at par or above global standards of excellence, in the recent past – in the sciences or even in the humanities. You are bound to notice that many of those who feature on this list are those who have left India’s shores, and flourished elsewhere. Be it Ramakrishnan, Subramanian Chandrasekhar or Amartya Sen, talented individuals have done very well for themselves when they have had access to an environment that provides ample opportunities, nourishes excellence and has mostly banished a stifling bureaucracy.
Indians are no less talented than people elsewhere in the world. But they are often boxed in by a system that is overstretched, riven by petty politics and is plain indifferent to merit. Beating the system here is a project for brave hearts. When excellence is not incentivised, it is only natural that those who seek to rise above limitations – and don’t want to navigate systemic pitfalls and loopholes at every step – seek greener pastures. We often complain about the brain drain while ourselves having created the conditions for it. If India is to earn its place in the league of advanced nations, it must focus on creating an environment that promotes learning as well as entrepreneurship at every level. It’s not impossible but this task requires a vision and drive that don’t appear currently to be in sufficient supply among our leaders.