Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Another lesson here

We all know by now, how to write about India, but heres an advanced course.

First, the name, of the hero of your piece. Preferably the first name should be a Rahul, Vijay or Simran type name. It is preferable that the second is a tough to pronounce one.

Make a necessity a virtue. Repeat as necessary.

The growing American interest in Indian education reflects a confluence of trends. It comes as American universities are trying to expand their global reach in general, and discovering India's economic rise in particular. It also reflects the need for India to close its gaping demand for higher education.

Well, lets not kid ourselves, they are not altruistic. It is a huge market and it is "foreign students" who pay fees in the US, so it is important that, like our search for oil, they search resources who will pay for their courses.

Add salt to taste.

India's public universities are often woefully underfinanced and strike-prone.

Indians are already voting with their feet: the commission estimates that 160,000 Indians are studying abroad, spending an estimated $4 billion a year. (Nobody goes abroad because of strikes and because universities are underfinanced - they go for a thousand other reasons.)

Bring out your servility hat.

The applicants on the recent evening in Chennai were eager to please the gatekeepers from Pittsburgh. They addressed them politely with a series of "yes, sirs." Asked what they could contribute to Carnegie Mellon, some of them became flummoxed.

For every Carnegie Mellon or Columbia there are other dubious colleges from all over the world taking advantage of the lax regulations. Currently, any Tom, Dick, Harry or ponytail can get a tie up with any single room kitchen university from anywhere and depending on his or her marketing skills, get students. After all, in India, getting students is not the toughest part.

From a regular How to write about India "contributor", this one is from Spiegel.de - an otherwise excellent read.

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