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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Brain-drain to brain-gain

The year was 1982. Our son, Alok, had just completed his schooling and was keen to go to USA for undergraduation courses in computer. So were we, but our application to Reserve Bank of India for permit to remit fees in foreign exchange to a university in the U.S. was outright rejected--"There is no need for computer engineers in India." However, thanks to the timely intervention of a Member of Parliament, the RBI relented and issued the permit. We must now cross the mother of all hurdles, the US counsellor for visas, to make it to the US--"There is no automation in India, why would you want to spend so much money on computer courses in U.S.A.?" Alok's presence of mind saved the day for him-- "Sooner or later computerization will come to India too, I want to be fully qualified for it." And he joined the University of San Francisco for majoring in computers.

Thanks to India's most modern and computer savvy Prime Minister, the late Rajiv Gandhi, computerisation came to India. Alok was in his third year at the USF, when to his greatest surprise, his room-mate in the hostel gave him a message from Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi-- "India is all set to start computerization in a big way, and awaits your coming back after completing your courses in computers." The room-mate was son of Morocco's Prime Minister, who on official visit to India had mentioned to his counterpart that his son was doing computers in the US and his room-mate was from India. Rajiv Gandhi requested him to convey the message to the student from India through his son.

That was in the Eightees when the US embassy was very reluctant to issue visa to Indian students for studies in computers. Now after two decades, Fortune 500 headhunters are always on the lookout for Indian computer engineers-the hottest commodities. American universities love the kids from India, and so do the American companies. Thousands of Indian engineers have come to the U.S. in recent years to work in computer and software companies. "Microsoft, Intel, Sun Microsystems-you name it, I can't imagine a major area where Indian software engineers haven't played a leading role. How many jobs have Indian entrepreneurs created over the last 15-20 years, hundreds of thousands, I would guess,"says Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems and one of Silicon Valley's most important venture capitalists.

From India's perspective, the best part of the presence of Indian engineers in the U.S. is that each one of them is very sincere in saying the same thing-"I may be in the U.S., but my heart is in India." They have contributed to India's economic progress by the regular remittances of foreign exchange back home. The time has come, most of them are ready to return home to participate in India's ongoing leap forward in the Information Technology. The biggest brain-drain of the last two decades has become the biggest brain-gain for India in the last two years.


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