Disclaimers:

  1. Yes, I used Sundar Pichai’s name ONLY to attract readers’ attention !!
  2. Written nothing that has not already been taught, preached and shared earlier by someone !!
  3. May not be relevant for non-Indians !!

The question is if India wants to take credit for Sundar Pichai’s success, why in the world, he had to move to the US for better prospects?

Here you go. Another Indian taking the top job at the Mecca of Tech, the Scion of Silicon Valley!!

sundar

India goes euphoric over the meteoric rise of new breed of Indians garnering the coveted corner office of the mammoth multinational companies. We are quick to promote and flag the “Indian” identity but glaringly miss out the learnings from his failures, struggles, his reason to move to the US and most importantly, his days in Wharton.

The society is always ready to share one’s success but most often it does not comfort or support during failures. Worst, it can potentially kill one’s vision and ambition by ridiculing without realizing that failures are necessary parts of growing up and are stepping stones for success. All who make such unwarranted, unsolicited and unnecessary remarks without realizing one’s sincere efforts and reason behind such failures will never have tried anything new in their unfortunate, boring and dull lives. Their lives are just equal to nothing but vegetables. It only glorifies success but do not appreciate failures as learning steps and the attempt.

To understand this better, one must ask those who attempt Union Public Service Commission exams year after year after year. Until they crack the exam, most of them will be ridiculed, their repeated attempts will be laughed at and even worse they might not even get married. But once they succeed and get the position of IAS, IPS whatever, everyone will swarm them to take credit for their success and pour in appreciations and wishes.

May24-2015-11-40amCivil-Services-Examination

Entrepreneurs are another big category of sufferers of the insensibility of the society to value individual life, preferences, aspirations, and measure of success. Until they achieve something big, they will be ridiculed and made fun of as a mediocre business owners who can never achieve anything significant in their lives.

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What we fail to appreciate is there is no one definition of success but it varies with person to person. How many Sundar Pichai’s are working relentlessly on their dreams, failing and failing again but not giving up; chasing their dreams, building ambitions and riding on their aspirations to win on what they think as success in life. As a society, we, Indians, must realize and appreciate the fact that everyone has a unique life and goals to achieve.

european

They need not be appreciated or even supported when they fail but the society at least can stay away from criticizing their ambitions; ridiculing their dreams and expecting them to conform to what is defined as success, which may differ from their definition. Also, it must refrain from pulling them down or comparing them with another fellow who has a different life and sets of expectations in life.

The change must start at homes.

There are virtually uncountable number of definitions of success that we have grown up listening to since our childhood such as earning a degree (only) in engineering or medicine or CA; getting employed (only) in a white-collar job with an MNC; studying (only) in Ivy League colleges; an on-site assignment (only) in the US.

In some parts of the country, it is a shame for the entire family, if at least one boy or girl from the family does not get to live in the US.

Similarly, No other degrees other than software engineering are recognized, accepted or appreciated by anyone including family, friends and relatives.

What we fail to understand, as a society, in which conformance is most important than success; creativity is seen as violation of the unwritten social code; questioning and curiosity are viewed as impolite behavior and being equal is more important than being successful in their own perspectives.

Also, it is important to realize what happens because of stratification and stereotyping. At one point of time, I was ridiculed for choosing to study agriculture while engineering/ medicine/ CA was the default expectation, the unwritten law and the non-negotiable barometer for success for an average middle-class Brahmin boy from Tamil Nadu. (Wow!! pretty much matches with Sundar Pichai’s background, uh?)

For example, eons ago, teaching was a noble, well respected profession but eventually, it has become so pathetic that the society does not consider it equal (leave alone greater) to engineering or medicine degrees.

As a result, current quality of teachers has become really questionable partly because teachers – whether in schools, colleges or even IITs – do not get equal salaries nor the status compared to other professionals such as engineers, doctors or auditors.

We should be certainly proud of his achievement. But we do not know how difficult it would have been for him to fight the system of education and conditioning. We celebrate such high flying top executives that they are just “Indian” but fail to recognize something is definitely not right with our education which is purely based on rotten memorization.

But we can learn from Finland where becoming a teacher is probably the toughest and so the country has one of the best education systems in the world that fosters creativity, critical thinking and a holistic learning of skills needed to live a peaceful, content and successful life. In contrast, we continue to vote for and support for those who please us with short-term pleasures like scrapping entrance exams. Look what has happened to the engineering education in Tamil Nadu and in the country. A recent survey says only 18% of engineers are employable.

education-system-in-out-cartoon

Other professions including agriculture are possibly equally screwed up or even be much worse. So where will the next Sundar Pichai come from? When degree, work title, money and material wealth are being hailed the ultimate symbol of success in life, everyone gets measured by one common denominator i.e “$” and nothing else.

the-indian-education-system-explained

When the society does not support an individual during his failures, it doesn’t deserve to share the joy of his/her success.

Let success or failure be an individual phenomenon. Society has no role in one’s attempts. It can at least refrain from interfering during the periods of struggle but often it is not the case.

There is enormous social pressure to perform and succeed that too in a way that is conditioned by the society. Of late, there are millions of cases of “Hikikomori” in Japan created by this kind of societal conditioning, unfair expectations and pressure to perform. Those who are gritty and fight the system, become successful like Sundar Pichai and those who succumb to the pressures withdraw from the world, shrink their universe and get confined to four walls. Also similar are the cases of over-zealous “Tiger moms” – as the Asian parents are famously called in the West. Recently, a teenage girl surprised the whole world when she hired goons to kill her over-zealous parents.

tiger mom

It is definitely not to throw mud on our culture and glorify others but to point out there are certain areas we must change. Unless we change and stop being judgmental towards an individual’s success or failure; unless we change our attitudes to one’s definition of life, ambition and success, more and more such smart, innovative, and intelligent people will move to places where they get recognized for their attempts, including failures and get appreciated for their efforts, not just for the results.

We must leave it to the individuals to define what success means to him or her; must teach our children to take responsibility to define and shape their own dreams; must refrain from conditioning the young, creative, curious minds on what would be usually accepted as success in life.

Instead, the more we encourage free thinking among our kids become, more and more innovations and new ideas will flourish.

Till such time, sit back, relax, enjoy life and wait for the next big announcement from, yes, Silicon Valley !!