India Graduates Millions, But Too Few Are Fit to Hire

Geeta Anand, Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2011

Call-center company 24/7 Customer Pvt. Ltd. is desperate to find new recruits who can answer questions by phone and email. It wants to hire 3,000 people this year. Yet in this country of 1.2 billion people, that is beginning to look like an impossible goal.

So few of the high school and college graduates who come through the door can communicate effectively in English, and so many lack a grasp of educational basics such as reading comprehension, that the company can hire just three out of every 100 applicants.

India projects an image of a nation churning out hundreds of thousands of students every year who are well educated, a looming threat to the better-paid middle-class workers of the West. Their abilities in math have been cited by President Barack Obama as a reason why the U.S. is facing competitive challenges.

Yet 24/7 Customer’s experience tells a very different story. Its increasing difficulty finding competent employees in India has forced the company to expand its search to the Philippines and Nicaragua. Most of its 8,000 employees are now based outside of India.


“With India’s population size, it should be so much easier to find employees,” says S. Nagarajan, founder of the company. “Instead, we’re scouring every nook and cranny.”

India’s economic expansion was supposed to create opportunities for millions to rise out of poverty, get an education and land good jobs. But as India liberalized its economy starting in 1991 after decades of socialism, it failed to reform its heavily regulated education system.

Business executives say schools are hampered by overbearing bureaucracy and a focus on rote learning rather than critical thinking and comprehension. The government keeps tuition low, which makes schools accessible to more students, but also keeps teacher salaries and budgets low. What’s more, say educators and business leaders, the curriculum in most places is outdated and disconnected from the real world.

“If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys,” says Vijay Thadani, chief executive of New Delhi-based NIIT Ltd. India, a recruitment firm that also runs job-training programs for college graduates lacking the skills to land good jobs.


Another survey, conducted annually by Pratham, a nongovernmental organization that aims to improve education for the poor, looked at grade-school performance at 13,000 schools across India. It found that about half of the country’s fifth graders can’t read at a second-grade level.

At stake is India’s ability to sustain growth–its economy is projected to expand 9% this year–while maintaining its advantages as a low-cost place to do business.


Mr. Singh and several other engineering graduates said they learned quickly that they needn’t bother to go to some classes. “The faculty take it very casually, and the students take it very casually, like they’ve all agreed not to be bothered too much,” Mr. Singh says. He says he routinely missed a couple of days of classes a week, and it took just three or four days of cramming from the textbook at the end of the semester to pass the exams.

Others said cheating, often in collaboration with test graders, is rampant. Deepak Sharma, 26, failed several exams when he was enrolled at a top engineering college outside of Delhi, until he finally figured out the trick: Writing his mobile number on the exam paper.

That’s what he did for a theory-of-computation exam, and shortly after, he says the examiner called him and offered to pass him and his friends if they paid 10,000 rupees each, about $250. He and four friends pulled together the money, and they all passed the test.

“I feel almost 99% certain that if I didn’t pay the money, I would have failed the exam again,” says Mr. Sharma.

BC Nakra, Pro Vice Chancellor of ITM University, where Mr. Sharma studied, said in an interview that there is no cheating at his school, and that if anyone were spotted cheating in this way, he would be “behind bars.” {snip}



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44 Responses to “India Graduates Millions, But Too Few Are Fit to Hire” Subscribe

  1. Mike from not-Queens April 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    Is this article actually in the WSJ? The Wall Street Journal?! Home of Dan “Where’s the impact?” Henninger (something he said about immigration) and other race replacement cheerleaders? So I guess the bottom-line guys are starting to figure out that replacing a 100 IQ middle class with 85 IQ 3rd worlders doesn’t produce a 100 IQ economy. But if they do come around it would only be on an cost basis and not because their neighborhood was swamped with Indians, with their seven-day wedding celebrations and outdoor defecation. What the hell, at this point I’ll take it. Anything to blow the model minority myth out of the water.

    On an somewhat unrelated note (but not really), I read in Yahoo that Sai Baba, India’s 85 yr.old “living saint” is dying in some hospital. Hundreds of millions of Hindus believe this guy is literally God, and he needs dialysis. When he dies expect a much longer wait for your sub-par tech service.

  2. sbuffalonative April 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Business executives say schools are hampered by overbearing bureaucracy and a focus on rote learning rather than critical thinking and comprehension.

    Personally, I’m all for rote learning. I believe too much emphasis is placed on so-called ‘critical thinking’ which I consider nothing more than code for indoctrination and flexible (and highly questionable) grading methods.

    America put men on the moon using students from schools which taught with rote learning.

    I don’t believe rote learning is the problem.

  3. Anonymous April 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    I doubt it is the rote learning. I suspect it is the widespread cheating, including hiring people to take the classes and the clerks and administrators taking bribes to create transcripts and diplomas for anyone who pays enough.

  4. Anonymous April 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    ‘Rote learning’ in the past was being overlaid on the fertile creative minds of whites, which produced different results from the same stimulus applied to the Oriental-Asian mind.

    The world is an experiment with live subjects, and the outcomes can be studied in the societies each builds.

  5. Anonymous April 7, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    This would explain general observations of Indian engineers, computer programmers and technicians. They, Pakistanis and Iranians too in my observation.

    As an undergrad, I was asked beginner’s questions by Indians such as applying Ohm’s Law to a simple problem. Some of these fellow students supposedly had master’s degrees from an Indian university now working on a bachelor’s. They seemed to have as much knowledge as someone who barely graduated from high school. At work, I am often consulted by tech support even though I’m in a different department with newbie type questions such as how to change the boot order from a hard drive to the DVD/CD drive. And these guys have MSCE, CNE, CCNA and all kinds of other certifications.

    I’ve known bright computer types but they were native whites, Eastern European immigrants and some Chinese. Absolutely none from the Hindu, Sikh nor Muslim regions. Competent at best but not bright.

  6. Whiteplight April 7, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    2 — sbuffalonative wrote at 6:12 PM on April 7:

    “Personally, I’m all for rote learning. I believe too much emphasis is placed on so-called ‘critical thinking’ which I consider nothing more than code for indoctrination and flexible (and highly questionable) grading methods.

    America put men on the moon using students from schools which taught with rote learning.

    I don’t believe rote learning is the problem.”

    > Wrong, all all counts. The three “Rs” are what I believe you are thinking about, not rote learning. Having a foundation in the basics is not rote learning. Reciting dates or formulas without deeper comprehension is what does not make rocket scientists. Critical thinking ability is what one develops from debate and chess playing. It is also the core of scientific methodology, which is where all those high IQ white stats come from, as well as everything else. However, quoting your most convenient verses from the Bible is a kind of rote learning, and thinking.

    There is a cultural facet to this problem, all the same. Indians tend to think that having the paper (diploma) is all that matters. When I was in college, back in the late 70s, early 80s, the college hired a teacher from India. It soon became plain that she didn’t know anything, she just told us to read a certain amount of material and then gave prepared tests that she had sampled elsewhere. This is exactly how Indian computer program help desk hotlines work; someone gets a call, gives a prepared answer. If the answer doesn’t satisfy, they put you on hold, go to the answer man, who has a bigger list, and then gets back to you. Then, they want you to fill out a customer satisfaction survey so that they can hone the process.

  7. Question Diversity April 7, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    2 sbuffalonative:

    I think a lot of games can be played with the semantics of the term “critical thinking.” When the left wingers use it, they mean that they want people to be “critical” of conservative ideology but not of leftist ideology. In which case it isn’t “critical thinking,” but rote memorization and repetition of kook extremist dogma.

    The way we define “critical thinking,” more of a literal definition of the phrase, is absolutely fundamental to scientific progress, including the space program which you mentioned.

    That said, a certain amount of information absorbed by rote is an absolute prerequisite to critical thinking.

  8. Anonymous April 7, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    BC Nakra, Pro Vice Chancellor of ITM University, where Mr. Sharma studied, said in an interview that there is no cheating at his school, and that if anyone were spotted cheating in this way, he would be “behind bars.”

    Lol….he wishes. The truth is, there have been several attempts to ban “cheating” (actually paying for passing). The result is the same every time…..rioting. Literal rioting…the type where they burn cars and smash buildings.

    If Nakra dared to try to stop someone from buying their diploma, he’d be beaten, maybe even killed.

    The truth behind india is only a very small percentage have a high enough IQ to legitimately learn their subject and pass a real examination. Those that do, and have any money at all, certainly don’t go to any school in india.

    There is a repeating pattern going on in the US with regard to outsourcing, at least IT outsourcing. You have a group. That group is assigned projects. Some liberal (and it’s always a liberal….these things are done for reasons of “social justice” not profit) notices he can hire people from india for ten cents on the dollar. That’s illegal (it is ILLEGAL to hire foreigners to depress wages in the US…..most don’t know and it doesn’t matter much since the law is simply ignored) so he sells his plan to a group of clueless, worthless managers as say, hiring for a modest savings.

    They hire a couple of guys. They can barely read. Nobody wants to take responsibility for such a ridiculous situation so the rest of the guys in the group do their work. They get fed up and start quiting. More indians are hired. Enough that they get a toe in the decision making process. They hire only indians, often forcing the soon to be fired white employees to try and provide the education they never really got, in a few months time. Both these things are illegal (and racist) but it’s not like the US is a place where the rule of law holds sway. Anyone who complains is called a racist (fired and black balled….also illegal….but at this point nobody even notices). No work of any kind gets done. Suddenly, some higher ups notice this and eliminate the non-productive group. After several groups are eliminated, the company downsizes because it can’t get any projects completed and nobody seems to know why. Just to add insult to injury, some guy who pulls a big paycheck for little more reason than to prove indians are hired for high level management as part of the worship of “diversity” gets to complain how “lazy” American workers are in a highly visibility public forum. And let’s not forget TV commercials portraying indians are such talented employees they are basically high technology “rock stars”. All this, and I doubt any company in the US can produce a single indian employee with a legitimate high degree of value, profitability or how about this….what would be considered more than a high school level education by US standards. It’s that bad.

  9. Urban Teacher April 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

    The average IQ in India is 81. Lower than that of the US.

    However, they have so many people that they still have a large number of smart ones.

    And then there are the castes

  10. MS April 7, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    In 1984 I worked in Sri Lanka to train 3 Ceylon Electricity Board engineers. I trained them how to estimate future electricity demand by plugging economic statistics into a statistical software package. One of the guys was very sharp. He learned everything quickly. I worked with him later stateside. He could have been an engineer anywhere. The other two were a different story. I was never confident they grasp the concepts I was teaching. I would tell them stuff to do and not do. I never knew if my instructions would be followed. That said and reading the Wall Street Journal article it seems to me there is a ceiling on the number of Indian subcontinent people that can handle outsourcing jobs.

  11. Anonymous April 7, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    I partially agree with sbuffalonative that rote learning is not the problem. Memory is the foundation of learning. However, rote learning is one factor in how East Asians and Indians are pushing white people out of white created schools in America. American colleges are churning out grinds, not the next generation of innovators. With more Asian immigration the more Americans will be forced to adopt the Asian style of results over everything and work until you drop.

    This same situation has played out in Japan for the last 3+ weeks. We’ve been told for years how the Japanese were so advanced in robotics yet the Japanese had to ask the US for robots to help with the nuclear disaster. Just like Toyota asked NASA last year to find out what was wrong with their cars. They can copy already made designs very well but actually understanding it is another story.

  12. The Bobster April 7, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    Jugdesh? Jugdesh? Where are you? We need your astute comments on your mentally superior countrymen.

  13. Greg April 7, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    Reality is beginning to show. Although we in the West are instructed to be amazed, worried, and downright impressed with the growth around the world, signs of a leveling off are beginning to show not only in India, but also in China, Brazil, and elsewhere.

    Commenter 1 quantified the limitations other nations have, average IQ being a major determinent. However, other characteristics (such as ingenuity, innovation, and individual liberty) are also nearly exclusively Western. Even in IQ rich China, people have little incentive to be innovative and unorthodox, as the rigid system and repression of speech retards the growth of the country.

  14. Anonymous April 7, 2011 at 10:55 pm #

    5 — Anonymous wrote at 8:14 PM on April 7

    I am not a techie by any stretch of the imagination and have been asked some really basic questions. I learned a few years back to say “I don’t know” and let the higher up deal with the incompetent hindoos they hire.

  15. Anonymous April 8, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    2 — sbuffalonative wrote at 6:12 PM on April 7:

    Business executives say schools are hampered by overbearing bureaucracy and a focus on rote learning rather than critical thinking and comprehension.

    Personally, I’m all for rote learning. I believe too much emphasis is placed on so-called ‘critical thinking’ which I consider nothing more than code for indoctrination and flexible (and highly questionable) grading methods.

    America put men on the moon using students from schools which taught with rote learning.

    I don’t believe rote learning is the problem.


    I mostly agree. Rote learning by itself just creates a giant encyclopedia. The problem is nobody can teach a person to think up new ideas. Most of what people do in everyday life is some variation of; “If this -> than that.” There is very little actual thinking.

    I dropped out of a college English class in critical thinking because, like you noticed, it had little to do with actually thinking for yourself, but instead had to do with how close you came to agreeing with the professor’s personal opinion. His person views were more twisted than the naps in his hair.

  16. Southern Hoosier April 8, 2011 at 1:12 am #

    Perhaps education is not the problem, but thought process is. There is a certain way the Western mind, especially the Anglo Saxon mind, works as opposed to the Eastern mind.

    Many of the problems facing India today, sewage disposal, clean drinking water, traffic flow, building codes, etc the West solved long ago. When we have a problem that we can’t solve, we are suppose to get help from people that still have not solved the most basic problems in life? We have given the world men like, Ford, Bell, the Wright brothers, Edison, Gates, just to name a few, all problem solvers. Who has India given us?

  17. Anonymous April 8, 2011 at 1:23 am #

    Rote learning is a wonderful short cut to save time. 5X5 will always equal 25. Once you learn that you will always know that 5X5=25 and not have to stop and reason it out each time you see 5X5.

  18. Gavrick April 8, 2011 at 1:40 am #

    The Indian Institute of Technology is a well known diploma mill. Well-known apparently, except by the US managers looking to replace their productive American technologists with compliant cheap slaves. Some Indians are quite bright, but they are the minority. THey also are very loyal to their tribe and, once in an organization will do everything possible to replace their co-workers with their relatives and fellow villagers.

  19. Andrew Neather April 8, 2011 at 4:08 am #

    Apparently there is no shortage of Indians speaking broken English rudely interrupting me by trying to sell some garbage at least twice a day.

  20. Anonymous April 8, 2011 at 5:49 am #

    No doubt this call center will be servicing customers in the US. It seems like any kind of customer service these days is outsourced to India and I have a hard time understanding them when they talk. It’s like listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher in that old cartoon. The customer service is appalling and many times they can’t comprehend what I’m asking. I got to where I would hang up on them but now I just ask to be transferred to someone in the US. “Rajesh” the troll probably won’t be posting comments on this article.

  21. Anonymous April 8, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    We are told constantly how Indian and Pakistani children, among others, are so smart compared to American children. The test scores that they use for their argument is a joke. The U.S. tests ALL children no matter the ability level. We test every child that public schools must legally provide an education for. That includes the entire spectrum, from validictorians to children with the most severe mental handicaps. The above mentioned only test the brightest children they have. They do not test the same levels of students as the U.S. If you compare the average of every student in America vs. only their brightest the results no where near accurate. If they were to include ALL of their average to lower intelligance students to the pool it would be a much different story. More hog-wash propoganda.

  22. on the lam from the Thought Police April 8, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    If I have a problem with my PC, call technical support, and hear an Indian accent on the other end of the phone I know I am in trouble.

  23. S.L. Cain April 8, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    “Question Diversity wrote at 8:35 PM on April 7:

    The way we define “critical thinking,” more of a literal definition of the phrase, is absolutely fundamental to scientific progress, including the space program which you mentioned.

    That said, a certain amount of information absorbed by rote is an absolute prerequisite to critical thinking.”

    That the term used is “critical thinking” betrays the fact that it is a fad of the educational left. The proper term is “thinking”, full stop. The modifier “critical” adds nothing.

    And sbuffalonative was correct in saying that rote learning is important – I don’t think he was implying that rote learning is all that is required. Thinking requires facts. Thinking consists of organizing facts and discovering the relationships between them. One can no more think without knowing things than one can do carpentry without lumber.

  24. Tim in Indiana April 8, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    In a recent news story on Amren, we read how there are more cellphones in India than private toilets. As usual,the original article had to give a bogus explanation for this bizarre state of affairs, suggesting that the presence of cell phones themselves would cause a popular uprising against the government (not explaining why newspapers, the radio and the ballot box failed to bring about necessary reforms).

    Just how advanced was India before the first white colonists came? As Anonymous wrote at 7:45 PM on April 7: “The world is an experiment with live subjects, and the outcomes can be studied in the societies each builds.”

  25. Duran Dahl April 8, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    The unparalleled creativity of the European mind springs from the last ice age where the carcasses of the slow-witted and hidebound were found wolf-gnawed after a thaw. We Aryans are wired for innovation, coordinated pro-social action and alternately, war. Non-whites are occasionally capable of innovation, even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then, just don’t expect a Tesla in a turban.

  26. rebelcelt April 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    A few years ago I made a good living staffing programmers, then thousands of H-1b visa programmers poured into the country. Virtualy all the small and medium sized companies were forced out of the buisness (unless you were minority owned then you could land nice contracts). You basicaly had to have an office in India to recruit. Of course the quality of programmer dropped through the floor….but they were cheap.

    The only gratifying part was watching the big companies lose a lot of their buisness to the Indians whom they formerly employed.The Indians are very entrprenuerial and would start their own buisness through the contacts that they made in the USA. The large IBM and formerly Anderson Consulting never have figured out the obvious.

    God save us from the large Corporate Bosses, they are to smug in their Harvard bottom line economic classes to know they are winning tactically but losing strategically.

  27. Michael C. Scott April 8, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Not only do they prefer to teach by rote, Indian universities also tolerate widespread cheating. I worked with two Indian electrical engineers in the 1990s, and neither of them could have invented his way out of a paper bag with a chainsaw and a flamethrower.

  28. foreigner April 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    As an Indian in the west about to graduate as a mechanical engineer, I fully agree with this article and the comments.

    I came here with the impression that all whites in my class were inferior in math and sciences. (can you blame me, years of my own country’s liberal brainwashing).

    All the lies came crashing down as I saw normal American kids play baseball or hit the gym daily, go clubbing and camping, have 2 jobs, and have a A or B average, while it took Indian kids like myself 5 hours at the library everyday with no social life to attain the same grades.

    But then again, I hung out with the local kids more than my own and finally learnt the value of doing my own work right the first time. A good carpenter measures twice and then cuts. In India, I’m afraid we are not measuring at all…

    Off to play some baseball.

  29. Mark April 8, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    I’ve worked with Indians for 10 years in the I.T. Industry. Generally, they are hard working and you find good and bad in the group from business point of view. They also tend to be arrogant and generally do not assimulate with whites due to the fact the Indians who obtain H-1 Visas come from upper Caste System in India. “Stretching the truth” seems to quite acceptable and almost a game with them. Half of Indians plan to return to India when they have pocketed enough money to buy a home in India at (full cash value).

    One friend from India who has been in the U.S. for 25 years is the exception, even he doesn’t understand why the U.S. goverment allows Indians in to under cut Americans.

    I am sure the WSJ only laments about Indian education because they wish it was better only so they could import even more of them.

  30. Anonymous April 8, 2011 at 5:32 pm #


    “With India’s population size, it should be so much easier to find employees,” says S. Nagarajan, founder of the company. “Instead, we’re scouring every nook and cranny.”


    Someone should mail this man a copy of _The Bell Curve_ and then ask him what he really thinks of the idea of 9% growth rate, PER YEAR in an educated population dedicated to, get this: Phone Center Work.

    They are skimming the cream from their high IQ base to work in a intellectual equivalent of a 7-11 for a nation that is halfway around the world from them. Only a fool would consider that a wise investment of his country’s intellectual capital.

    Speaking of which-


    Ranking Name IQ

    52 Philippines 86

    61 India 81



    Nicaragua IQ 84

    Philippines IQ 86

    India IQ 81


    Of note, Indians believe, to a 92nd percentile, that a religious attitude is critical as ‘We believe in crazy stuff!’

    And not only that, but as the Indians move into their next generation of service-with-an-accent, you can bet that the strain of sustaining an existing middle class (as a taxable population) will get _harder_. Because the mean IQ for those supposedly smart people’s children will be between their parents’ and their population norm.

    As a likely step downwards.

    According to Jensen, _Blacks in America have an average IQ of 87_.

    What are we doing? Does anyone know?

  31. Anonymous April 8, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the obvious. If India actually had such intellectual resources, then how come, despite hundreds of years of near unlimited investment from the prosperous white world, decades of that with totalitarian white masters who tried to force them to do the right things to have a successful society, India is still the third world….actually one of the very worst. The type of place where, even a rich tourist will see dead bodies float by in the river where he is staying (the type of place that Obama spent tens of millions of dollars building a giant tunnel of concrete and steel, so he could travel in his limo without having to actually experience it).

    Obviously, it’s a lie. India has resources. It has access to as much hard currency as it could possibly need from first world investment if not outright handouts. It should have become a first world nation generations ago. It has not for one simple reason….they are too stupid, genetically. So, if they can’t handle their own….can’t even slice off a piece and turn it into the exceptional place where the smart people can live a better life, how can they possibly be a source of intellectual labor.

    They can’t. And those that come here all have fraudulent credentials and can’t do the job. They were hired anyway because the guys doing the hiring are more interested in being racist against whites then in making profit. There have been consequences. People seem to forget that our economy has crashed and many of those businesses that fired their white staffs and hired Indians are out of business.

    This is, of course, the ultimate goal of the liberal…to shrink our economy.

  32. Anonymous April 8, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    If only one per cent of Indians were above average IQ, that is still a LOT of people.

    Back in the day, computer programming was a great, well-paid career choice for Americans. Now, due to the enormous amount of outsourcing, Visas, and the willingness of Indians to accept low wages, programming is no longer a great career choice. Jobs are often hard to get, temporary, and pay less than $20/hr.

  33. Jay April 9, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    It’s hard for companies in India to find staff because most of the cream of the crop has come over here. While I know my share of dullards from India, I also know quite a few who are brilliant. Probably more who are on the smart end than otherwise.

    Assimilation is a problem, I will agree, because they are clannish, but they don’t cause problems in the neighborhood like some other groups do.

    There is an interesting phenomenon of Indians who make the mistake of moving to ghetto areas. Their kids turn into little gangsta rappers!

  34. bio-robot April 11, 2011 at 4:42 am #

    Good day all! Human beings are programmed creatures and are bio-machines considering that all types of psyche are detailed within the Catalog of Human Population.

  35. Sid April 11, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    One must take into account that India is a recovering country from a severely wounded civilization following nearly 200 years of British colonialism. Also, the huge population and still underdeveloped resources are bound to create a situation that exists. However, it has made more progress in the last 15 years than most have imagined. However, it is clearly a work-in-progress. I think a much better picture would emerge in a couple of decades.

  36. Schoolteacher April 11, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    35 Sid: How, exactly, did British colonialism harm India? By building all the modern infrastructure? By uniting the hundreds of little principalities into one nation? By educating them in science and medicine and engineering and government? By suppressing banditry and religious fanaticism? I suppose it wounded the feelings of the Brahmins to find themselves answering to Britons, but the average Hindu benefitted greatly from the Raj. Without colonialism, India would be a stinking 16th Century pesthole.

  37. Anonymous April 13, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    35 Sid: How, exactly, did British colonialism harm India? By building all the modern infrastructure? By uniting the hundreds of little principalities into one nation? By educating them in science and medicine and engineering and government? By suppressing banditry and religious fanaticism? I suppose it wounded the feelings of the Brahmins to find themselves answering to Britons, but the average Hindu benefitted greatly from the Raj. Without colonialism, India would be a stinking 16th Century pesthole.

    36 — Schoolteacher wrote at 10:01 PM on April 11:

    School Teacher,

    You are actually mistaken. The Brits never actually built

    much infrastructure. They also did not unify the Indian

    principalities. Indian unification took place after they

    they had left and the credit for that goes to Vallabhai

    Patel, an Indian politician/statesman.

    Indians had their own science and mathematics and Medicine

    (ie. Ayurveda, Siddha etc) which was quite good. You make

    it sound as if they had no clue about this.

    No offence intended but Indians did not really benefit from

    colonialism and actually in 16th-century, India was one of

    the richest countries in the world. Fact.

    GDP estimate

    According to economic historian Angus Maddison in his book The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective, India had the world’s largest economy from the first to 11th century, and in the 18th century, with a (32.9%) share of world GDP in the 1st century to (28.9%) in 1000 AD, and in 1700 AD with (24.4%).[7]

  38. Schoolteacher April 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    37 Anon: The British built the railroads, the electrical grid, the telegraph network, the phone system, and factories. They brought modern medicine, introduced public health measures, paved roads, and much else. None of that is native to India. No doubt the Indians have expanded these since 1946. BTW, you can still buy a 1954 Royal Enfield motorcycle, made in India, in a factory built by the British. Not up to the standard of Harley Davidson, but still very cool.

    No, the Indians did not unify India. They took over the colonial administration of the Raj. That was easy enough, because the British had trained and employed many thousands of them to run the bureaucracy.

    I know that India had its own math and science and medicine. So has every culture.

    India was rich in the 16th Century because it was big. The population of England in 1600 was about 4.4 million. How many Indians at that time? A thousand people with $5 each are collectively richer than 25 people with $100 each. Better to be one of the collectively poorer 25 that one of the collectively richer one thousand.

  39. Anonymous April 14, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    36 & 38 Schoolteacher:

    Colonialism and development are oxymorons. The primary objective of colonization is to subjugate a country for the benefit of the colonizer. There is no benevolence involved.

    The british colonization of India was no exception. In fact, they did one better. As late as the 1820s, India’s economy comprised of about 24% of the world GDP. When they left in 1947 that had reduced to a mere 2%. That says it all. Over a period of 150 years, the British extracted and transported nearly the entire commercial agricultural production and mineral resources to feed the industrialization of Britain leaving a once prosperous subcontinent totally impoverished with the widespread poverty it created.

    The only infrastructure that the British ever created was the rail roads. But it did not have any altruistic motives. They were primarily built to facilitate the transportation of the resources from the interiors to ports for shipment to Britain. Indians benefitted very little from. The entire rail network had to be recast post independence to be of any real use to India and Indians. The same applies to some applies to electricity and telegraph. Only the bare minimum was installed to serve the interest of the British in ruling the country. There was no question of such services being present in India before since they are the product of inventions and innovation in the late 19th and early 20th century. However, one thing is absolutely certain; British colonization also deprived India the opportunity to industrialize itself during 1850-1950 which brought so much prosperity in the west.

    There is no evidence that the British ever imparted any scientific or technological knowledge to India. There is not a single institution of any such kind which predates india’s independence. All historical accounts report that any such usage in during that time was all indigenously procured. After independence, all institutions had to be built from scratch.

    It is hilarious that you would mention that the British played a part in unifying India. The British devised and followed the doctrine of “divide and rule” to perfection. How else can a band of traders from a tiny island country colonize an entire subcontinent. When the British left, there were more than 500 independent kingdoms and principalities which now constitutes India. All of them had to be brought on board to agree to be part of one political union. This entire exercise was left to the leaders of india’s freedom movement.

  40. Schoolteacher April 14, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    39 Anon: Colonialism and development go hand in glove. Did the Panamanians build the Panama Canal, or the Egyptians the Suez Canal? Did the Chinese or Malays make Hong Kong or Singapore great harbors? No, the colonizers don’t develop these things for the benefit of the colonized, but the locals still benefit when the imperialists go home. When you fly to Ho Chi Mihn city, you land at the airport the U.S. Air Force built.

    Any drop in India’s share of the world’s economy is due to the rest of the world accelerating, not because the British were taking all of the cotton, jute, and tea crops. The farm products would still be counted as part of India’s economy, wouldn’t they? And what mineral resources were the British taking from India, other than jewels for the Crown? The industrial revolution ran on coal and iron ore, not rubies and sapphires. BTW, I doubt that 24% figure for the 1820s. 24% in 1700, according to your post # 37, and still 24% after 120 years of rapid technological development in the West?

    The British laid 30,000 miles of track, and left it in place when they left. They put in a telegraph system that connected the major cities and everyplace in between. But none of this is useful to Indians? Connecting Karachi and Bombay to Madras and Calcutta is bad for India? The fact that the trains once carried cotton to British markets and soldiers to enforce British rule, or that the telegraph carried messages between plantation owners and their brokers in London, somehow means that an independent India cannot use the rails and wires? And if the British had not done these things, the Indians would have done it all themselves? Silly.

    I wouldn’t think that the British would have built any technological schools in India, when they didn’t have any in Britain either. 19th Century British scientists and engineers were generally self taught, often clergymen or physicians, or gifted mechanics. They did teach Indians to run the imported technology. When they left India, the trains kept running, the lights stayed on, the messages were sent and received, because Indians had been trained to do these things.

    Let’s see, the British conquered about 500 princely states, placed them under one ruler, established a system to administer the Raj for a century, trained Indians to run most of the day to day operations, but somehow that isn’t uniting India. No wonder that India graduates millions, but too few are fit to hire. They can’t think.

  41. Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    40 Schoolteacher:

    I see your attempt to justify colonialism as ridiculous and hilarious! An unintended outcome of a self-serving exercise cannot be claimed as beneficial in hindsight.

    None of your claims are corroborated by any independent historical accounts. The “benevolence” arising out of british self-serviance that you have mentioned is vastly exaggerated. And no, the British did not collect “jewels” only. They did take away iron ore, copper, aluminum and other mineral resources too. Where else did an Island nation with no mineral resources of its own get them to feed its industrialization.

    If India was not colonized, the progress that India would have done during those 150 years can be only assessed based on past rate of progress. It is true that industrialization was a key reason for redistribution of economic output in the 19th and the 20th century. Hence, countries whose economic output were purely agricultural and natural resources, were bound to lose. However, the primary flaw in this assumption is that India would not have industrialized itself too if left to itself. Any reasonable projection on this assumption would have indicate a very substantial progress. The loss of India’s GDP share has more do with colonial depravation and opportunity loss than due to other nations gaining ground. If a nation can maintain a economic dominance for millennia if not centuries, there is no basis to contend that it would have not maintained the same progress during 1800-1947, if left to its own devices.

    The princely states which were “united” during British rule, reverted to their previous independent state at independence since the british rule did not constitute a single political union or republic. A new union has to be negotiated.

  42. Schoolteacher April 16, 2011 at 4:16 am #

    41 Anon: Apparently Indian schools do a poor job of teaching English. No claims have been made here that colonialism was justified or benevolent. The issue is, did India gain from colonialism? Not enough, it seems, given the inability of her graduates to read and comprehend.

    Apparently Indian schools do an equally poor job of teaching history. I have heard these “The British held India back” and “Britain kept India divided” tales before. As if Indians were about to discover Maxwell’s equations and the Bessemer process on their own, but the British stopped them. As if economic dominance were a matter of having the most people instead of the most power and the best technology. And as if the 500 little states that Britain gathered into the Raj and ruled for a century, just happened to decide on their own to unite themselves when the British left. What a coincidence that they all decided the very same thing, excepting the Moslem areas which became Pakistan and Bangladesh. In fact, these are the fables the Indian government tells its people to excuse the vile conditions that most of them live under. Blaming the British for India’s wretchedness is appealing I suppose, but magical thinking like that does not fit one to work in the Western, rational world.

  43. Anonymous April 16, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    As an Indian compatriot who agrees broadly with Anonymous #41, I however do wish to point out that the British could be blamed for India’s stagnant economy only till 1947, when India got her independence. Thereafter their place was taken by the Government of India itself, under Nehru’s socialistic policies which stifled India’s economy and entrepreneurship more than the British could have ever done.

    For 45 years till 1992, this was the case. Only after that did the economy open up and we have been seeing a very good growth rate ever since, for the most part.

    I imagine that had India not adopted those socialist policies at the time of independence, it would be different today to the extent that the two Germanys were just before reunification.

  44. Anonymous April 20, 2011 at 9:11 pm #


    What you comically choose to ignore is that Britain systematically stripped India of her capital during the colonial era. Industrialization was supressed to prevent competition to Britain’s manufacturing industry while India couldn’t even export her raw materials at competitive prices as the British government prevented direct foreign access to India’s markets for both importers and exporters. Britain thus because monopolistic buyers and sellers in India reaping rents and profits that a competitive market would never had afforded. Read the works of Cambridge historian Angus Madison and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen. You might just learn something!