PIO University – what about PSLIs ?
PSLI = Persons Still Living in India
When I started this blog, I resolved I would not fall into snarkiness. However, I dont know if I can stay cool in the face of outrageous policies such as the SEZ – the most egregious spawn of which is the proposed PIO University. See my earlier post on the PIO University.
Look what our president said the other day –
PIO University on the anvil – Kalam
New Delhi, Feb. 23 (PTI): The Government is working on a proposal to establish a university for people of Indian-origin (PIO) in the country, President A P J Abdul Kalam said today.
The Government would take steps to encourage a “reverse brain drain” so that some of the brightest and talented children of the country return here, he said in his address to a joint sitting of Parliament marking the start of the budget session.
“We are now working on a proposal to establish a PIO University in India,” he said.
The President said that the government had paid special attention to the protection and welfare of overseas Indian workers, especially those in West Asia and the Gulf.
PIO vs NRI ?
A PIO is a “person of indian origin” – he need not be an Indian citizen or even born in India. If either of a kids parents, or grandparents, or even great grandparents were Indian – he is a PIO. See here for more. An NRI is an Indian citizen who is just abroad on a visa (temporary such as H1B or permanent such as a Green Card). Let us be clear we are talking about PIOs here.
What about PSLI (Persons Still Living in India) ?
Do they have enough avenues for higher education ? Are we so developed and burdened with over capacity that we can patronize kids of other much advanced countries ? What is the obligation for India to meet the requirments of foreign citizens (okay brown foreigners) ?
Whats the realitycheck here ?
Since this blog is all about opening up the kimono, lets figure out where the demand for this university is coming from.
Here is my guess, the powerful desi lobby in the USA wants avenues for pre-med education for kids who fail to make it to American schools. Some go to the Caribbean , but ideally they would like to send them to India. These “rich bhangra kids” can stretch their dollars in India, easily get admissions here (because they dont have to compete with the wretched locals), and while they are at it – they get a feel for “Indian culture”. After their nice little jaunt here, they can go back to find a position at a hospital in Chicago or Pittsburgh. A bonus is if they can find a nice Indian girls to hang out with while they are here (should be quite easy because foreign desis can easily dominate the party scene here).
Is the above scenario true ? Probably not ! I exagerrate. There are a lot of desis in the Gulf , Nigeria , Malaysia who are in construction, welding, and odd jobs.
Should the Indian government look after them ?
My answer is an emphatic NO !! This is a classic bait and switch tactic that is used by the government in the social sector (use beggars and low castes as poster material but frame policies to benefit the rich landlords).
1 >> The welders, construction workers, are mostly NRIs (rarely PIOs)
2 >> The kids and even wife of these workers mostly live in India. You see, they are saving up as much as they can.
In any case, immigration of all these people is purely voluntary. Most of the PSLI kids (people still living in india) would give anything to study in schools with equivalent quality even in Malaysia, Doha, Dubai, Nigeria, etc. The PIOs must factor education for kids before taking up foreign assignments. The government cannot pick up the slack for them, atleast not until the “PSLI” kids have enough higher education opportunities.
Best and brightest , really ?
In his address to the joint session, Kalam claimed :
reverse brain drain” so that some of the brightest and talented children of the country return here
Reality Check to President Kalam :
Your PIO University will only be the last refuge for all desi kids who did not make it to *any* American/Canadian/UK med school. You forget that Indian American kids are actually Americans. They live in America for a reason, their parents chose to live in a country that rocked !
One more thing, the reverse brain drain aint going to happen. The best and brightest PIO desis (from any country) still aspire to go to MIT, Johns Hopkins, or even to UC San Luis Obispo. The desparate ones who fail to make it would like to go to Anitlles, Bahamas, or other Caribbean med schools. Guess who will come to our PIO University ?
The PIO University is not going to encourage a “reverse brain drain” – it is only going to ensure a “reverse drain”.
First take care of PSLI – then worry about PIOs. Last time I checked, the United States, UK, EU, Middle East, Malaysia are taking really good care of Indians. So much so, our Indians break into a sweat at the thought of losing their citizenship.
Prove me wrong
If the government is sincere and if it wants to help welders in Selangor, Al Burj, or Nigeria – then they should do the following:
- Bar kids from America, Canada, and all EU countries.
- Make it a NRI university instead of a PIO university. Remember, an NRI is an Indian Citizen so at least there is an Indian getting educated.
- If you want to admit foreign nationals (PIOs) – then make it a truly international university. We have a better chance of attracting talented westerners than talented desis. Do not discriminate on the basis of brown skin colour.
- Admit minimum 80% locals ( I think Mr Vayalar Ravi said earlier that only 20-25% would be for “native dwellers”). Turn it around.
- Lets face it – the whole deal is about Medical education. Let us have a PIO University without a Medical School. Does anyone want to bet how many would enroll ?
At the moment however, I am putting my money of the rich-bhangra-punk-desi-american kid from Virginia who failed to make it either in the US or in the Caribbean.