Business, Entrepreneurs

Why don’t Indian tech companies grow as big as Google, Microsoft or Apple?

With about 1,000,000 engineers graduating every year in India, India is still very far from being called the engineering hub of the world. Inspite of so many tech MNCs and startups operating in urban cities of Gurgaon, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Noida. None of the cities is worthy to be compared to the Silicon Valley (San Francisco Bay Area). India is much far behind from United States and China in the number of Unicorn startups.

There’re certainly two major problems, Indian tech ecosystem is currently facing to build a conglomerate like Google, Microsoft or Amazon.

  • 80% of Indian engineers are not fit for jobs. (as per a 2019 report) [1]
  • Indian engineering educational curriculum is outdated.
Let’s understand why is it so?

My Experience

Tech college

I have graduated with a degree in computer engineering from a government college in India with one of the best brains of the country. But this is what I’ve noticed (some of the points are specific to computer science students):

  • Students attend classes not to learn the subject but for mere attendance.
  • Getting a backlog in a subject is okay as long as it doesn’t interfere with your eligibility to sit for interviews in placement season.
  • For acing college examinations you don’t need to have a good understanding of the subject but rather a good memory. Students who could cram thick books in a short span of time usually end up as department rank holders or as we used to call them DRs.
  • Programming taught in colleges have minimal or no relation to the programming done in real world –
    software companies.
  • Most of the assignments and projects (even the programming) given by the professors are copied by the students from the internet or from seniors.
  • Most faculty members (including professors and lab assistants) have no idea of what they’re teaching apart from having enough knowledge to complete the lab experiments and give notes to pass the examination. They just know how to: “GET THE SH** DONE!” and expect the same from you.
  • Most of the semesters are piled with the examinations, test and unnecessary activities (which are just as good as to gain course credits) that you end up with no time left for extra-curricular, internships or personality development activities. As a result you don’t get to learn anything useful or of value during your college years from yourself.
  • Programming in (most of the) Indian colleges is restricted to competitive programming. I’ve nothing against competitive programming but it has nothing to do with programming required to build Apps, Websites or Softwares. (No doubt, it teaches you the basics of Data Structures (DS) & Algorithms.)
  • Again this point also might offend many. But programming interviews for junior software engineer positions also expect you to solve similar problems as people solve on competitive programming platforms like SPOJ, Codeforces, TopCoder, Codechef or Hackerrank.

“Indian Engineers are more concerned about placements than actually learning stuff.”

tech interview

As I’ve already explained above the situation and ‘hunger to learn’ of Indian engineering students. Let’s get to know about their ‘hunger to crack placements’.

Students and even many professional software engineers (again this is very specific to programming interviews for freshers or junior engineering positions) start cramming DS & Algo problems’ solutions from tutorial websites (GeeksforGeeks, Careercup) before the placement season and interviews. And this is also the reason for you seeing so many programming interview training institutes mushrooming everyday. Most of these placement training institutes teach you to learn the code of basic 40 or 50 problems that’ll be enough to crack the tech interviews of “FAANG”. This might be stereotypical but with great memorising competence, most of the Indian software engineers could easily memorise and grasp surprisingly large number of coding solutions.

Talking of competitive programming mania among Indians:

I recently read about Indian coders sharing competitive programming solutions over Telegram to showcase 5* rank on the likes of Codechef, Hackerrank and Codeforces. And then expecting to land an interview by highlighting that in their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. And this has resulted in backlash towards Indians over certain programming forums.

“Indian Educational Institutions are well-equipped for producing good employees but not good entrepreneurs.”

IIT

Not the same old cribbing about faculty not talking about innovations, research and development. But the problem’s a little more deep. Most of the students are more than satisfied with their $200k package in US and a much hyped “better standard of living.” While others who doesn’t care much about money or actually want to make a change, lack confidence and don’t have enough resources to quit their 9-to-5 job. Sometimes societal rules of getting married before 30 or being the sole-earner of the family pressurise and inhibit the individuals from taking the final jump.

Moreover,

People are not honest towards themselves and their work — problem of a typical middle class in the life’s struggle for money. You have to put the food on the table before thinking about making it big. Unless we uplift the destitute sections of society and make the basic necessities of life available and affordable for everyone, we cannot and shouldn’t expect Indian entrepreneurs, start-ups and unicorns to be in par with their western counterparts. Because that’s plain naive. The starting line for a Caucasian and an Indian are different. For an Indian to reach the same stage as the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and, Elon Musk, will come at a greater price and sacrifice.

Footnotes

[1] https://www.businesstoday.in/current/corporate/indian-engineers-tech-jobs-survey-80-per-cent-of-indian-engineers-not-fit-for-jobs-says-survey/story/330869.html