Opinion: Indian-bred success?


Sanjana Iyer is a sophomore Fashion Merchandising major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].   

Sanjana Iyer

After I received the news last week that Microsoft appointed a new Chief Executive Officer who happened to be Indian, I spent the next few days observing the different ways that people around the world were reacting to it.

My mother, having worked in Microsoft for the last few years, was overjoyed. In fact, most Indians initially reacted with pride and joy. And why wouldn’t they? After all, one of our own stepped into the driver’s seat of Microsoft—it was a wonderful feeling of validation.

But after the initial celebration had passed, some started to wonder if this was actually a slap in the face for the Indian system.

Satya Nadella, current CEO of Microsoft, reached this pinnacle of success after having spent years of his life working here in the United States. He was raised in India, earned a degree from an Indian University but spent the majority of his career here.

A big question that came to mind was: would he have achieved the same level of success if he had worked in India?

 Some believe India does not present a supportive platform for citizens to truly realize their potential, as a result of its overwhelmingly increasing competition. I am made aware of this every time I return home for the holidays.  India is evolving constantly, but the mindset of beating one’s opponents always seems to be more relevant than actually honing one’s own skills.

Ever since I was a little girl, all I heard around me was, ‘Work hard and do the best in class,’ or ‘you have to get the highest score!’ Competition was so fierce, even for children as young as ten.  Everyone wanted to get ahead of everyone else, and children are still being programmed that way today.

While it is a very good thing to work on your skills, what the Indian system fails to realize is that not everybody has the same set of skills. There is much less room for pursuing your interests, understanding what you are actually good at and deciding what you actually want to pursue as a career. We are often encouraged to grow up and “make money,” but only a few lucky ones are encouraged to go after what they are truly passionate about.

India has a diverse pool of individuals who are all very inspired and yet find themselves feeling helpless and discouraged from pursuing what makes their hearts sing.

In my opinion, the most prominent sign of a society’s progress is the presence of citizens who are dedicated to honing their skills and pursuing their individual interests as a means of success, rather than simply trying to beat their opponent. But with India’s growing youth and advances in social networking, it is only a matter of time before the desire to be secure and validated will be overshadowed by the desire to actually achieve their dreams.