Pop! Go The Figures


Facts circulated in Parliament on Monday seemed too good to be true. They were ridiculously boasting of a reality which, frankly speaking, is hard to believe. Consider this: according to the fact sheet circulated in the Rajya Sabha, 38 per cent of the doctors in the United States of America are Indians, as are 36 per cent NASA scientists and 34 per cent of Microsoft employees. The government has undoubtedly made a laughing stock of itself. Both Microsoft and NASA do not maintain an ethnic head count but acknowledge that, while the number of employees of Indian origin is large, it is hardly in the range 30-35 per cent. These organizations throw up the numbers of 20 per cent of employees being of Indian origin in the engineering section of the Microsoft. However, the same is not true for the overall count of company’s employees. Furthermore, 4-5 per cent of employees working in NASA are of Indian origin. Moreover, only 10 per cent of U.S doctors are Indians. The genesis of the discrepancy took place because the parliament indirectly relied on the figures given by an internet chain mail that has been in circulation for many years.

There has, in fact, been no survey of this kind and hence the figures are not actually available. It is a shame that such a huge discrepancy could creep into the official facts. Hence, it was shocking to read in the news one day that such figures were distributed in the Rajya Sabha,and, it was even more shocking to read the next day that the figures were false. It highlights inefficiency on the part of the bureaucracy more than that on the part of the government. However, even the press is becoming too critical in its approach, printing the news on the front page and exaggerating the issue. Keeping in mind that it is rather unexpected of the government, (especially at an important level where credibility is a prerequisite to behave in this manner). the context of the discussion on these facts also should be taken into consideration while forming opinions. Although diaspora concerns form an important part of our national interest, it shouldn’t be given so much importance in light of the many other critical events which need attention.

In retrospect, the misleading figures given by the internet site also demand introspection. Perhaps the optimism beaming at the Indian economy and the success stories of the Non Resident Indians reflect in those figures. It is saying too much that a little over two-third doctors in US are of Indian origin. It is being blindly happy and predicting figures based on a sepulchral view of Indians doing well in the US. They are doing well, no doubt but exaggerating the truth just gives a momentary bout of happiness to the people back home. This is why such chain mails start doing the rounds online.

It feels nice to be an Indian and notice the change in attitude of foreigners towards us. However, is it really helping us if we maintain this psychology? It is a question to be analyzed. Should we keep gloating over inflated figures and not reflect over the figures cursing the Indian economy?

Himadri Agarwal

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