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Computing, Libraries, Tennis, India & other interests of Vikas Kamat

What is Quality of Life?

Background: Of late, it has become fashionable in India to introduce young children to Microsoft and Cisco certifications.

Links: This (story at IndiaInfo on a ten year old child obtaining Cisco networking certification) and this (five year old get Microsoft certification)

If you read these stories, you know that this is not the case of child labor in India that gets so much media attention in the West.

The following conversation ensued between my close circle of friends after reading this news (who are all from India, all holding top management positions (Presidents, CEO, or Vice-presidents, some living in India, some living in USA). I am protecting their names, since that is not important here (and I have not had their consent to publish private emails)

GM Good to encourage young people to go for technology oriented careers. At least in India we put the right kind of people up on a pedestal. I would much rather see a young person like this be given some press coverage and fame rather than someone who can play good basketball like it happens as in USA.
Me I can't believe you are saying this.

This is the *precise* problem in India -- myopic thinking. That's why among a billion people, there are no basketball players or pianists, but have a million Microsoft or Cisco certified engineers.

Let me ask you. Do you want your son to become a Cisco certified engineer, a Nobel Laureate or Champion Golfer? A child who is asked to take such meaningless courses or exams can never blossom into an extraordinary mind.
GM The bottom line is that these techies generate $60Billion in foreign exchange for a country that is struggling to survive. I am sorry but if all the basketball players, pianists and artists drop off the face of this world, it would not make a damn bit of difference to most of us. We will have a few missing pictures, less music to listen to and probably figure out another form of entertainment than watching a basketball game. I think we should be putting people who are in the forefront of research that would make a difference in our quality of life up on pedestals and paying them millions instead of these idiot basketball players and pianists that in my opinion are parasites on society. It was OK in the middle ages when there was not a whole lot to do. Art, music and sports have value and a lot to teach but should be a hobby for people who thoroughly enjoy them. I do not think it is appropriate to pay someone millions of dollars simply because he can put a ball in a basket better than most of us. On the contrary, I think it is appropriate to pay someone a million dollars because they are about to uncover a potential cure for diabetes. So, what I am saying is that as a society, we have our priorities out of order because of the impact the media has on our lives. 

As for my son, I would like him to make a significant impact on the quality of life of the society he lives in. Essentially, leave the world a better place than it was when he came in to it. And, that is not going to happen by putting some pretty pictures on a wall !!

VP I think the fundamental question is how you define "quality of life"? From GM's world, quality of life pertains to having good health, food, and personal stuff. I believe quality of life exceeds just good health. It will be really a boring place, if everyone is healthy, has lots of food, and lots of money, but no entertainment, which brings the "fun value" to life. The issue is when some one attaches more value to "fun" things than "core health" and that is the question at hand...

Unfortunately, "fun" stuff is very tangible and people seem to pay for it. I see people paying $100/- and spend half day to go to a concert than spend the money towards improving their health. Media is using that to push more "fun" things than "healthy" things. Other than very few, no one watches health channel on TV. Every one watches the fun things, because it makes you happy. Pursuit of happiness is all that matters for all of us as living beings.
CEO I feel what people in India want is completely different from US. Here it is about getting food on the table [including me]. In US, that part is taken for granted.

However, one needs entertainment as VP mentions [I thought Unix was his only entertainment, anyway good to see he has matured ;-- )]. I personally have been INSPIRED by NBA. I like the way they FIGHT till the last 1/10th of a second. They never ever give up. That fighting spirit wasn't there in India until recently, and perhaps the reason why we didn't excel.

I am publishing the above conversation to provide different perspectives of a news item. While I personally think that India can ill afford space missions, I realize that if India had the tools the US has, smuggler Veerappan would have been caught a long time ago, and India needn't blame every problem on cross-border terrorism.





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