Why US could lose tech edge to India

The United States may be synonymous with the high-tech revolution, but it is fast losing its edge in science and technology, fear US corporate bosses, sociologists, educators and some politicians.

Cybercities 2008, a report released by AeA, a technology industry trade association, recently warns that since the US government does not issue enough visas to talented foreigners, a huge number of hi-tech jobs remain unfilled.

The report said that the number of high-tech jobs in areas like semiconductors, software, computer design, Internet, etc are at below 2001 levels.

American experts have been citing 20 steps that the United States should take to maintain its global lead. Check out what these are. . .

What worsens the problem for the US is that American colleges do not seem to be churning out enough graduates capable of filling these vacancies, and thus a large numbers of these prime jobs are lost to other countries.

As a proactive measure to keep America from losing out to emerging powers like India and China in the technology field, a US panel some time ago sounded a warning and suggested ways to maintain its dominant position in science and technology.

India and China are fast emerging as the real hi-tech centres that can challenge the US hegemony in the field of technology.

The reasons cited for the growth of India as a tech power are that it has sacrifice and talent, there’s a strong value of creativity, and there is direct/indirect help in financing technological activity and companies. Capital is available for technology, and there is awareness of the change in the global IT food chain.

Experts say that these are some indicators that illustrate why US needs to take decisive action now:

  • For the cost of one chemist or one engineer in the United States, a company can hire about five chemists in China or 11 engineers in India.
  • Last year chemical companies shuttered 70 facilities in the United States and have tagged 40 more for closure. Of 120 chemical plants being built around the world with price tags of $1 billion or more, one is in the United States and 50 are in China.
  • US 12th-graders recently performed below the international average for 21 countries on a test of general knowledge in mathematics and science. In addition, an advanced mathematics assessment was administered to students in 15 other countries who were taking or had taken advanced math courses, and to US students who were taking or had taken pre-calculus, calculus, or Advanced Placement calculus. Eleven countries outperformed the United States, and four scored similarly. None scored significantly below the US.
  • In 1999, only 41 per cent of US eighth-graders had a math teacher who had majored in mathematics at the undergraduate or graduate level or studied the subject for teacher certification — a figure that was considerably lower than the international average of 71 per cent.
  • Last year more than 600,000 engineers graduated from institutions of higher education in China. In India, the figure was 350,000. In America, it was about 70,000.
  • In 2001 US industry spent more on tort litigation than on research and development.

10,000 teachers, 10 million minds

  • Increase America’s talent pool by vastly improving K-12 mathematics and science education.
  • Among the recommended implementation steps is the creation of a merit-based scholarship program to attract 10,000 exceptional students to math and science teaching careers each year. Four-year scholarships, worth up to $20,000 annually, should be designed to help some of the nation’s top students obtain bachelor’s degrees in physical or life sciences, engineering, or mathematics — with concurrent certification as K-12 math and science teachers.
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