For a number of years, I've been largely alone in raising the question of just how deep are the supplies of high IQ people in India. There are a billion people in India, but how many of them are smart enough to become, say, American-quality systems analysts? Are they evenly distributed throughout the vast population or are they concentrated in certain castes and regions that have already been well-exploited?
India is way too complicated for me to provide an answer to these questions, but there is a certain amount of evidence that suggests that India has a much more divergent IQ distribution than China, so that the widespread American assumption of an unlimited supply of high IQ workers in India may be faulty.
Now the NY Times reports that smart workers are in short supply in India:
Skills Gap Hurts Technology Boom in India
As its technology companies soar to the outsourcing skies, India is bumping up against an improbable challenge. In a country once regarded as a bottomless well of low-cost, ready-to-work, English-speaking engineers, a shortage looms.
India still produces plenty of engineers, nearly 400,000 a year at last count. But their competence has become the issue.
A study commissioned by a trade group, the National Association of Software and Service Companies, or Nasscom, found only one in four engineering graduates to be employable. The rest were deficient in the required technical skills, fluency in English or ability to work in a team or deliver basic oral presentations.
Is this temporary or is it the beginning of a permanent problem for India. I don't know, but it's an important question. As I wrote in 2002 in my review of Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen's IQ and the Wealth of Nations:
The IQ structures of the two giga-countries, China and India, demand more intense study, in part because the future history of the world will hinge in no small part on their endowments of human capital. The demography of India is especially complex due to its caste system, which resembles Jim Crow on steroids and acid. By discouraging intermarriage, caste has subdivided the Indian people into an incredible number of micro-races. In India, according to the dean of population genetics, L.L. Cavalli-Sforza, "The total number of endogamous communities today is around 43,000…" We know that some of those communities - such as the Zoroastrian Parsees of Bombay - are exceptionally intelligent.
But we can't say with any confidence what is the long run IQ potential of Indians overall. Their current IQ score (81) is low, especially compared to China (100), the other country with hundreds of millions of poor peasants. Yet, keep in mind just how narrow life in rural India was for so long.
As I wrote in VDARE.com in 2004 in "Interesting India, Competitive China:"
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the variance in IQ is greater in India than in China. There may be more geniuses in India than in China but the average level of competence seems lower.
However, putting together a nationally-representative sample is harder in India than anywhere else on Earth. The caste system, by discouraging intermarriage, has in effect subdivided the Indian people into an incredible number of micro-races...
So I would keep an open mind on just what the IQ of India is. And, of course, better nutrition, health care, education, and more outbreeding could all work to raise it.
China focuses on giving the masses a solid basic education that prepares them for manufacturing jobs. The Chinese are building superb infrastructure to support their manufacturing economy. Indeed, the Chinese are building factories so fast, that more than a few observers have joked and/or warned that the Chinese intend in the future to manufacture everything in the world. They won't ever quite get there, but the trend is remarkable … and alarming.
This could have dire consequences for America's current political and military hegemony. But the cult of free trade, combined with the fact that nobody in the American media cares about factory work, means that the long-term Chinese challenge is seldom discussed. You might think that if America had to shed manufacturing jobs, we would prefer they go to Mexico to keep down the illegal immigration rate rather than to China, America's strategic competitor. But no one seems to care enough to discuss this either.
If the Mexican political elite wasn't so inveterately anti-American, they would have proposed a grand bargain to Washington: America would raise tariffs on Chinese goods, sending Wal-Mart to NAFTA-partner Mexico for its endless appetite for cheap stuff, in return for Mexico whole-heartedly supporting American's foreign policy. If Tony Blair is President Bush's poodle, then Vicente Fox should have become President Bush's Chihuahua in return for lots of manufacturing jobs.
India, outside of cyberspace, remains chaotic and impoverished. India focuses more on giving outstanding university educations to the meritocratic elite. The top Indian colleges are by now probably the most selective in the world.
And because they teach in English, their graduates are more of a competitive threat to American journalists and their spouses and friends than are the Chinese, who are merely hammering blue collar Americans. And who cares about them?
Accordingly, over the last year, the press has devoted far more coverage to outsourcing white collar jobs to India than the loss of blue collar jobs to China—or, of course, the insourcing of jobs in America to immigrants, legal and illegal.
Apparently, reporters instinctively sense that Indians in Bombay could do their jobs of rewriting press releases into news articles.
This is exactly the kind of issue that business magazine should be covering for their executive readers, but the ban on the dread letters "IQ" makes that unthinkable.