Friday, April 9, 2010

Living a decade in Europe: Some thoughts

Courtsey-Google Images
At every scientific meeting I have attended so far in Europe I have faced a comparative question about why so many Indians come out for education, higher research and high skill jobs like doctor, engineers and lawers? The answer is obvious high population and less opportunities (things are changing in positive way). It is a joke in this part of the world that if any professor has a open job position so he must be sitting on the heap of applications from India or China. Unlike in USA which is a country of immigrants and where the trend is to invite (or buy?) best brains from all over the world (atleast till now!), in Europe laws are more stringent and emplowers are more skeptical.
I have worked in Germany and UK (see later blogs) and found that two countries have very different history and attitude towards handling high skilled labours in their lands.

History of large number high skilled labour immigration is comparatively new in Germany. Germany had not many colonies so immigration was never that big. After world war - II in order to rebuild the nation (then West Germnay) this country had to bring extra hands from countries like Italy, Turkey and Russia. But entry of PhD students, computer professionals, doctors have mainly started in last 30 years. 

To start with, in Germany, government has taken care that every legal immigrant occupying a salaried position (who pay taxes) should be provided with equal benefits like a German national. I was provided with  maternity leave (with salary), medical benefits, child benefits, unemployment benefit (for one year) and career development offers (where government fully support career development courses). German being their official language, Government also take initiatives  to provide language (highly discounted) courses to integrate the new comers in this country. Due to lack of their own high skilled people (specially in software) and multinational nature of the private industries/companies, they started accepting english speaking emloyees from the advent of globalisation era. But of course a verbal and written knowledge on German is an add-on. Government sectors like hospitals, schools, universities and council offices are strict about advanced knowledge of German for their employees as they work in national environment. Universities particularly dwell on all or none policies (changes are going on), meaning academic ladder starts from Phd, then post doc, then habilitation and finally a full professor postions. Where except a professorship all other positions are temporary, and the availability of professor's chair is very diffcult if not rare. This creates exit of not only  foreign students who come for higher studies but also many German nationals who want to stay in academics. Foreign nationals from develoing countries who after completing a higher degree in Germany wants to return back to their country of origin are provided with very good guidance for re-integration.

So in a nut shell Germany provided me a golden opportunity to dwell in science, learn a new language, visit several  EU (schengen) countries and as a whole get a glimpse of continental Europe.

But if given a choice would I have lived there for rest of my life? I don't know.

1 comment:

  1. Very well said Chandrima. But I think to get the permanent position as a Professor, a person has to go through all these stages. So, unlike Indian Policy, which offers easy way to professorship (by just clearing exams), you get professors of desired quality, experience and potential. Moreover, that's because I think professorship as a profession in Europe or in western world has acquired much more repect and reputation than in India.

    Best regards,
    Vishesh Joshi