I often used to wonder how Indians with little prior access to computers became a global player in IT industry within a short span. There were multiple forces – the combined effect of which led to the explosion of IT market in India. Here I approach this from a different perspective based on my understanding of Indian culture.
Computers run on artificial (i.e. fully man-made) languages developed from scratch. There is a mathematical certainty about them – they’re supposed to be used in particular ways though there’s scope of creativity within the framework.
One may notice that beyond the root terminologies, there is nothing arbitrary in the grammar of artificial languages. On the contrary, in English we’re given to understand many arbitrary assumptions which shouldn’t be probed further. Pronunciation often varies widely with written word.
So in the history of mankind, we always had natural languages that evolved over a period of time with certain arbitrations included randomly without any logic or reason. Most languages that I know belong to this category….except – Sanskrit.
Now seriously? Sanskrit !
What has Sanskrit to do with the discussion? If you ever had learnt Sanskrit, you may not have failed to realize that there is an excellent methodology in the language.
Naming the numbers in any Indian language follow a pattern: 1-10, 11-20, 20-30 etc. Some aberrations may exist here & there. But with Sanskrit the naming of numbers follows a standard pattern. If one follows the rule, one can derive how a random number is named without ever having known it before in Sanskrit. The decimal system that is followed worldwide is India’s contribution. Hence, there is a systematic approach in this area even in Western world.
But coming to the more important aspect, Sanskrit is an artificial language. It was perfected with mathematical rigour (remember the rama ramah raman etc. 3 X 8 tables) and one needs to use the right word for each occasion. The arbitrary factor is very minimal. Sentences can be constructed in many ways as long as the mathematical formula is intact. Pronunciation doesn’t have any exceptional cases. The word needs to be pronounced exactly the way it’s written. Even a new word would be read correctly by a Sanskrit literate person without ever having prior information on same. (unlike English where prior knowledge is mandatory for many words).
Sanskrit’s grammar was improvised in stages and reached its pinnacle with Sage Panini who fine-tuned the grammar with such clarity that it was akin to machine language with no arbitrary usage or random rules.
Now, it’s true that most Indian today do not know Sanskrit. But most languages (excepting Tamil), owe their origin to Sanskrit (with Telugu being the most heavily Sanskritized language) and use similar linguistic structures.
From Sanskrit to the computer languages there were no artificial languages in the history of world.
Hence Indians could quite easily grasp computer languages better than many and without prior access to computers, owing to their psychological understanding of artificial language.
Note: I do not imply that the reason I propose is the sole/major one. Many other factors were responsible for IT growth, I have just offered a different perspective here.