The cofounder of tech giant Apple Steve Wozniak has ruffled some feathers in India by suggesting its education system lacks creativity.
The technology veteran, who is also known as “Woz” and is now Chief Scientist at data virtualisation firm Primary Data, made the comments while attending the The Economic Times Global Business Summit 2018 in New Delhi.
“The culture here is one of success based upon academic excellence, studying, learning, practising and having a good job and a great life. For upper India, not the lower. I see two Indias,” Woz told Indian newspaper the Economic Times in an interview.
“That’s a lot like Singapore study, study, work hard and you get an MBA, you will have a Mercedes but where is the creativity? The creativity gets left out when your behaviour is too predictable and structured, everyone is similar.”
“Look at a small country like New Zealand, the writers, singers, athletes, it’s a whole different world,” he added.
Asked whether India was capable of producing a “global tech company”, Wozniak said: “I am not an anthropologist and I don’t know the culture of India well enough. I don’t see those big advances in tech companies.”
“What is the biggest tech company here, Infosys maybe? I just don’t see that sort of thing coming out of Infosys and I have done keynotes for them three times.”
Wozniak’s comments understandably drew criticism from many Indian netizens.
Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Indian business giant Mahindra Group, tweeted: “I love it when such comments are made. Nothing like a sweeping stereotype to get our juices flowing & prove it wrong. Thanks @stevewoz Come back soon. We’ll make you sing a different tune…”
Steve Wozniak hasn't heard about #JUGAAD?!!! Sure it takes a lot of creativity to develop $1,000 iPhone but how useful is it when 70% of humanity lives on $10 a day?!
Unlike Silicon Valley, in India, we use creativity (jugaad) to address real social needs https://t.co/RbdrFJBw3g
— Navi Radjou (@NaviRadjou) February 28, 2018
Steve Wozniak was quite brutal in his assessment of India's do called intellectual capital. A Prof of mine at Wellingkar told us that back in 1999.
He started with 'All of you are fit to become corporate coolies'.
— Subhash Pais (@Subhash_ati9) February 28, 2018
But others agreed with his comments, with Rahuj Raj tweeting: “Wozniak mentions that India’s educational system is rigid and does not allow creativity to thrive. Our education system is currently plagued with too many exams. Children are taught how to pass exams, and not how to use knowledge to move ahead in life.”
An opinion piece by Pathikrit Sanyal in Daily O also agreed argued that “From an early age, students are taught to accept information, without question. They are discouraged from disagreeing with what is presented.”
“Students are taught, through demonstration, what happens to those who choose to think outside the box. They score less, fail in exams, and their inquisitive spirit is crushed by mindnumbing examinations and the social stigma of not being able to “perform” as well as peers,” he wrote.