Indian Students in Tech Elite

“It has really been a dream come true for all of us.” Aranya Choudhury probably never imagined he would stand inside the most advanced high-energy physics research facility ever created.  The Large Hadron Collider became operational on 10th September 2008, and Choudhury, 20 years old, was one of 11 Indian undergraduate students selected to spend 8 to 13 weeks there as an intern, rubbing shoulders with some of the brightest minds of our time.

For the uninitiated, LHC is essentially a 27-kilometre-long tunnel concealed beneath Switzerland.  It’s the flagship project of CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) and is designed to smash the tiniest known particles into each other with the intention of, among other things, recreating the conditions present at what we call The Big Bang.  As a layman, perusing documents and articles explaining why it came into being, who brought it to fruition and what potential discoveries it may trigger visions of a sentient technology that could finally bring about the human apocalypse à la the Terminator or Matrix films.  “The Large Hadron Collider begins to learn at a geometric rate.  It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, December 7th.  In a panic, we try to pull the plug.”  Something like that.

Who Wants To Be An NRI?

My first full-time job was at a BP petrol station in a heavily immigrant-populated suburb in Auckland, NZ.  Fresh out of high school and with two months to kill before heading down south for university, there was no way my mum would let me lounge around the house all summer, so off I went into the bottom end of the job market.  The staff were a wonderful motley crew – under a Sri Lankan manager were a few seen-it-all Kiwis, a couple of Chinese, a Saudi, a Pakistani and another new high school graduate like me.

By far the largest complement, however, were the NRI boys; among them a fresher from Hyderabad, a family man from Delhi, a quiet Tamil and a cricket-obsessed Punjabi.  I knew from the proliferation of Indian restaurants and South Asian faces behind convenience store counters that the ongoing influx of NRIs was, by the standards of NZ’s tiny population, an explosion.  I hadn’t actually found myself in a position to interact with them in any meaningful way, though; NZ’s changing ethnic makeup remained something about which I had little understanding.  Until, that is, the day I joined BP.

…read more at The NRI…