Cost of an American Education – An International Perspective

When my father came from Singapore to the US in the 1970s to attend college, the exchange rate was 1 USD to 5 SGD. When I started my freshman year in 2004, the exchange rate was 1 USD to 1.6 SGD. Today, the rate has dropped to 1 USD to 1.2 SGD. By this measure, the cost of a US education has become much cheaper over the years.

There are any factors at play here. Mahmood was quick to point out that in the1970s the nation of Singapore was a very new country and we should really be comparing PPP. But I wonder, if we normalize the numbers, how does this look?


Two India Innovation Articles today

New York Times

A Winning Formula for Hard Economic Times
Published: July 23, 2010
“MUMBAI — This is a tale of two Indian vehicles — the Jaguar and the jugaad.

The former is one of the world’s finest cars, once a strictly British product, now owned by Tata Motors of India. The XJL Supersport, which can cost upward of $100,000, comes with a 510-horsepower engine, massaging seats, mood lighting, a hard drive and electric rear blinds.

Then there is the jugaad (pronounced jew-gaar), which is nothing like a Jaguar.

It is, for one thing, illegal: a truck tossed together, saladlike, in the sheds of northern India, beyond regulators’ view. Parts from old jeeps are cut and welded and combined with wooden planks to form a chassis. An engine commonly used for irrigation pumps is attached.

Actual bells and whistles may be added as adornments, and the wheels are painted by hand.

The truck gives India’s village dwellers a cheap ride: 10 cents for a half-hour journey with a few dozen others. So compelling is their business logic that jugaads have become popular in dowries.

The truck may be obscure, but the culture behind it is now a management fad. Jugaad, not as noun but as verb, is suddenly the talk of consulting firms like McKinsey and companies like Best Buy in the United States.

The slang Hindi verb “jugaad,” as translated for managers, means to make something much like a jugaad. It is to be innovative despite scarcity — a winning formula for hard economic times. Management gurus cite India’s ultra-low-cost creations as inspiration: the $800 electrocardiogram, the $24 water filter, the $2,500 car, the $100 electricity inverter, the $12 solar lamp.

But these represent only a sliver of what jugaad is. It is more than frugal innovation; jugaad is a way of life, here as elsewhere, that has anticipated important movements of the 21st century, from open-source technology to cultural fusion. From years of observation in India, some core tenets emerge, many of use beyond the business world.”

China Daily

India unveils prototype of $35 tablet computer
Updated: 2010-07-23 21:23
“MUMBAI, India – It looks like an iPad, only it’s 1/14th the cost: India has unveiled the prototype of a US$35 basic touchscreen tablet aimed at students, which it hopes to bring into production by 2011.

If the government can find a manufacturer, the Linux operating system-based computer would be the latest in a string of “world’s cheapest” innovations to hit the market out of India, which is home to the 100,000 rupee (US$2,127) compact Nano car, the 749 rupees (US$16) water purifier and the US$2,000 open-heart surgery.

The tablet can be used for functions like word processing, web browsing and video-conferencing. It has a solar power option too – important for India’s energy-starved hinterlands – though that add-on costs extra.

“This is our answer to MIT’s US$100 computer,” human resource development minister Kapil Sibal told the Economic Times when he unveiled the device Thursday.”