Before I start off, I'd like to make references to this, this and this. And this too. Now, one at a time :)
"Yes, CBSE is great(I studied in CBSE too) but it still offers far fewer choices to students than American school education does and opens up far fewer opportunities."
Choices? You don't need choices till the 10th. Learn the fundamentals of everything possible. At that point, you decide what you want to pursue, and you take up that branch going into 11th. Before you're even 16, if you're given the 'choice' to choose subjects in school, it's almost a guarantee that one will pick krapo stuff because it's easy, scoring, whatever. Hell, that already happens in the State levels with students taking up French and Sanskrit, not to learn the language, but to score more. Choice is good, but only when you're equipped to make it properly.
"What would you say about your undergrad education? best?"
Why not? As Indians who take advantage of our system to 0wn Maths and inflate our SAT/GRE scores, we look at American institutes almost exclusively from the point of return on investment. So we tend to overlook the so many community colleges all over that country, which might offer just as good an educational experience as the biggies, their only fault being that they're *not* a biggie. For all its affiliation horrors, I must say I had a most wonderful undergrad experience, and if I had to do it all over again, all I'd change is that I'd probably study harder ;)
"Admittedly the IIMs are great institutions but I would think Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and Sloan are not far behind..."
Accessibility is the key. It is the endeavour of all IIMs that no student be denied opportunity to pursue the Post-Graduate Programme in Management for want of adequate financial resources. While you might find some way later to make money, USA schools ask you for proof of financial solidity. Just how easy would it be for the IIMs to say, "Hey, you're going to be raking in the moolah by the truckloads after you graduate anyways, so suck it up and scratch along." You got a tuition waiver, I know, but gazillions don't :-p Asking you to furnish financial details is really way out man. If you can't, then what? You're stymied at the first hurdle. And I'm going to pre-empt all arguments about 'consultancies'. They charge a fairly hefty fee for their services. So looking at ROI again here, the IIMs come out trumps.
".. the Indian education system at almost all levels, is designed to make well oiled human machines that perform reliably over a long period of time. It is not designed to produce thinkers and innovators."
Was designed, not is! And what's wrong with reliability over long periods of time? Better that than burnt-out at 30. One more point here - the education system doesn't stifle anything, it's our society, which too often likes to fall back on our "culture" for anything and everything...Scene from 'Swades', anyone?
"...And that is ALL the reason you need to not choose to live in the US." -- :-)
"...You say you've lived abroad for 7 years. Why not study in the US for 2 years and then go back to that "American telco" back home?"
Eh? The point being? What's my studying abroad for 7 years got to do with anything? I studied C.B.S.E International Syllabus. I don't understand the connection between those sentences of yours...
"I'm sure your job back home would ensure you visit a lot of exotic locations. And it would take only 10 years!!!"
Eh? The point being? Once again, I don't get the connection between those sentences...are you implying that the money would be inadequate? Yeah it probably would, if I looked to fly executive-class on premium airlines, and live only the Savoys, the Carltons and the Sheratons. Dude, that's not travel, that's the high life. I like to TRAVEL, not be ferried around...
I want to wind up with one more disclaimer. I'm no great fan of the Indian education system myself, but all I'm saying is that the American system probably is equally bad, if not worse. At least here the government tries to care for education. Capitalism creeping into education is just as bad communism into business ;)