One of the very interesting aspects of Indian culture is that there is (or used to be) a very high social respect for a "well-educated" person. So if you have a PhD, then even if you don't make a ton of money, you get the same social status as a wealthy businessman. I don't know why this is so, but it has led to nearly everyone desiring their children to have a better education than they did and escape from the grips of poverty.
There is a paragraph in Richard Feynman's "What do you care what other people think?" where a carribean cab driver asks Feynman how is it that his Indian neighbor (presumably of the same economic standing) has a son studying medicine at Maryland? Which is when Feynman explains this hypothesis.
There are still parts of India where there is tremendous social respect for "well educated" people. This can be easily seen if you observe Matrimonial ads. It would be clearly mentioned that people are looking for someone with college degrees, post graduate degrees etc.
On a tangential, I have always found matrimonial ads a very interesting mirror on the Indian society. The way these ads show people's ambitions and fears is amazing.