Tag Archive for 'Deccan Chronicle'

Strategy for a STEM Work Force for India

Thomas Friedman in his report titled ” Pass the books . Hold the Oil ”  in the New York Times [ reproduced by Deccan Chronicle today ] praises Taiwan-  a country with hardly any natural resources and yet becoming the fourth largest financial reserves in the World . This status has been achieved not by mining any natural resources but by mining its 23 million people , their talent ,energy and intelligence ! He also talks about the PISA [ Program for International student Assessment] Examination scores in OECD [ Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ] Countries and the correlation with lack of natural resources in those countries with higher PISA scores.

We have a great lesson in India from this observation. As of now , India is enjoying a great demographic dividend in having about 60 percent of the population with a median age of  26 or around – Ideal target group for talent mining and development . Dr V K Saraswat ,  the  Scientific Adviser to the Defense Minister of India  recently made a plea for revamping our Education system based on the so called STEM  methodology , STEM being an acronym for Science , Technology , Engineering and Mathematics . He advocates this initiative from the secondary school level to prepare a future work force based on STEM .

Thomas Friedman also quotes his friend K R Sridhar founder of the Silicon Valley fuel cell company Bloom Energy who said “when you don’t have resources , you become resourceful ” . A very relevant comment for the Indian Talent pool .

The World in Denial – Focus on the Unknown Knowns

I read with interest an article by Geoffrey Wheatcroft published in New York Times and reproduced in Deccan Chronicle today titled ” A world in denial of what it knows ” .

From the Mayan prophesies of the world ending on 21st Dec 2012 to the intermediate stages towards this scenario like global warming , tsunami , nuclear disasters , forest fires , hurricanes , climate changes ,genetic disorders , massive deforestation , biological epidemics , and even large scale political upheavals , wars , cultural conflicts all stare at us and ask us to take note before it is too late !!.

During the last decade , the world was also in a state of denial about  financial melt downs , collapse of the Euro Zone , the rise of communist capitalism in China , global terrorism , the Arab Spring and other middle east popular uprisings , and the rise of middle class in the developing countries .

We have no dearth of  Thought Leaders but they do not focus conveniently on the so called ” Unknown Known ” of the decision theory to prevent global disasters – mostly man made and preventable .

According to Geoffrey Wheatcroft , unknown knowns are things that are not all inevitable and are easily knowable or indeed known but people chose to “unknow” . To save this world from future disasters , we need to heavily focus on these “Unknown Knowns ” .

 

A Black Hole Experience for the Netizens ?

I thank the Deccan Chronicle for publishing today under arrangements with the New York Times a brilliant article by Pico Iyer titled ” The Joy of Quiet ” . It is so timely and relevant to today’s 24 by 7 connected world thanks to the internet , cloud computing , media and wi-fi technologies .

Pico Iyer , the famous author and thought leader gives us many escape routes and tips to avoid the tyranny and stress of the “connected world ” . The Intel Example of quiet Tuesday hours for their employees to clear their heads and hear themselves think, the expensive “black hole ” resorts in Big Spur where there is no TV or internet in the rooms , the Internet rescue camps in South Korea and China , the concept of Freedom Software which enables disabling Internet are all very interesting developments to combat the ills of connectivity .

The moral of the story is that one needs to take a break from the highly stressful connected life to unplug , unwind and rejuvenate one’s mind and body once in awhile .Enforcing the net silence , or becoming not accessible to net contacts  ,  or creative diversions and enjoying the nature without any digital encumbrances will be good in the long run for all busy executives .

62nd Anniversary of the Indian Republic – State of the Nation

Indian republic is 62 today – celebrations and re-dedications are  evident everywhere as is the norm along with ceremonial parades and show of strength for the whole world to watch . But – it is a very large BUT – there is unusually prominent pessimism in the general public this year .

A cartoon in the center page of the Deccan Chronicle by Sudhir Telang today captures  the mood and may be the ” State of the Nation ” with understandable  sarcasm – It shows all the scam scarred politicians and bureaucrats on top of  an elephant duly garlanded and the mahout being the Prime Minister of India with the caption  ”  Brave Children  ” drawing a parallel to the yearly parading of children who are bestowed with bravery awards on the occasion of the Republic Day .

In a recent interactive meeting organized by the CII [ Confederation of India Industries ] with all political parties to discuss growth strategies for the State of Andhra Pradesh , one politician stated that while the Central Government is on ICU [ Intensive Care Unit] , the state Government of AP is on a ventilator – very strong comment coming from a spokesperson of the regional party which was in power not long ago in the state for two full terms.

What has caused these perceptions or reality ? . A variety of factors – Most important reason is the ”  Trust Gap ” perceived by the general public due to corruption in all walks of life . The second one may be ” political brinkmanship ” keeping party and family loyalties above national priorities . Instead of  ” Performance with Purpose ” , we have neither performance nor purpose . Lastly serious erosion of social values due to nepotism , rigging of the electoral process and growth of black money all have created a ” value shift ” threatening to destroy the very fabric that is INDIA .

Do we say on this day -Enough !!. Let us change and that too fast enough by isolating the criminals and exposing their deeds in public , overhaul the democratic process to bring back sanity and order and work for an ” Inclusive Economic progress ” through home grown solutions using technology and innovation . A pledge like that will bring a needed meaning to the Republic which is now matured .

The Indian Republic at 60 – Focus for the Future

I am a great fan of Sudhir  Tailang – the cartoonist for Deccan Chronicle . His cartoon today in that newspaper depicting the state of Indian Economy  on the 60 th Republic day shows a tableau of a common man lying prostrate on a platform  with a national flag in hand and crushed under the weight of bags of sugar , wheat ,  pulses  and other essential food stuff [indicating price rise] . What a subtle way of drawing a balance sheet for the country which claims to have achieved economic liberalization  during the last two decades with near double digit growth every year?

Today , we can boast of  a telecom revolution , a booming service industry globally connected , great strides in space research and foreign exchange reserves along with food surpluses stored at high costs . But then , why do prices of essential food stuff go up and why do more than 60 percent of our rural population live below poverty line ? .

While I welcome  the steps taken in the nineties to open the country to market liberalization and foreign investments , I feel we neglected the agricultural section and rural India at the cost of massive urbanization and privatization of Industry. The non-inclusive nature of our growth brought in great urban – rural divide and fissures creating in suicide by farmers or spread of Naxalites and Maoists in some parts of India .  The technological advances have also did not address the rural sector adequately and there is marked drop in food production in the country.

It looks like even the Bretton Woods  Institutions [World Bank and IMF ] have  influenced our decision making process in favor of urbanization at the cost of Indian agriculture growth.

What do we need to do now?. It is basically a question of Inclusive Growth facilitating  ACCESS to the masses for Food , Shelter  , Security , Health Care and Justice  at affordable costs . Next comes  fund access , cheap power , good roads , meaningful education and market access for farm produce . The advances made through economic liberalization should now be channeled  to achieve these social objectives in a phased manner to bring about all round prosperity. The young profile of our masses who are passionate about  our country and its growth needs a good government to harness such youth power to drive our nation to greater heights in a very inclusive manner .

Thank you Sudhir Tailang for the cartoon.

Praise for ” 3 Idiots” – The paradox of Knowledge vs Understanding .

The new Hindi   movie ” THREE  IDIOTS ” has managed to bring to sharp focus the great Indian paradox of college education where Knowledge by Rote Method scores over ” Real Understanding of Life skills ” and success as demonstrated by rank  is more coveted than practical excellence . Narrated in a lighter vain with a good dose of slapstick comedy with occasional parody overtones and usual melodrama , the Aamir Khan starrer has  entertained all with very pertinent questions posed to the Educational System in this country and its impact on the middle class struggling to create bread winners for the family with total disregard to individual talent and aspirations of their offspring .

The Indian education system is on fire both from the government and  the stake holders .Today’s news about de-recognising more than 40 Deemed Universities in the country in one go explains the deep rooted malaise in our system . The so called formal education system especially for technical education is creating  ” unemployable graduates ” in thousands  and this percentage goes up every year as new engineering colleges appear on the scene. It is a collective failure by all agencies and we hope the new education policy on the anvil corrects this malady forever before it is too late .

Many of us exposed to the wonderful yearly publication titled ” What color is your parachute ” by Richard Nelson Bolles should spread the message contained in the book  to all our friends in India so that students are encouraged to select a career based on their individual talent . Read this along with Howard Gardner’s  ” Theory of Multiple Intelligences ” and we have a fairly good frame work to follow to select a  career as well as a pedagogy for teaching . We should also overhaul the present examination system and replace it with projects and industry assignments especially for technical education . For post graduate and doctoral levels , research with bias on Indian issues should take precedence . Once we have the Will ,Funds can be found from anywhere without any problem.

Let the  subtle  message from ” THREE  IDIOTS ”  be a wake up call for all!!

Note – I was pleasantly surprised to read the column by Jayanthi Natarajan , Congree MP in the Deccan Chronicle on  18 Jan  titled ” To Idiots,with Love “. She has done a great service to the society by writing so candidly about the message contained in the movie . Thank you Mrs Natarajan.

A Poignant Cricket Moment: A personal note

Photo copyright naa.gov.au

Photo copyright naa.gov.au

Today I am back in my blog after a gap of one year. No excuses, only a sincere apology. I know I need to make it up now.

A photograph in the Deccan Chronicle today showing a 9 year old boy Rick Sheeren asking the legendary Don Bradman  for his autograph during the Prime Minister’s XI vs MCC match in 1963 with a note”A poignant cricket moment” caught my attention. This took me back to a similar moment in my life  in 1989 at the Indore cricket ground during a Ranji Trophy match when my 6 year old son Raghu approached Sachin Tendulkar during the lunch break for his autograph. Sachin readily obliged. Raghu, who is now working as a software professional proudly keeps this autograph and many times we both talk about this incident. I wish I had taken a photograph of that moment. We both are Sachin’s fans and we are so happy to have followed Sachin Tendulkar’s career  graph for the last 20 years.

Sachin Tendulkar met the great Don Bradman during his Australian trip a few years back. Sachin was already a celebrity when he met Don. But I am tempted to ask Sachin, did he feel the same way as Rick in the photo I referred or like Raghu,my son? After all, the child in you always surface in such poignant moments.