Thursday, December 1, 2011

Random Thoughts-From Muslim Reservation to Lokpal....

It was an extremely busy day...landed at Delhi in the morning and rushed to Dwarka for the Annual Convocation.. Evening news bulletins were filled with coverage of news about Reservation for OBC Muslims, Nationwide protest against FDI in Retail,  Lokpal Bill and differences among the members of Standing Committee and another day marked by adjouranment of Loksabha .Congress government is bringing  in reservation for OBC muslims and I wish reservation is also considered for poor section of upper caste population.  I was never in favor of any kind of reservation but it is here to stay because of our politicians, so it is better that its beneft reaches to all those who deserve it. As far as statistics go ,  a large section of muslim population is still uneducated, unemployed and bereft of development .Therefore it is logical to offer them some equalizer. Reservation in jobs could be one way of dealing with this aspect but the important question is how to motivate muslim children to get access to modern education while ensuring that they go for religious learning.

So much has been written about FDI in retail and its impact on agricultural supply chain that we are left with hardly any new thoughts on this issue. Lot of hue and cry was made when organized retail started with chains like Big Bazaar ,  Big Apple and Spencer. Our kirana stores are still around while many big wigs like Reliance are still struggling. Again I believe  that we should not write off any new development before giving it a chance to fail / succeed on its merit. Who knows may be our farmers actually get better payment for their output, learn about food processing and techniques of increasing shelf life of products ?

About Lokpal ...again the more  I learn about it , more is the quantum of  confusion that I discover.It is often alleged that while Class C and D employees take the bribe on behalf of senior officers , they get a minor share out of this money. Does it mean they should be left out of the ambit of Lokpal ? Why the PrimeMinister should be spared ? While travelling in Rajdhani today, I gave Rs. 10 to the Catering staff in return for his good service , did I committ the crime of giving him money which is unaccounted ?  Should I along with other fellow passengers be charged with abatement to corruption .....I am clueless.....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

IIT JEE Reforms ???

Mr.Kapil Sibbal declared that IIT JEE entrance system is being rejigged and class 12 marks of various boards will form part of the ranking system for admission in IITs.He also informed that normalization of class 12 marks of various board will be undertaken Merit list prepared on the basis of normalized board marks and an aptitude test will be used for admission.A section of the media lauded this announcement and claimed that this would be the death nail for the coaching industry .

When I was a faculty with BITS Pilan (1992-94) , which used the board examination marks then to arrive at merit list of students who applied for admission in the institution; I observed that the number of students from Tamil Nadu and othe southern states far outnumbered their counterpart from northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar etc..I often called it Birla Institute for Tamilians and other South Indians (BITS ) !It seems some states have developed a magical formula to ensure that a large number of students score upwards of 90 percent. Therefore there is bunching at the top end of the marks distribution in states of Tamil Nadu , Andhra Pradesh and Keala.How do we normalize the marks obtained in different boards then is a big issue . Already statistical experts from ISI Kolkata through analysis of Class 12 marks of various boards have concluded that the marks scored across the boards can not be compared as there was hardly any correlation among the marks scored by the candidates from the various boards.

Coacing business brings in lot of pressure, no doubt; but how do you ensure that they will not devise systems to adapt to this new aptiude based test ? It is not advisable to put the young talent of the country to such experimention. Unfortunately our ministers seem to be short of the talent to figure out these dynamics.There was another announcement with respect to IIT fee but more about that later.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Once upon a time we watched doordarshan !

I was watching a program being telecast on CNN was about music composer Illayaraja.It happens to be his birthday today .Program featured songs from his Hindi as well as Tamil films ..a treat for the ears.... In particular the song "surmai akhiyon main nanha munna ek sapna..." brought back so many memories, memories of Golden era of Doordarshan when every sunday I would watch regional movies showing jewels of Indian Cinema such as Siri Siri Muwa. This telegu movie was remade as Sargam in Hindi and was a huge success. Then there was Apoorva Raagangal, in which Kamal Haasan played a rebellious youth in love with an older woman. I saw many movies starring Kamal Haasan and became a fan of the actor. Much later he entered Hindi movie scene with Ek Duje ke Liye . I even saw original version of "Red Rose" . In Hindi version super star Rajesh Khanna played the role of a hero with a negative shade, originally played by Kamal Haasan.Only superlatives can be used for his performance. The less said about 'red Rose " and Rajesh Khanna , the better !

Such was the influence of those south Indian movies that my best friends Uma and Lakshmi were from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Now ...there is no time to watch movies ,not even Hindi and English ones so regional cinema is a thing of past...Doordarshan bhi ab door se bhi regional films nahin dikhata hai ....and in any case no body watches Doordarshan anymore.I can never forget the sensitivity with which south Indian directors treated the difficult subjects of their movies.

Man to yahi karta hai ki ....Koi lauta do mere beete hue din.....!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

World Cup 2011 Victory : Time to remember the unsung heroes

It is indeed time for rejoicing! India is the new world champion. While Dhoni gets the credit for victory of the team, world cup is also lauded as a gift to Tendulkar. This team displayed that they can now play with confidence and conviction against any team of the world. They can handle pressure and have the right attitude - the so called killer instinct ! Where did all this come from? Has it come only now? Did the Indian team that lost the world cup finals 2003 lack it? The team had Virendra Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh,Habhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan , Ashish Nehra and yes of course , our hero The Sachin Tendulkar .

We need to acknowledge the fact that Team 2003 may have lost the cup but it led the foundation for the World Cup 2011.We need to credit Mr. S.C. Ganguly and Mr. John Wright for starting a new era of Indian cricket. Saurav Ganguly was lucky to have John Wright as the coach who helped in changing the mindset of cricket in the country. Together they brought ATTITUDE in the team. Who can forget the photographs of Ganguly brandishing his Team India light blue shirt from the balcony of the Pavilion in Lord’s? When Ganguly became the captain of the team it was passing through one of the worst phase of Indian Cricket history. Match Fixing allegations were being investigated; India had lost a series against Australia by 3-0. It was under his leadership that the process of reform began in the team. He was the one who supported and encouraged people like Sehwag, Harbhajan, Yuvraj and Zaheer. One can never say he promoted players from his state or his religion or his caste. He was never shy of experimenting, for example making Rahul Dravid keep wickets so as to have an extra genuine batsman. Saurav backed the right players to the extent it was never seen before, a legacy that Captain Dhoni is following. What Dhoni has delivered for team India is the result of the transformation process resulting into the right combination of ability with nerve set in by Mr. S.C.Ganguly and John Wright –The Unsung Heroes!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why Universities do not honour students' Right to Information ?

Right to Information Act has been instrumental in unearthing scams and scandals and ensuring transparency in governance across the country.Central universities and state funded universities also fall under the domain of the act. Students apart from parents are the vital stakeholders of the university system and have every right to know the way they conduct their business.We may discuss at the intellectual fora about the holistic development that education should offer but the fact remains that eventually it is the marks that students get that decide their fate. Just to cite an example IIMs today are giving consideration to the marks obtained at secondary, senior secondary and undergraduate level while preparing the list of candidates to be called for PI and Gd. Probably they doubt on the validity of the CAT evaluation system !The point is; in spite of evaluation being the key to an individual's career path, there is very little that he/ she can do to assess the reliability of the system of evaluation. IITs too have been not disclosing the marks secured by all the candidate in JEE. Again thanks to a series of RTIs by an IIT Kharagpur faculty , hopefully this year IIT-JEE aspirants would know the results of the assessment as copies are likely to be made available online.

When I was a faculty with BITS Pilani, we had to show the answer scripts both for the internal test as well as comprehensive (End Term) examination. This I still believe is the right approach. Students have every right to know how their copies are evaluated and how marks are awarded. Ironically most of the RTIs requests filed by the students that asked for copies of their examination answer scripts have been turned down by universities. I fail to understand why is the teaching fraternity opposing this move towards enhancing transparency and bringing greater credibility of the system of teaching and learning? Aren’t we giving credence to the belief that marks are not the true reflection of their performance rather they depend on the mood and whims and fancies of the teachers? Being a teacher I can say with confidence and conviction that we do our job sincerely, so why are we shy of moving ahead in this direction ?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan Relief Fund

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Life ???

I often thought death of loved ones is one of the greatest tragedies of life ! I was too young to understand the implications of my father's death.After thirty years (almost ) my mother's demise has shattered us all.She had a heart of gold,full of love and warmth for everyone.She was innocent yet careful.Punctual and meticulous but ever willing to go to any length to help others.A fighter till the end she never asked for sympathy or help . She was tall, elegant and had a unique persona.She left her mark on everyone who had a chance to meet her.She was the best ... God broke our hearts to prove to us he only takes the best.

When you lose a person, you realize there is so much left unsaid, so much that was not expressed...We take life for granted, foolishly believing that we need to focus on the practical aspects such as job, meetings,managing finance etc. etc. and softer aspects can take a back seat. I never expressed these things to her, never appreciated her , never said thanks for everything she did for us. And now it is too late...

But it is never too late to learn from experiences of life..learning that we are all alone and still need someone to talk to, touch , smile with and shed tears for in spite of (and probably with) facebook . How often I have noticed that when you are low and in foul mood , smile of an unknown child makes your day !Let us search the child within us, make friends the way we did as a child, say thank you and sorry without any ego , learn not be judgmental and be good to everyone around us before it is actually too late !