Learning Vs Learning

When I was growing up (I still am..) there were a lot things that used to bother me in school. There was absolutely nothing I would take or learn without being absolutely sure of it. They even went on to say that I’m from Venus coz when I was 14, I insisted how everything that WE had learnt was required for life on a planet existing on Venus inspite of which there was no life (known to us) on the planet, which according to me meant either of the two –

  • We were missing out on a critical neccessity for life to exist.
  • There is life on Venus, unknown to us.

As it turned out, I was the only one who had as much inclination towards Venus when everyone else was busy learning their own set of stuff.

And thats how I became the Venus species. And this wasnt the only thing, there was always a fuss about something or the other… like the revolution that broke out on me insisting on not paying for some kids’ fair tickets being sold in the school, or the thing about the value of pie… which was just TAKEN by others and I would need an explanations of what Pie is and why is it part of so many formulas and how do we figure out its value in the first place… and I actually conducted a few experiments to find out its value….. realizing that I needed a lot better equipment and a lot more accuracy than that to be able to do that.

All these stories lead to one thing, my teachers telling me just to gulp what was being served, or to take it OFFLINE which apparantly never happens. And that where I got the real lesson, if you wish to know or understand something and dont have anyone to guide you through it, you have to find a way yourself to do that… whether its a book or an experiment or anything. The good part it that now when I get all these questions when attending any training or any such session, I just jot it down thinking.. ‘Hmmm, I could just google it later’.

I wonder why is it that all teachers insist on students not analyzing the subject being taught beyond the stuff being covered there. I also remember the fact that most of my batches would take down EXACT answers to most questions that could arise from any chapter being taught and any other or any twisted questions in the examination from that chapter were just considered as Out Of Syllabus. And that wasnt enough, something that never struck me was how everyone prepared for mathematics. The whole idea of finishing all the exercises of a certain book and the other one was not something I really related to. I mean, get a grip, if you read or understand the fundamentals thoroughly, you are just good to go. Atleast that how I thought it works.

Anyways, my way of learning as turned out just fine for me till now, I dont know about the rest… they have done fairly well in their careers though I am not sure what they think about their learnings from the school. Really feel the need for a overhauling in the way education is approached in our schools.

May be I should consider a career there…. and going back to school in a different role, may be… hmmmm

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The Smart Metro kids

I went out for dinner with my old roomie and his family earlier today. His boy, who is 2 or 3, was supposed to be really adorable and naughty. I hadnt seen his kid in a long time and he has been telling me over phone all this while how the boy has been driving everyone nuts with his cute little things. When we met, the topic drifted to the boy and my bhabhi was really disappointed in the way my friend handled his son. I thought it must be better than what she was portraying it to be, being a mother. As the time went on, I realized the kid was actually really spoilt and cared least about anyone or anything. To him, talking ill was fun and a matter of getting attention which he of course did.

This reminded me of a cousin of mine who was always naughty and loved by everyone for his funny bone and sweetness, however, nobody ever complained of him being off the limit. The prime reason for this was he knew when to make fun of something and when not to do it. He understood his limits as well coz I remember him getting a slap at a very early age whenever he tried to cross any boundaries. Not just that, I never remember him enjoy annoying anyone… he was always the kind who would love to make people laugh and not laugh at them. Kids today, probably, act funny for the heck of it, whether or not they are actually funny. Its more an act of attention than anything else.

Even earlier kids were upto something for getting attention but they never had as much ideas as kids today to. Its because of the kinda exposure these kids are getting – on TV, in their family. Its not funny when a 5 year niece asks me whether I was going out for a date as I was looking sexier than ever, its tragic. Whats even more tragic is the laugh this would attract from the family members which encourages the kid and convinces her that she isnt doing anything off limit or beyond her age.

I remember how many times I got beaten up (still do actually) by my maternal aunt for being naughty or being lazy or just because I met her after a long time and my mom actually laughing it off. And I dont think mothers today let anyone touch their kids even if they are caught guilty. Just think about the teacher-student relation row that was going around in Delhi schools recently. I still firmly believe that teachers should have enough rights to put kids back on track by tougher means, obvoiusly not electricuting them or cutting their tongues off but a slap or a scale on the palm is not all that bad if that makes the kid stick to the right thing – even if thats becoz of fear only.

Kids today spend so much time in front of TV sets and playing games within their house that when, occasionally, they fall on the ground, they act injured like an international cricketer.. coz thats what they see all the time. For kids in a village or the outgoing sporty types, I dont think getting a scratch or two in a day is that big a deal. I feel one of us used to fall off the bicycle everyday coz of the competitiveness when we were racing around in the streets.

I aint no parent yet, but I guess parenting has to be a lot more responsible than its being considered by the parents now atleast of the kids that I am talking about. Remember the dialogue of Susan Sarandon in Step Mom “Do you know how it feels to do it when you know that every little decision you make would impact the person you son or daughter would grow up to be“.

Hope to be a fine parent one day… and a proud one too.

Where are India’s Newtons and Einsteins

Proud as I am of the APJ Abdul Kalam, Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Homi Bhaba, JC Bose, Vikram Sarabhai and a few others, however, I still feel that we have not produced as many innovators as we could have considering the average IQ of Indians and the rich knowledgebase that we carry (especially in medical science).

In my point of view, innovators develop a lot out of the education system of any country and in our country the best brains have more incentives to be attracted to the industry than to the education system. How often have you seen the thinkers of your batch pursuing careers in teaching and not going in for attractive abroad pay packages ? Even the professors of most university departments that I have come across (dont know about the IITs which could well be completely different) are pretty much interested in making tution money and spending time in trying to make good public relations to help them grow, get the desired transfers etc etc etc. I just remember one physics professor of mine who wrote a whitepaper on electronics and got it published too, however, he too spent most of his time taking tutions.

I guess the whole story behind this is the approach towards education in our society. Tutions shouldnt be meant for making money, it should be meant for help for students who have trouble following whats being taught. However, if the students are screened before being admitted to a particular program for interest, there wouldnt be much requirement of help if the professors choose a planned and professional approach to teaching in the departments itself. Also, its upto the education system to ensure that the professors prefer to teach in the classrooms than in their houses in the after hours, therefore, they really need to paid well… and in my point of view, paid at par with the industry. Thats how it would become a real career for the people who have enough potential to be the next Newton or the next APJ.

Imagine India where names of our university departments would be taken in the same breath as MITs or Cambridge. And the next generation gadgets, technology and science branches would come from our country and spread across world after that. Where we wouldnt be fighting to become a nuclear power nations like a bunch of others who already are and we wont be struggling to acquire the latest technology aircraft from european country BUT we would be making the next generation submarines, the next generation detection systems and the west would be fighting to acquire the status of a Ganesh Power. Thats the India I wish to breath in …

AMEN !!!!!

The Evolution of Horoscopes

Need a twist in the tale…. put in a horoscope mismatch…. love still prevails… kill the spouse…. he/she is freaking still alive….. marry him/her to someone else with matching horoscope.. the freak comes back to the ex yet again… regular soap on TV. Everyone curses it and still they watch it. Women who criticize moms watching it all day, themselves watching it sooner than later (atleast after they get married đŸ™‚ ).

And influenced by all these soaps and partially due to the emergence of computer softwares, horoscopes have caught up. I remember 6 years back when I was running a cyber cafe for a friend and we had customers paying anywhere between 200 to 1000 bucks for getting their detailed horoscopic report (janam patri) and obscene amount of money to get the match making reports. We were one of the few cyber cafes that had a software for that purpose and the color printout on those religious gloss paper worked like a charm. Now with that kinda info available online, and soaps helping the fever to catch up even more, people are becoming more than ever conscious of the possible effects of stars in their lives and literally living their lives according to them.

My mom is out looking for a girl for me nowadays, and everytime she gets a profile, she would call up a pandit, give her out all details and wait for a callback about the match-making while she does the same thing on the software she has and see if both are consistent. Not that she was always a great believer in this stuff, just that with the soaps the awareness about this sh** has increased so much that its almost a fashion now more than anything else. “Hey, you’ve got 32 gunn matching with this girl, however, this particular star is contradicting… may be you will live apart most of your life… lets not consider this girl”. Well… may be after a few years, I actually might just prefer living apart most of the time đŸ™‚

And not just match making.. Ekta Kapoor has brought in so many whole new concepts of family functions…. from a series of pre and post marital functions to new born function series. And, the fashion has caught up equally well in the society… atleast for sure in Punjabis… we are having rituals I never seen my whole life.. coz one Gujrati family follows some tradition in one god damn soap.

Lets see what reality shows bring on now !!!

The Indian Kid who rocked… or did he

I faintly remember a news from last year (or the previous) when there was this Indian teen who built an Operating System claimed to be a step ahead of Windows that time and one of the Indian IT companies (HCL I guess) came forward to take up the detailed study, and promotion thereon, of that OS. It became an instant news, exciting everyone in the industry and witnessed lots of people from the community and the media going all out praising for the innovative minds of Indian genius. And the news died its death, as did the OS I guess. I tried to google on the subject and found the following link http://hindustan.net/discus/messages/60/13420.html

Turns out it was hoax that took off like anything on internet and in the media. A question that comes up in my mind often is why the hell our Indian companies stay away from hard code innovation and selling serials. I knew the answer, the dollar game. Exactly why when I see dollar value dropping, it brings a smile to my face each day. I know the way forward, and the best part is most of the top managements of Indians companies does as well. We are not so far away from the point when Rupee will stand stronger than every and our companies would device better ways to survive than to cash in on the dollar-rupee ratio. Perhaps, that would lead to innovations and also to recognition of REAL QUALITY labor.

Not that the services industry would or should meet its end in any of the cases, however, the product industry or the other businesses surrounding it would stand equally taller. I see a lot of MNCs closing down their development centers in India as well, however, only a few. There would still be some continuing because the quality of the Indian IT Professional would improve for sure.

Looking forward to a hoax turning into a reality when, not a Ramlal Bhagat, but for sure a Raju or a Murty would challenge Gates.

Guys.. lets start thinking of the names just in case we are the one destined to come up with the next big thing – an OS, a compiler, a DB, a middleware suite.

Domain Names and Brands – Lack of understanding

I got atleast 10 people showing me the site http://www.airtel.com/ and laughing off how Vodafone has taken over Airtel site…. and I pity everyone who’s thinking something like this without understanding what actually is behind all this.

First the domain name airtel.com doesnt belong to Bharti Tele Ventures Ltd, the Airtel service provider that we know in India. They have their site up at http://www.airtel.in/ or at http://www.airtelworld.com/

Second, if your organization’s name is India, doesnt imply that you would surely get http://www.india.com/ domain available.. if its taken u might try and negotiate to buy the domain from the existing owner but thats about it.

Also, Airtel is a brand patented by Bharti only in India (to begin with) and can be used by any other organization anywhere else in the world and Vodafone has it in Spain…. so they got the site’s domain name registered long before our Airtel did.

Airtel and Vodafone might seem competitive in India.. they are actually working as a joint venture in Jersey which I imagine is somewhere in UK.

So I would really recommend all the forward freaks to get their facts straight before fwd junk and occupying valuable bandwidth.

Imagine a poll across the country on ways of resolving the Kashmir problem। I would expect more than 80 per cent to turn up saying they would like to see Kashmir as a part of our own country and the rest of the 20 percent would care less what goes on in Kashmir. However, its immaterial. This is the issue thats running the business of politics and defence in three countries. Not that I have anything against the defence… if at all its the portion of society I respect the most. But the issue has been alive for 60 years coz its not all that simple.

The Mountain Shield
Himalayas are one of the youngest mountain range in the world, it stands tall from Kashmir to the north-east of India and acts a shield of protection for not only India but also for China and Pakistan. This is the single most important reasons for India and Pakistan to want it so bad. Having Kashmir as an undisputed part of itself would ensure India a huge security from a large part of their land borders. The terrain not only restricts army attack options but also, as was apparant in Kargil, gives and edge to the ones sitting on top. Besides, it would also act as a wall to setup infrastructure to spy or plan air attacks on a no. of neighbours. Imagine India having to protect only Punjab and Rajesthan borders against Pakistan as most of the other borders of India would look after themselves.

Paradise on earth
Kashmir is surely one of the most beautiful place across the world. Imagine the obscene amount of money that can be made from a good tourism from this state. I can pretty much guarantee that if the Kashmir issue and terrorism around get resolved today, the tourism in Kashmir would be on full swing within 3 months time, thats how attractive Kashmir would be to travellers around the world.

The Big Egos
Most of the political issues have clear solutions within a few years of the issue being born, however, the political egos of the nations and the politicians running the governments prevent the issue to die off. It a part of their agendas for next 4 elections, a little step towards the portrayed resolutions would be used in the election campaigns as the biggest leadership legends of all times and strength of character. And the bull shit doesnt stop here, the issue is provided enough oxygen to stay lit by various means to satisfy egos of the ruling few or of the masses.

Real Ownership
In my point of view, the fortunes of Kashmir should lie in the hands of the real owners of the valley – the Kashmiris, the ones who have their roots in the place and it really really belongs to them. I have had interactions with a few Kashmiris youngsters who have had to run away from their beloved valley because of the amount of stress they were under from the terror lots and consequently from the army. Imagine a scenario when some of your childhood neighbor visits you and asks you to fight for your independent nation (which you are apparantly not sure was ever independent or whether it should or should not be in the first place) and be a martyr and then you have to explain yourself to the armed forces and convince them that you havent been involved in any of the terror activities in your own neighborhood. Living in the peaceful parts of the country that we do, its almost impossible for us to even imagine something like that in our lives. I truly believe that the Kashmiris should be put in the hot seat (under a UN controlled election may be) to decide whether want to stick to one of the countries or exist independently.

Kashmir Vs Tibet
Consider the Tibet situation, being an outsider, most of the Indians that I come across feel for the Tibet and the Dalai Lama. Not quite the same way about Kashmir though, the mass ego comes into picture. Wouldnt you like to see a peaceful Kashmiri community to live and prosper with peaceful relations with their neighbours. (expecting more No’s than Yes’s on this) In the global environment that is to come in near future, I believe national boundaries would be as material as they are today. Knowing a Kazakistan culture would be similar to understand a Tamil guy for a north Indian or vice versa. We would soon be living in a world where a single global visa and work permit would allow you to travel or work anywhere in the world. Visa to a country would include conditions to restrict working in the cities with high population density or ensuring setting up business in the countryside… who knows. Think beyond your own short term national interest and mass ego and decide for yourself what you would think would be the best for the people who live their lives in their beloved valley everyday amongst all the stress and pain.

As I said, the Kashmir problem might seem a really complex and high significance in the first sight, however, getting another perspective to the story might make it a lot simpler for all the parties involved. But this revolution has to start from the masses.. from us.