Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kashmir Confusion

Kashmir has been a concern for most of us in India for over 20 years.
I figured only recently how confused and deceptive this demand for independence is. 
A recent interview of Hurriyat's Syed Ali Shah Geelani by Seema Mustafa shows that his idea of independence is not freedom as a sovereign state but freedom from the Indian rule.
Another interview with Kashmiri Youth is about joining neither India nor Pakistan but being an independent nation.
However, this deception is perpetuated by all these people who have inflicted nothing but death and destruction on the hapless population of Kashmir.
The stone throwers are supposedly venting their anger armed with nothing but stones! Well, with these stones they have disrupted lives and created conditions that are hurting common people. They deserve no sympathy.
In Pakistan, we have a prime example of how a country created in a rush can be devoid of institutions and hijacked by anyone with gun, money, and greed.
Kashmir's independence is a foolish idea to start with - having Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China next door. If created it can only surpass Pakistan and Afghanistan in creating misery for its inhabitants.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

IIT/K's Place Under the Sun

IIT/K in its initial years was generally considered the odd one by most. Bureaucrats in the government were exasperated at the radical ideas and thoughts that went into building this institution. Universities, and even other IITs were a lot more conforming to the thinking of the time.

IITs were not meant to be 'me too' institutes. It was therefore in the fitness of things that people creating these institutions thought out of the box.

But that was then. India did not have many great institutions, self-confidence was relatively low, resources were scarcer, and role models rare.

It's different today. A fairly fast growing economy, young population that is a lot more aware, confident, and ambitious, infrastructure and social indicators that could be better but are quite enough to launch a thousand (make it a few millions, or hundreds of millions) dreams.

Crucially, IITs then were in nascent stages without a significant number of alumni. IIT alumni today are estimated to be about 150,000 now with  experience profiles from 0 to 50 years. They are found in most geographies, in most fields, and in all variety of career types.

Premier institutes are meant to provide leadership in thought, training, and action.
IITs do have to carry out that role.

Typical talks on IITs surround around what IITs could do in the field of education, research, and transformation. The focus really should be on helping IITians accomplish a lot more than they have in the past.

It is generally believed that IITians have by and large been successful in most fields they have ventured into. There are plenty of iconic individuals with stellar achievements next to their names.

Yet, these are individual successes. There is no institutionalized mechanism or forum where sharing of vision, values, dreams, goals, strategies, and resources that can catalyze the IIT community to make a 100x mark on the world.
We need to come up with a shared vision and SWOT of contemporary India and the world at large as seen by a premier university and its alumni.

The ecosystem needs to facilitate IITians to become great performers both individually and as a community leveraging the synergies of ideas, resourcefulness, resources, collaborations and so on.

Entrepreneurship is one such area. In many ways the success factors presented by the contemporary ecosystem for entrepreneurs are still quite fragmented and obscure. A lot of false starts and eddy currents can be removed in the journey of the budding entrepreneurs by the many who have 'been there, done that'. A virtual Silicon Valley serving the community of IITians is critically needed with a fairly ambitious agenda.

Why the virtual Silicon Valley for IITians?

Quite simply Silicon Valley is about shared values, attitudes, passions, and dreams. IITians from all campuses always talk about how easy it is to break ice and get along with other IITians. So shared ingredients do exist.

This virtual Silicon Valley should help succeed IITians at least at the scale that the one in California. In fact, Brand IIT should make a much bigger impact in the happening country that India is today.

What about the IITs when the focus is on IITians?

IITs are great nuclei to anchor these initiatives serving the community that is wildly dispersed in both space and time.
The Mentoring Program is a great initiative and I hope it is a firm and forward step towards the goals above.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Learning Taxonomies

Training, mentoring, coaching has become a core part of modern professional job description. Often this needs to be imparted in short periods and on short notices. One needs to understand the purpose of that training/learning and use suitable techniques to achieve specific learning goals.

My list of such goals include:
  1. Memorization/Enumeration
  2. Understanding
  3. Performance/Execution
  4. Analysis
  5. Problem-solving
  6. Synthesis
  7. Envision/Discover
General purpose taxonomies have been developed. There is a need to create more specialized taxonomies in specific domains. I propose to compile such lists in various areas - specifically in skills, technology, and management - to start with. 

The most important taxonomies are:
  1. Anderson, L.W. & Krathwohl, D.R. (Eds.) (2001). A taxonomy for Learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Addison Wesley Longman.
  2. Bloom, B.S. (Ed.), Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill, W.H., & Krathwohl, D.R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay

Friday, July 30, 2010

Skills Development in India

Sustaining India's growth story is a challenge and the top three issues it is grappling with are:

  1. Infrastructure
  2. Energy
  3. Skills Availability
The first two can be addressed with relatively more concentrated efforts but skills cannot be developed without a very large scale participation by its educated professionals.

Success or failure in skills development can make or break the India story. Many such issues are highlighted in Navi Radjou's post Can India Reap Its Demographic Dividend? 
India has set an ambitious target of training 500 million people by 2020. It presents a great challenge and a great opportunity for professionals to mentor India's young. Working on PanIIT Alumni's IITians for ITIs initiative there are interesting thoughts and experiences that I plan to share in this space.

पहले शब्द

एक सम्मलेन में पैन आइ आइ टी के पूर्व अध्यक्ष अशांक देसाई ने कहा था कि आज के दौर में प्रेरणा स्रोत होना भी एक आवश्यक उत्तरदायित्व है. आज के  विस्तार और फैलाव को देखते हुए अपने  समकालीन और विशेष कर कनिष्ठ सहयोगियों के साथ अपने विचारों का आदान प्रदान एक महत्वपूर्ण दायित्व बन गया है. अपनी त्रुटियों और खामियों की पूरी जिम्मेदारी लेते हुए बड़ी  विनम्रता से शुरुआत कर रहा हूँ.

पिछले पच्चीस सालों के अनुभव से यह बात तो ज़ाहिर है कि अब के माहौल में विश्व के स्तर पर भी और भारत के अन्दर भी काम करने के अवसर बड़े भी हैं और अधिक संभव भी हैं. साथ ही ये संभावनाएं और तेज़ी से बढ़ रही हैं. तो हमारे बाद आने वाले सहयोगियों से अपेक्षाएं भी ज्यादा हैं. तो उनके साथ हमें मिल कर काम करना होगा.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I feel both curious and a trifle uncertain as I start my first note.

The freedom to express myself is perhaps the first motivation. Even a relief.

As a professional, as a citizen of India and the world there is a lot to share with colleagues and friends.

I feel inspired by a little story in Mahabharat where a king asks a sage what the purpose of the ultimate learning was? The sage says that on attainment of all learning man realizes that he is indebted. Indebted to the king (or society/country), to his parents, and to his teachers. He can repay these by giving offerings (or serving the king/country/society), by bringing forth (and bringing up) children, and by teaching (mentoring and inspiring) others.

So that's a framework I hope to follow.

These are remarkably interesting times, challenging times, and complex times. So my two bits here.