Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winter 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

After a long time....

......I am posting something in my blog. I just got an email from my brother asking why I haven't updated my blog for quite sometime. My answer: I was just lazy to write anything.

And I have decided that I will write something every week and post it in my blog.

Cheers and have a wonderful Christmas.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Books I read in India till date

This India trip has given me lots of free time and I was able to utilize at least a part of it to read some quality books.

I decided that I should read something about contemporary India thinking that it would help me understand India better.

Books that I read:

1. Imagining India by Nandan Nilekani
2. India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha
3. A better India: A better World by Narayana Murthy

Interestingly, two of these books are written by the founders of Infosys, a highly successful and respected company in India and abroad.

'India after Gandhi' is a classic. The book deals with post- independence India and the narration was so good that I completed reading the 900 page book in about a week ( This is the third fastest I have ever completed reading a book. Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code' and William Shirer's 'Rise and Fall Of The Third Reich' are the first two in the list).

Did I understand India completely by reading these books?

Definitely not.

But it is a start.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hate crimes down under

For the 90,000 odd Indian students living in Australia, the events that had transpired in the last two weeks were the worst they would have ever experienced. A series of attacks aimed particularly at Indian students led to massive protests by the students in Australia and even in India. India’s external affairs minister, S M Krishna said that he was appalled by such attacks and wanted the Australian government to act swiftly. Aussie premier, Kevin Rudd was quick to reply :"I speak on behalf of all Australians when I say that we deplore and condemn these attacks”.

Hate crimes are bad- wherever it takes place and whatever form or shape it is executed. I sincerely hope that this issue is solved quickly. I am happy to see that the two countries are taking measures to bring this issue to an end.

The worst part regarding this issue was the way these incidents are portrayed in the Indian press. These incidents are spiced up in the local television channels and newspapers and getting the parents worried.A recent report showed that there is a decline in the number of applications by Indian students to Australian universities.

My brother lives in Melbourne and my worried parents are watching the “hourly news” in all the TV channels and call him every day.Talking to my brother, it was clear to me that it was not as serious as it was portrayed in the Indian press. Recently, the number of crimes in general increased a lot in Victorian province and it so happened that some of the Indian students also got affected. (I am talking about robbery. Hitting Indian students, setting ablaze cars owned by Indian students are an altogether different issue and should be condemned).

Hope the Australian government takes measures to correct this issue quickly or else it would be difficult for the Australian universities to attract Indian students for the next term. Rs. 7600 crore in foreign exchange for Australia and more importantly, lives of Indian students are in line.

Tamil Nadu professional courses entrance examinations

Getting admission into Tamil Nadu engineering and medical colleges is fairly simple-attend the 12th board examinations and score well in the science and math subjects. It was not the same when I was trying to get into an engineering school. I had to attend an entrance examination (TNPCEE exam, which is far tougher than the board examinations!!) which was weighed 1/3 of the final eligibility score.

When I first heard that TN government is canceling the entrance examination and giving more (in fact, only) weight to the board examination scores, I was appalled. It was far easier to score a 200 in math in the board exam than to score a 30/50 in the entrance examination. I always thought that the best students are separated from the rest only through this entrance examination (this is similar in all competitive exams in India).

But, TNPCEE did pose a huge problem-students from cities and from rich background could afford to attend special coaching classes for getting a better score in the entrance exams. This gives an untoward advantage for a very small percentage of students.

Nandan Nilekani of Infosys writes in his book “Imagining India”, “Most parents could afford to send their children to state schools which had weak standards and taught only in the regional languages. This alone meant that in India if you are born poor it was very likely that you would remain poor for the rest of your life, and it was likely too that your children would not fare much better”.

I agree.

I think what the TN govt had done would help reduce (and might completely remove) the line between students from the poorer background to those from the richer background (who could attend coaching classes to get good score in the entrance examinations). Now the game is fair with no players under the influence of performance enhancing drugs(or coaching classes).

P.S: the bad part of this whole new system is that a lot of students end up getting the same cut-off score (there are always hundreds of students who score 100% in math, physics and chemistry) and to rank them the Government use students' date of birth, first letter of the name, rural/urban differences as some of the distinguishing factors.

Imagine my situation- with a birthday in September, with V as my name’s first letter and coming from the urban background, I would be placed last in the whole ranking list. Hi Hi!!!