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Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Level Playground




I returned to my room and switched on the TV. It was a program on the India’s premier educational institutions, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and it was in Chinese and being telecast on the ATV Network (Asian TV Network, one of the biggest in Hong Kong and China). This time the language did not matter, as it does not while watching the cartoons in morning or a late night movie! I have got quite accustomed to watching these programs now, since I have been here in Hong Kong for a while!

I sat down and kept watching the absorbing program for next 45 minutes without following the commentary! They showed the inception of the first IIT at Kharagpur, with the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru addressing the first convocation in 1956. It mentioned that the institute was a, Detention Camp where the freedom fighters were detained, and some rare pictures were flashed. I did not know that the first IIT was set up at a detention camp! More details about the setting up of other IITs, then followed. The interviews with glitterati alumnus like Narayan Murthy, Nanadan Nilekani, (both of Infosys), Shiv Nadar of HCL, Vinod Khosla, founder of Sun Microsystems, Arun Sarin global CEO of Vodafone, followed!

The team then went to some Indian villages and smaller towns where the young students learned the basics of Mathematics. A lady teacher demonstrated while teaching multiplication to her fifth grade students by Vedic Mathematics techniques which enhanced their computing skills manifold!  In some smaller towns the classes were being held in tents, and the students were holding umbrellas to protect their notebooks from the pelting rain!

The scene then moved to some of the students pursuing their career in these prestigious institutions and the Indian Institutes of Management after going through coaching institutions in places like Patna and Kota.

Why was this beamed in Hong Kong and other Chinese cities? I have only one answer! Everyone realizes the power of knowledge and in today’s world; knowledge is the only way to move the ladders of success! The younger students are being influenced early in life to take up education as seriously as being done in some remote corners of the world which produce best of the class engineers, doctors or management professionals! Also, the importance of learning English early cannot be underscored as I could make out in the program!

We all have seen that education makes a great level playing ground and no longer is it necessary to have rich parents to ensure a wealthy and happier life in future! Today’s middle class in India has far more wealth and better lifestyle than what their parents had! It is the education which has brought about the change and acted as a great equalizer and harbinger of prosperity!

We too, need to likewise learn, from the other nations how they manage their rivers to remain unpolluted, tackle the traffic woes, keep the cities clean, and dispose their garbage effectively, and so on! It is tiring to keep watching endless debates on corruption, political alliances and power games play day in and day out.

China has a very clear agenda to be the dragon in the 21st century, and rule the world! They are already leading on many frontiers like low cost production of electronics, toys, and clothing, construction, fast trains, military aspirations and may more! After a clean sweep in medals tally in the Beijing Olympics, they are all set to conquer the top slot in forthcoming London Olympics

It is time to do some serious introspection and work in areas which could bring about greater literacy, reduce poverty, to narrow down the gap between rich and poor. It only requires a will to do and impetus on making everyone educated to take rational decisions!

PS- Image kind courtesy Google

81 comments:

  1. A very informative and important post. I didn't know that IIT was set up on a detention camp. I totally agree with you that our education system has been a great leveler and has brought about greatness in many ways. We definitely have some introspection to do in certain other areas though. Nice thought-provoking article. :)

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  2. This is a very astute post- I also feel at times there is too much time spent on debating and not enough learning from each other. We can see the various successes and attempt to gain some knowledge from each other- implement what we learn- and grow together!

    Great post!

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    1. Anjuli,Debating has unfortunately become a national pastime instead of working on a specific agenda:)

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  3. well written post. Very informative .. super like the post.. India has work on so many things. I still have hope .. We will someday :D

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    1. I am happy you liked it! Yes, one always hopes for a better tomorrow!

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  4. One of the most important points you have made is the rich poor divide. all the development and growth are getting concentrated in too few hands and making the other half poorer with every passing year.

    It is about time to abolish politics as being illegal and bring in governance in its place. the only question is, how to?

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    1. So true, Zephyr! It is the in-satiated greed to amass wealth which is now become a disease and there does not appear a cure in sight:)Good governance, administration will only be possible only when this malady can be treated:)

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  5. India vs China will always be the battle the rest of the world will discuss.. China is currently leading and will be the case for years to come.. India however will put its cultural diversity to the world to come and follow.. Knowledge will be the key area for both the countries.. India's expertise in IT / BPO / KPO vis-a-vis China's low cost of production!!

    Great to know China is learning from India's experiences. We need to do the same..

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    1. Binu, my only concern is that with our laid back attitude, we should not loose further ground to countries like Vietnam, Thailand etc after having fallen behind Singapore, Malaysia etc although the comparison in terms of size and population would not be fair!

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  6. very true, education has been the game changer for the middle class populace - in terms of their vertical movement in the social strata

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    1. Thanks Sujatha, for agreeing with my view:)

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  7. very right..real knowledge liberates you and elevates your standards of thinking and living

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    1. AS, thanks for strengthening my view point:)

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  8. Extremely right.
    It is very unlike China but definitely good to know.
    Your choice of topics makes my mind profoundly ponder. Thank You.

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    1. Thank you, for that sweet comment, that my post leaves some food for thought:)

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  9. I quote you Rahul! Reading your posts is always very eductative!

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    1. Francesca, Am honored with your kind comment!

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  10. i agree, India really needs to set its priorities straight,,, by the way my husband also did his engineering from IIT Kharagpur

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    1. Wow Purvi, your hubby too belongs to the elite institute!One more reason to feel that I am in august company:)

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  12. Thought provoking piece indeed.

    One thing I've realized in the time spent in the so called 'Developed' countries is the clarity of purpose that the house/authority making the decisions, have in where they want the country to be in say 5 to 10 years.

    Of course there then is their own politics, corruption, dirty trick & whatnot, amongst the local parties/groups as to who runs that house and in that process for that period enjoys the power & opportunity for personal gains, BUT all that is done around & without largely harming that larger purpose of taking the society and country where it should be in a time span.

    For us the greed & short term benefits of the people in power have more of less dominated their thought process. We have made a lot of progress and where we are is in no way a feat not to be proud of, but if we want to accelerate at the pace our peers are accelerating that LARGER purpose has to be kept over n above smaller petty differences & gains.

    We should be proud of what we have achieved so far but in no way complacent or overlook the gap be bridged between us and where we want to be. And the gap is indeed BIG, no matter how u look at it.

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    1. So true!Unfortunately governance has gone in hands of those who like to watch pornography when the assembly is in session!

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  13. What u have said is so true!! And yes India needs to work in the right direction.

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    1. Thank you Ria, that you too feel the same way!

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  14. Very well written. Yes, we have to work towards building a better future for the nation. It is high time we took notice of this and try to be a better Nation!

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    1. Thanks a lot Ashwini! I feel sad that despite so many resources in our country, we fritter our energies in undesired direction.

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  15. You are 100% right when you talk about that 'education has brought about change'. The level of determination of those students you mentioned is admirable. This is an article that be applied worldwide, especially here in SA.

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    1. What is true for India is to some extent true for most of the countries other than US, Europe, Japan, Korea, and a few more South Asian countries!Thanks a lot, Sam as you could relate it to SA!

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  16. Beautifully written post, Rahul. I always learn something new here!

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    1. Ash, thanks a lot for heaping praise! A beautiful mind finds beauty in everything:)

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  17. Amen! Well said - and beautifully put.

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  18. You are absolutely right by what you have said in this post. We are educated throughout our school, college and University of how the world operates, how products become into being, from heroic stories of the past - only to find that when we step foot in the real life - the world is not so great and neither are people striving to improve their homes, neighbourhoods, communities, towns, cities and country - if fact, we are quickly highlighting mistakes made by others (who have tried) but quickly fail to recognise that we are not part of the solution but pretty much part of the problem.

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    1. As long as one understands that his actions are in the right direction, one need not worry! Nothing in this life is perfect and one needs to use his/ her own rationality rather than blaming everyone around!

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  19. Very true...Hope I will see better India tomorrow

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    1. Thanks Valli! I know that the youth in India would love to see a better place and must accordingly work to make it happen!

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  20. I am an average Indian and I believe in the power of education. After spending nearly a year in US, my only conclusion is that these people use their energies for better purposes. Youth of India can write million tweets about corruption. But can't follow it in spirit. We have the best of brains in the world and one of the worst moral standards...

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    1. Saru, we are all average Indians and as you rightly said that the difference can be made by just doing our own work. I have seen this happen where ever I have traveled! Tweeting and debates are useless unless the actions are according to what people expect in the tweets or debates!

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  21. Read this and past few posts too! You are doing great! :-)

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    1. Thanks Giribala,for your kind comments:)

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  22. People should not quite concentrate on making money alone with knowledge and there’s a lot we need to do with knowledge and spreading it itself is a social cause… as u said we need to replace a lot things with knowledge and getting idea from aboard is nothing put us down, instead rose up to their lever or more on experiencing the comfort. We have a lot of talent who work for foreign and it’s not wrong, but taking care of our country is more important than anything.

    Totally agree with you and was an eye opening on IT exist.

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    1. Thanks Jeevan and agree with your views:)

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  23. Our curriculum needs to keep pace with industry demands. IIT as Narayana Murthy so correctly pointed out, has lost it's glory.

    Hopefully with the scrapping of IIT Jee, things should change for the better.

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    1. No denying in what you say! We have to move with times and the leadership should set the right examples rather than behaving as spoilt brats and peeping 'toms'

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  24. Your point of thinking is very right!

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  25. So proud to see a programme on Indian in another country! Very true that we have realized that education is thr only that can secure a good future in the long run but we still have a long way to go in terms of becoming a super power..hopefully we will show the world one day :)

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    1. Certainly Natasha it was a good feeling to see Indians being eulogized. I do hope like you:)

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  26. Can't agree more on your thoughts...somehow at the present moment a sense of hopelessness is looming at large which needs to change for the better.

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    1. Sure , every dark cloud has a silver lining and hope this happens!

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  27. Great post, Rahul and so different from your usual ones.

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    1. Thanks Rachna! After all variety is the spice of life:)

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  28. Even a drop in the ocean matters.. every one of us should make a conscious effort to do our bit.. I am doing mine I guess :-)

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  29. Liked this post sir. :) After so many days am reading your blog, missed your posts. :) Now am back :)

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  30. I was reading about the IPOs filed by China v/s India. Trust them to take things seriously. China has truly understood the meaning of knowledge is power. While its heartening to see more educated kinds in India; its still sad to see setting up educational institutes as a quick way to make money by some.

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  31. Very informative post, Rahulji! Thanks for the information about the history of the IITs.

    We spend too much time debating about the corruption, politics, scams etc. Instead, as you said, innovative methods should be found to manage garbage, pollution etc. Yes, education is playing a very important role in our middle class families' lifestyle.

    Let me share this in FB and Twitter. Many people should read this.

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    1. Thanks a lot Sandhya, for this kind gesture!

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  32. I sent this link to my son and he sent a referring link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hijli_Detention_Camp

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    1. How nice! Yes, I read through the link too... such information makes us aware of the hardships which people went through before setting up these fine temples of learning:)

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    1. Thanks a lot Izdiher, and am very happy that you liked it:)

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  34. Good thoughts here. I think, we live in times of massive change and i hope it will be for the better for all of us and the planet. LeT#s work our little part in this!

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    1. nice post ..hope this gap comes to minimal...
      the scenario in india has changed a lot as it was back 10 yrs,,I can relate to that..influence of west, higher salaries and education made a difference ... BUT we still lack ...
      ..hope this gap is covered by education and awareness...

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    2. Thanks Martina, The sweeping changes are happening around the globe and hope we all conribute or bit as you rightly said:)

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    3. Thanks Harman! Yes we are in a state of flux and hope these changes make us a proud nation at the end of it!

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  35. Education is very very important. It's so sad when poor children can't study and also when the government does not really do much. I feel so bad for those little kids.
    I'm going to work with the NGOs and help poor kids study in the summer :)

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    1. Thanks Juhi! It was wonderful to learn of your noble intention to educate the poor kids!Nothing can ever match the good feeling for doing a deed without an expectation:)

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  36. I think all countries can learn from the examples of others and hopefully in the process make the alterations needed for success on a universal level. Without education, where would any of us be? Another very informative post, Rahul! Keep up the good work and thanks for the education. No pun intended {|:)

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    1. Princesa Fiona! Thanks for your lovely comments as always! We must make this a better world in whatever way we can contribute!Also, am happy you liked this post:)

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  37. In some ways, showing off about IIT is fine. But as you rightly said, the sanitation, the big divide between haves/havenots, the lack of education to the poor child labour.,lack of helthcare are the areas that need urgent focus.

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  38. Welcome to my blog, Vetrimagal! Thanks for your comments!

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  39. Bus woh will hi to nahi ha yahan:(...

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  40. Rightly said Rahul. I totally agree with you.

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  41. Very nice blog which actually mirrors my own belief. I think this is the reason that middle class families are willing to spend less on themselves yet ensure their children do not compromise on their education....

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    1. Thanks for liking and also finding that the beliefs strike the right chord:)

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