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Test for wardenship at IIT Madras September 10, 2005

Posted by gantech in Fun.
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http://www.iitmadras.org/corner/2005/sep07/
Prof. Devendra Jalihal seems to be an interesting character. I am not able to stop laughing, seeing his "options" even after reading them over and over again. Godavari must be really gifted to have such a warden. Not that my warden Prof. G.Srinivasan is bad. He is really good. But I haven't seen him crack jokes like this.

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The Indian Education system September 9, 2005

Posted by gantech in Personal Ramblings.
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It is nothing short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction
have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiousity of inquiry; for
what this delicate little plant needs more than anything, besides
stimulation, is freedom.
— Einstein

Well that may not have been said by Einstein, but it doesn't matter.

I have always had a problem with these articles on the current education system. One guy in his article would point out the problems and faults that it has. The other guy would say how his daughter went through the stress before and after her X th board exams. What's the point in saying "Ya, there's a problem" all the time. Of late the articles turned to giving suggestions. But even them, they weren't concrete. Initially I liked reading such articles. Then I got bored. It is just like Politics you know. Saying the same thing in a million different ways. What does Bush do today. Keeps saying terrorism everywhere he goes.

I formed the impression that nothing is going to change, atleast in the near future. My idea is that, the current system of education is basically to enhance literacy. No more. This system is not structured in such a way that an artist or a designer or a historian or a journalist would stand out in a crowd. And ya may be mathematicians would stand out, but even that is a rarity. Seriously I don't see any other reason why I am in IIT. That I got really interested in Aerospace is another matter, but with a good system of education who knows what I would be doing now. So it isn't worth much more than helping you develop rote memory. Though education boards are trying to change it, there seems to be a lot of inertia. The problem will obviously not be with the students, but with the teachers.

I recently learnt that Kerala has introduced a radically new system of education at the primary level. The following articles are pretty good. Though the one by the CPI(M) may have political aims, it's pretty good otherwise.

http://www.flonnet.com/fl1615/16150880.htm
http://www.indiatogether.org/2004/may/edu-grading.htm

http://www.pr.com/press-release/1128

I never thought it would come so soon. Though detecting artists, designers, historians, journalists may still be difficult, this is a welcome change.

"Is this going to work? You are supposed to teach 20 to 25 children and there is double that number in my class. I am over 40, and they expect me to play 'aana' (elephant) and the 'frog in the puddle' before a group of second standard children!"

– Teacher to headmistress at a government primary school, in the presence of this correspondent.

But such statements fighten me. I just hope the teachers don't ensure that poor results are the outcome to change back to the old system. And that the system goes through the initial inertia it might face.

General notion of the US in Indian households September 7, 2005

Posted by gantech in Personal thoughts.
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My mother told me that my friend, who is an year senior to me, had gone to the US very recently to pursue higher studies. It seems that his mother told my mother that he did not study as "hard" as I did during his +1 and +2, but still ended up going to the US, and hence I need not have studied "hard". This shows that the notion in her mind is that going to US is the ultimate aim of every student and that if you are able to achieve it by simpler means then it is not worth putting in more effort. It was a similar response that I recieved my from my mother's elder sister, having "sent" both her sons to the US, when she came to know that I got an admission in IIT Madras. Even more aggressive was the response when I told her that me going to the US or any other country would depend on the field that I am going to specialise in and that if there are good professors in India who can guide me further in that field in Universities that have the required facilities, then the US or any other country would only be a secondary option for me. By saying this I presume that the very reason any body wants to pursue higher studies in the US, should be because there are not many colleges and Universities in India that can boast of facilities that are comparable to the ones that US Universities have in their field. There is nothing wrong in going abroad for higher studies if you stand to gain by education there and you help either "SCIENCE" or "INDIA" grow by doing it. My friend TJ's comments on this is another way of looking at it (will link it in another few days). But "Going to the US" should defy not be anybody's ultimate aim.

This mindset of my friend's mother is, I think, prevalent among the majority of the population who's sons or daughters are in that age group.

(The point is that I was awake on one particular night till about 2 a.m or so and his mother saw me "studying" through the window, and that's it, my mother was considered to be forcing me to study at odd times and that she was "torturing" me. Little did she realise that I was doing nothing more than writing an assignment to be submitted the next day at school and that I had slept for three hours as soon as I came from school)

Archanas at temples – Status show off or Belief in God September 7, 2005

Posted by gantech in Personal thoughts.
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I some how feel the Archanas in the Temples today are more of a status (mostly economic) show-off, rather than belief in God. I am not debating about whether God exists or not. Whenever I go to temples (which is a rarity and so my entire statement may be wrong) , I find that the talk among women is mostly about what sarees they wore or what necklaces they wear, and among men it is about where their son or daughter has gone for higher studies or their place of work. What is more important is people talking at home about the kind of "Archanas" or "Vadamala sevai's" that the other family did and that they should also do it as soon as possible. I have overheard this in many families (atleast ten including my own). And I live in Nanganallur, which is regarded as a temple town. Is this is a status-show off or are people foolish enough to believe that they are serving "God" by doing such things. And your status in temples is judged by the amount which you tip the pujari there everytime. It is generally in the hotels that we hear of such things. Not many actually notice these things.

This brings into light another question. By how many percentage points can literacy in India be increased if money spent on such things, is inturn spent on sponsoring a child's education. I say that the money can go through all corruption, bribery and all that stuff and still literacy in India can be imporoved by fifty percent.

The Hindu : Metro Plus Chennai : Small acts of blindness September 5, 2005

Posted by gantech in Personal Ramblings.
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http://www.hindu.com/mp/2005/09/05/stories/2005090500250100.htm

This article really brings out the daily acts of kindness which are well within our reach but what we fail to do. This is true atleast with me. I realised that I don't know the name of my Security and the guy who delivers my Newspaper. I had better find that out soon.

India needs energy, and the US September 3, 2005

Posted by gantech in Politics.
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http://www.rediff.com/news/2005/sep/02sg.htm

A very good article. I find it amusing that when the country is ridden with so many internal problems of Caste, Religion, Corruption, Literacy the higher officials find time to actually go behind strategic interests in the region. I am not saying that what they are doing is wrong, but that they are doing a great job. It is difficult to do a good job of both at the same time. But afterall that is what stragetists and diplomats are meant to do.

I would be very happy if they just brushed aside the US warnings and cared only about security of the gasline in Pakistan. It wouldn't be a very good policy to follow this, but still I have my own "hopes"

India mocks at the US September 3, 2005

Posted by gantech in Politics.
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However others might consider, I see it that India is mocking at the US by pledging $5mn dollars to the US Red Cross reilef. Way to go India!!!!!!!!!!

http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/sep/03katrina.htm

On the other hand the same money could have spent wisely on Primary Education and all the other pressing concerns of India.

How to establish a scientific theory September 1, 2005

Posted by gantech in Something Interesting.
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I found this interesting blog on the above topic.

http://chutneyspears.blogspot.com/2005/08/how-to-establish-scientific-theory.html

An interesting read.