We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Research and Questions

Can you form questions on a single topic that could be provided to you? Lets say, "road".

Basics of research could be learned by asking the right kind of questions. Why does a doctor asks so many questions to you when you visit him for a certain ailment? Because he is trying to judge what the possible cause could be, by trying to map the answers you give to the amount of knowledge/ experience he has accumulated over a period of time. Why does experience matter? Because experience thus lets you witness lot of cases. So, lots of questions are asked. Many times these question asking exercise seems a lot frustrating specifically for the people, who are not used to think critically, because the responses they provide thus could vary depending on time, and circumstances. A critical thinking person would provide consistent response in different situations, trying to map and analyze situation. So a lawyer asks lot of questions in different stages in different circumstances just to see, how much critical you are in your thinking.

Right to information act (RIT) allows a common man to question the procedures and seek information from governance related work. Asking questions of the right kind is an extremely effective tool in maintaining transparency in procedures, because again, if there is any discrepancy in the answer, it implies that, a correct procedure is not followed and depending on the laws of country, the governing body could be sued in the legal ways.

So, asking questions is an important aspect of our day to day life. Ever wondered, why you brush your teeth in a particular way only. Most of us think brushing teeth is an mundane activity which just gets done automatically as a habit. But if you think, it involves lot of things, if you do not provide correct attention while brushing, you might not brush teeth properly and might damage them in the long run. If you do not use the correct toothbrush, you might hurt tissues in your mouth. If you do not use correct sodium content in your toothpaste, you might deplete the tooth enamel in the long run. So, there is lot of thought that goes behind brushing. Well, there are tons of activities that we do daily in our life, which could be improved for our own benefits by paying a little more attention and being in presence, and asking the question, Is what I am doing a correct way of doing it? Could there be a better way?

And I guess by paying such attention one can reduce the extra money which people tend to pay for recovering from different type of pains, which come in the longer run, if enough attention is not paid at right time. Well, I strongly believe, people just are so unaware of so many things, that they just do not want to test their brains ability and learn new things.

Asking question is thus an integral part of a rich education experience, which in turn keeps us fit, healthy and peaceful for a long duration. Forming simple questions is relatively easy, but when the simple questions end, finding complex questions is an intense rigorous activity and chances are that your brain will hurt. Integrating all knowledge to ask questions and come up with an analysis is an extremely complex task, which not many can do. Brain hurting is awesome. Why? Because first it proves that you definitely have a brain. Second, when brain hurts for the right reason, right amount of new neurons integration happens inside brain, which activates your brain to be more sharp. So if you hurt your brain in the right amount for a considerable time, chances are that you will find yourself more clever. Isn't it great?

Ignorance is definitely not bliss according to me. More knowledge might bring more pain in terms of realization of working of different aspects of life, and why it happens the way it happens. But once that pain eases, there is tremendous composure in terms of finding the answers to the right questions, which is an extremely worthy process and gives a feeling of certain accomplishment. And feeling accomplished is an important aspect of human existence as that gives a person his identity.

So ask questions. Have your own identity :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tornedos and education

American states were again hit by powerful tornados that destroyed huge amount of property and resulted into 40 casualties. While swifting through the photo essay on www.Time.com I was prominently thinking about the after impacts of such natural disasters, which totally change the course of life for the affected.

I was particularly sad to see the amount of destructions being made to public property such as school buildings and children swifting through the leftovers from destroyed school buildings. What is the impact of such disasters on lives of these young kids?

This is a world of competition. We keep on hearing, seeing and witnessing that around. Such a competition that people will go to any extent to be unethical in right manner, to protect their interest to stay afloat in the competition. Its the survival of the fittest. What gives them authority to compete? Competition could be of different types. Intellectual competition, monetary competition etc. In intellectual competition, you are a winner only if you are persistent and understand the basics very firmly. There are quite a very few rockstars, when it comes to intellectual stardom. Why? First because it is a skill that usually needs extreme nurturing and builds on the past. What do I mean by that? what I mean is, if you grew up in a wrong environment, chances are that you picked up wrong things, and wasted a lot of time of your life, when you could have actually learned lot many good things. Your intellectual abilities were left underdeveloped because they never got exposed to lot of formal ways of learning. Making money vs making intelligence are two extremely different things. Making money is comparatively easy. I go outside and rob a person. I have money with me. Intelligence is not the same. You can not rob another person of his intelligence. Where I am heading to, with all this gibberish?

Point is. If tornado's or any natural disaster destroys property and change the course of life for people. How do these kids who lost so much of time because of no fault of theirs will ever compensate for that gap which they faced in their education?

Now this brought me back to my second thought. Is it dependent on society or individual? For example. In a country like Japan, USA where people have extremely strong ethics, where people understand the value of time, things are extremely productive. People are aware that such problems will arrive in kids psychologically, and take care of the same. But if we consider developing countries like India, where people are so unethical and the rule of survival at the cost of others are so much prevalent, people actually might behave in a totally different manner. They actually might feel this is an opportunity where their competition is removed altogether? Corruption starts even at such recovery levels.

So the question is, is the professional attitude, never say die attitude of these so called modern professional societies like Japan, USA is built because in the first place they are always being surrounded by such natural threats? Because they know, they will have to stay disciplined to move ahead in life, because such disasters will keep on happening? And is the total chaos that we see in lets say Indian situations is because people are so lethargic and unprofessional and do not understand value of time, that they believe nothing great changes if some people in their country suffer.

If this is the case, how will these underdeveloped countries ever reach developed status? Because its the question of attitude? Does developed status only means, lots of money and constant media projected boasting of high GDP and economic growth?

I beg to differ.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Are IITs the only best places for Tech education?

Indians boast of IITs as being the cream institutions of their country. Well, that is true, but here is a new angle of looking at the same story.

Except for the few IITs like say till some years ago 7 IITs and now 15 IITs, the rest of the educational institutes in India were privately owned. Engineering college privatization started from the state of Karnataka, where ministers started launching opening colleges as they saw a huge opportunity in minting money from this path. Family bound Indian parents were always interested in making a best future for their kids education wise and a country where there is dearth of opportunities. So hundreds of colleges were born with total disregard to quality and so the engineering dream of Indian kids started. And soon it flowed to other states, like Maharashtra, where politicians took no time on establishing their own private colleges. Engineering colleges were soon converted to deemed universities and under a single campus, one could get education starting from junior K.G to advanced engineering degrees, management degrees, medical degrees. Quality was never a criteria because when you have so much of a demand, any thing sells. That is the basic law of economics and it was aptly at work in India.

Only IIT's boasted qualified faculty such as PhDs. The rest of the faculty as one can guess did not have enough qualification to teach, but since India never believed in PhDs, all these faculty was accepted with its low standards. With the advent of IT and outsourcing from 2001 year onwards, India started witnessing Software outsourcing wave, where people started getting paid in handsome amount as compared to the rest of the working class in India and soon rush to outsourcing based jobs started. Point to be noted is, in this rush, Computer Engineering faculty's standard and quality got degraded to new worst levels, as people never turned up to college teacher jobs as salary's offered there were pathetically low as compared to the prestige, infrastructure and status offered by a software job.

So now we are in a state in present India, where IIT's are considered cream institutes and the rest of them are so pathetic that one can not even compare them with IITs. Well, IITs too have downgraded in their quality over a period of time because of Indian conditions such as corruption etc, but atleast one has a guarantee that the teacher teaching there is a qualified PhD. PhD degrees sell in India for few thousand Rs. So I do not ever consider validity of a PhD degree, unless it is obtained from IISC, few IITs and couple of other so called premier institutes.

That raises the question. Is cream status of IIT justifiable? When government fails to create quality education for masses, is it valid to call a few institutes which it created (Indias first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru created IITs and IIMs) as its cream? Isn't it hypocrisy, that you do not raise standard for others, ignore the mass destruction of quality, and keep on boasting about the few institutes which were created some decades ago, as your cream? Is it not a crime to fail to create good institutes in 3,4 decades and deprive millions of young Indians quality education that they deserve, rather than keeping the vested interest of their own in mind while creating new private institutes for churning out money as people have no options. Is it justifiable to boast about the IIT JEE exam being toughest and only brightest being able to crack it? Does it indicate that the rest who failed it, were dumb and deserve to study in such pathetic conditions that their careers could get jeopardized?

Whenever I think of these questions. I feel a deep unrest about the so called hypocritical Indian behavior, which I keep on observing every day around me. Indians take a huge pride in self boasting, when in reality they do not at all understand, how they lack so many things.

IITs, I do not consider you as cream institutes, because you are given that status, because of vested interests of our politicians. I believe that is the reality.The way Indian government totally ignores quality of education for masses in India and lacks any vision of any sort in making this country self sufficient in technology, education and research makes me wonder, why thousands of those students who migrate to developed countries to seek higher education, are not a mere reflection of the sad Indian society, who really is not interested in real quality education. Because I do not understand how these people do not feel a strong desire to change the way things work back in their country, because their kids, will have to suffer the same trauma again in some years. Or is it the case that the Indian society has lost its thinking abilities under constant glittering value of sudden flow of money in their lives?

Do not know. But the whole scenario is extremely depressing. Government plays with future and careers of millions of deserving kids, who realize the things they have lost, once they are prime their innocent days and then they really can not do anything, except develop new found expectations from their own kids to fulfill.

I feel its a mentality problem.