Dec 12, 2010

On India and education

I opened blogger and happened to see that i wrote 99 posts so far. "Wow", i exclaimed. "I am going to write my 100th post. What should I write? Shouldn't that be something special?". 
Everytime something interest me, I will MARK that topic in my bookmarks for writing . Later, during the weekends, I will start working on them and publish them. There are some blogs which I write for months, by frequently composing them part-by-part and I will save them in drafts before I finally publish them one day. The bookmark list is close to some 20 now and I couldn't steal that extra time to blog them these days. I was hovering over the list as I spotted a topic on Indian Education. Thought it ought to be a pressing problem and I choose it right away. 

That Pressing Problem:
It read, "India doesn't figure in world top-100 universities". "Whaaattttt???", i jumped outta my seat and clicked the news article. Someone, somehow managed  to take a list of top universities across all the continents. My country did not make it to the top 100. The most prestigious institution in our country is IIT's and IIS'. Even they managed to end-up just near the 130-spot. I was simply shocked to see that.

First, Is this stat REAL? On what basis, someone adjudges an institution? Did s/he graduate from all these institutions and took a note of each? Truly Madly. Definitely not that case. So, do they prepare standard parameters and throw questionnaires at students? or Take Polls? How can someone actually do that? I will be surprised If the metrics are indeed right.

If what Chetan wrote about IIT Standards in Five Point Someone is true, then I wouldn't be surprised with this ranking. Like how Aamir Khan ask in 3 Idiots movie, How many International papers have been published/presented by All the Indian Universities put together? How many all over the world and what is the % contribution from India? If the answer is a pathetic number, again the rankings holds good.

It's % the real-problem !
Why is that we are not able to dominate this arena? Aren't our people creative? Except for those who drives themselves on their own toward innovation, students are not directed in the right path. Except for some spectacular teachers, students are not guided properly by teachers. TEACHING is NOT just a job. It's beyond everything where someones puts his heart-out to bring the best out of a generation. Other noble roles are Doctors and Army. Such people do not (and should not) strive for money. They should have it as a passion to be there. Of course we do have studious students and terrific teachers. We also have moderate students and ordinary teachers. The problem is the percentage of later being well over the former. I have no right to call them 'ordinary' but I feel the way they teach is ordinary.

The typical type:
Apart from the teacher, the moderate students have no interest in going beyond the books. You can see such rare personalities one-in-a-class and they are the group I referred to as those who drives themselves on their own toward innovation. I definitely don't belong to this group. I did not have the maturity during my graduation to go beyond text books. Even, I did not have the interest to go throughout the textbook. Just like any standard Indian student, I aspired for grades. I went to college for four years and had fun. I study the night before every exam. With a decent score, I passed outta college. There are cases where a tremendous Teacher was never approached by a moderate student as well as a tremendous student not being guided by a moderate teacher

That Golden Egg:
They are very few students who went beyond all these barriers, did things the way it should be and these are the people who integrate semi-conductor chips in Intel, Optimize search engines in Google and narrow down to nano-meter calculations in NASA. This means, the Little few HAVE NOT given back what they learnt to the country. It's like your hen lays once in one hundred days and the only hatched chicken runs away. If the best students are choosing other options, Teaching positions are filled by moderate candidates. They  in-turn produce moderate students. If the above two steps keep repeating again and again, one fine day, all that will be left is way-below-the-average.

The origin of 'Change':
The change should originate from all layers. From the student, to the teacher, to the management and include the government if you want. From what I have seen, Students in general never aspired for inventions and innovation. Part of those who did, had no idea how to do it. They weren't guided properly and they got lost in the crowd. The remaining were smart enough to find the way on their own, not only to innovation, but also the way to go outta the country. Youngsters simply want to enjoy life in college, settle in a moderate job, reasonable enough for a living. "Software education not that good in India", said Kaspersky CEO. He quoted the inability to do complicated tasks that requires strong knowledge in Mathematics and Cryptography as the reason. Though India is a major IT hub in the world, the kind of work done here isn't that complex. My assumption may be wrong but I strongly feel it that way. The kind of work that I (and people around me) do today, rarely or hardly involve a complex mathematical computation. Most of the software engineers are just a skilled White-collar Labor. Just compare the No. of R&D centers and Development centers of top firms available here and everywhere else.

Importing the exported:
The leading universities in that ranking list are from the U.S. I have no idea about the quality of education carried out there, but there should be a difference. After all, we are comparing two entirely different democratic countries and so there is no wonder in the difference. Also majority of the best students and teachers are somewhere in the U.S, the rest in Europe, UK and other places. These ran-away chickens can consider coming back to their nest, become a part of where they were before, produce more such chickens and help make education better. Not only they bring along themselves, but also the kind of education they were imparted.  For the change to happen, the way education is carried out should also change. Some talks are already in progress

The bigger picture:
Edison did not invent the electric bulb for America alone. He gave it to mankind. None of us are going to live for a light year. The little time we spend here, can try and make life for mankind better than what it was now rather than fighting/complaining against each other. Moving out of the country is the individual's interest but it's just that we need some assistance here as the balance is missing somewhere. Let's hope It will get better. I liked the idea proposed in 3 Idiots movie. That's the way education is meant to be!

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