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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Education on Sale

A recent article in TOI read the following "225 B-schools, 52 engineering colleges close in 2 years" . Upon reading it further i made a note of some of the facts presented in the write up and they were startling. 

  • Since 2011, 225 B-schools and over 50 engineering colleges across India have downed shutters. 
  • For the first time, overall growth of MBA education is negative in the books of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). In 2011-12, 146 new B-schools came up and 124 that were already running closed down. This year so far, 101 management colleges have closed down, only 82 have started.
  • Similar is the story with the Master of Computer Application (MCA) course—84 colleges stopped offering the programme this year; only 27 started MCA courses.
Degrees are for namesake
Degrees are for namesake
These facts only point out at the number of colleges that went off the radar but it did not touch upon the plight of students who passed off from these colleges. We all can comfortably agree that these institutions downed their shutters because they could not provide quality education , world class infrastructure and most importantly jobs to the students. The hapless students would have chosen these anonymous colleges at that point of time because of myriad reasons. The opportunity to get a job is lost but the grave issue is the opportunity cost. 

The student did spend a good 2-3 years to earn a professional degree but at the end of it this is not sufficient enough to substantiate their claim for the skills learnt and the knowledge acquired. Most importantly we need to understand the cost to fund this education. In today's era this figure has even spiraled northwards, and one needs to muster 10-15 Lakhs to complete a graduation and masters degree. Self funding for these grad courses are decreasing day by day and the trend is to go for education loans that are as easy as buying a new mobile connection. First the authorities approve of these fly by night colleges and then the banks join the party by disbursing loans to their students. The student enrolls himself in a college which has no future and can't even guarantee him or her a future as well. The depressing part of this episode is the financial liability that the poor student undertakes with a hope that this can be paid off, after the job placement. A reality check between the EMI rates for the education loan and the take home salary will clear all confusion. This is a nonviable proposition even if you land a mediocre job. We are creating a workforce that is low on employability , is under financial burden and not even sure of the future ahead.

The criteria for opening these professional colleges cannot be limited only to availability of land , mortar and brick structure and political clout .The mushrooming of colleges everyday is a sign of this pact between the policy makers , government bodies and the groups who have deep pockets. Rather than giving these unscrupulous persons a free hand to spoil careers and our nation's future we should identify and shun such establishments. Efforts should be made to discuss this vicious cycle of education with the students community  and the opportunity cost of the same needs to be worked out. The motive should not be, to just earn a college degree but to acquire knowledge , skills and perfection in the chosen field of study. The harder the route to success is the better equipped one is for the future battles.

Students !! The next time when you come across a college advertisement ,their job placement promises and a esteemed degree that will serve you well , just beware and skeptical .

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Don't Rush The Good Things

Relish the moments, don't rush by
Relish the moments, don't rush by
Last week while standing at the airport ticket counter i was surprised to see a pile of voter id cards with the airline staff. I was intrigued by this collection and upon inquiring, found out that the travelers forgot these cards at the counter,while getting their tickets issued. This made me wonder what would could have been the  reason for this occurrence. My mind concluded that these people must have been in hurry and in that state of  frenzy they forgot their document at the counter. This event further leads me to choosing between two important things; first catching the flight and the other not losing our valued possessions. By valued possession i would mean mobile phones, wallets , documents , personal belonging etc., because losing any of them while traveling can cause lots of stress and inconvenience. Out of these two choices none of them can happen in isolation and they must mutually co exist for us to carry our day to day work and  travel. The mind has to multitask and be aware of the surroundings while carrying out an intended activity.

So analyzing further, i deduce that these days our minds are stressed , overworked and over burdened. The competition is so tough that being good is not a  option any more, we have to be the best in our fields. If we  don't meet the expectations someone else will, and younger generation is always a  notch better than the former. Since we are living in a knowledge era it is the intellectual capital and grey cells that play the most vital role in conducting ourselves and our businesses. For sure there will be a cap to the limit one can push his or her mind but then again, there are others who will keep on raising the benchmark day by day. The best possible scenario that emerges out is being smart , being aware, remain competitive and paradoxically "GO SLOW". Here i will introduce to you all the concept of ' The Slow Movement'.

From Wikipedia : Professor Guttorm Fløistad summarizes 'The Slow Movement philosophy'

"The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today. It could however be useful to remind everyone that our basic needs never change. The need to be seen and appreciated ! It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a little love! This is given only through slowness in human relations. In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal."

Traditionally we lived in joint families, communities that had a limited geographical area and spread. The bonds between people were strong and everyone had time to share and care. With the boundaries of our aspirations and available options in life getting bigger and bigger the mad rush has no stopping. There is no time to look back or reach out for things that make up a real and happy life. This hurry to perform and persist is causing lots of stress which is making us poorer by 'Quality Time'.Stress is leading to time crunch which in turn is taking us away from our people, our culture, our places and our relations.We are not only rushing at work but also our food, our family time, our relaxation time and even our leisure time.Probably people would agree with me that we were more happier during the times when means were limited and time was unlimited. 

The good news is there is an option, an approach to reclaim our happiness and lead a stress free life. The only effort that is required from us is changing our attitude and bring a shift in our thinking processes. Let me clarify i am not propagating slow work or slow actions and supporting inefficiency. All i am discussing here is the way to go slow and still be a winner in all walks of life.

Some ways to re look at the way we do things:

1. Travel Slow - Wherever you are connect to the place and persons, take out time to appreciate the difference. Take out time to visit local places , eat local local food and feel at home.

2. Slow Food - Relish the food served on the plate, make a connection to the farm it grew, the effort it took to prepare and feel privileged to share it with your family members. Eat the serving slowly thereby relishing the rich taste and savoring the love and affection of the one who cooked it for us.

3. Slow Work - Strive for excellence in whatever little you do. It is not the quantity that will matter but the quality that will define you work acumen. So, when the only differentiation is excellence why not work slow thereby giving our best and outperforming others. For that to happen our work demands our quality time too and we need to deep dive to ensure perfection and individual satisfaction. 

4.  Slow Living - Choose priorities in life, get away with the clutter and mundane events, work out a plan to make self and others around happy. Look for happiness in small things , rejuvenate your senses with the pristine beauty of things, be childlike and open your arms to a slow yet connected world. Take out time for family, friends, relatives and feel fortunate to have whatever god gave you.

There is a website that talks of this philosophy in much more detail. 

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Diversity - Inclusion Inspires Innovation

Poem on Diversity Inclusion
Diversity Inclusion
Differences in culture, race, ethnicity,
Age, gender and ability
Personal traits and life experiences,
Views, learning's shape our identity

Existences so different and this is diversity.

Promoting people from all walks of life,
Providing an equal opportunity
Creating a workplace and an environment,
That promises fairness and equality

Inclusive growth thrives on diversity.
Differences inform, enrich and empower,
Present entirely new possibility
Together we create a better world,
Building on our collective capacity

The core of our strengths rests in diversity

Coming up with new ideas and better solutions,
Innovating, requires thinking differently.
Benchmarks to be breached, bars to be raised,
Depends on differences as on aggregate ability

Creativity and Innovation is born out of diversity.

Enriching our performances,
Creating client value vastly
We celebrate our work,
Transforming lives collaboratively.

Our growth and progress lies in our diversity !!