Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A day in the Life of a Village Kiosk Operator

I am dedicating the IIT Global special articles blog to a very special friend Elizabeth Alexander for the first Original Post to IIT Global Group.

Date: Wed Aug 14, 2002 7:59 pm

A day in the Life of a Village Kiosk Operator


This is not a technical article. In fact it has deliberately stayedaway from being one. It was primarily written to give people aflavour of what access to the Internet can mean in the lives ofpeople in rural India. The world that it opens up for them and thepotential it has for bringing significant change in their lives isenormous. The article stays away from issues of connectivity,bandwidth and access devices and instead concentrates on the impactthat this can create.n-Logue is a rural Internet Service provider dedicated to providingInternet access to villages in India. It was incubated by Dr AshokJhunjhunwala and other alumni of IIT-madras. What is written in thearticle is based on their work in the District of Madurai in TamilNadu, South India.


Elizabeth Alexander graduated from IIT-Madras in 1987. After completing her management from IIM-L, she worked in the software industry for several years before joining n-Logue to participate in its mission to bring Internet to rural India.


A day in the Life of a Village Kiosk Operator

Rosy opens her PC, logins into Yahoo chat and types out amessage. "Madhu, are you there?" Comes the reply "Yes, what's the matter"."Can you tell me where I can find information on colleges which offerdiploma courses in Automobile engineering?""Give me a few minutes. I'll find out and send you an email". Fiveminutes later she opens the email to discover a few urls which shetypes into her browser window and does her search.

Common enough scenario, right? Happens between friends all the time. Easiest way to get information using the Internet and a little helpfrom your friends.Except that Rosy lives in a small village in Tamil Nadu called Padinettamkudi, 35 kilometres from the nearest big city (Madurai). And Madhu sits in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, which is 200 Km away. Padinettamkudi has about 1000 people, does not have any public telephones, no road leading to the village and the local schooloffers classes only up to class eight. A few months ago, most people there had not even seen a PC, much less used one. And today, in this little village, Rosy makes more than Rs.4000 a month selling Internet and PC-based services to the people there.This is not a dream for the future. It is a reality. And Rosy is one of the many stakeholders in a mission to make this a part of every rural Indian's reality. For Rosy is a Village Internet Kiosk Operator. She manages a kiosk in her village, set up for her with the assistance of n-Logue, a Rural Internet Service Provider, incubated by the TeNeT Group of IIT-Madras.

Using this and all the services n-Logue enables for her, she is able to bring the benefits of the Internet to the people of Padinettamkudi.The Kiosk equipment cost Rs. 51,500. It was bought by a local teashop owner, taking a loan from a bank, Since he did not know how to operate a computer, he appointed Rosy to run the kiosk for him. She gets a salary and a percentage of the profits.

Picture this. A woman walks into her kiosk with a paper in her hand. "I need a birth certificate for my daughter. She starts school in a few weeks."Rosy takes down the necessary details - name of the girl, name ofparents, date of birth, place of birth, name of hospital - typing them into a document as she asks for them. Then types out an email to a Government Officer at the Taluk Office(who dispenses Birth Certificates), attaches the document and sends it off. "As soon as I get the acknowledgement, I shall let you know", she tells the woman. "When the certificate is ready, they will send amessage informing us. That would be Rs. 10, please."

Besides this, she can also apply for a variety of other certificates(Income, Community, Pension, etc), send complaints regarding malfunctioning water pumps, or just send emails on various complaints to the local Government officials. They even sent one to the Chief Minister's Grievance cell and received an acknowledgement, which she is most proud of.

The support of the State and District Government officials has been very useful in making all this happen. She has already had two visitsfrom the State's IT Secretary.

In walk a group of women. They want to know their fortune. She accesses the 'Astrology' page of a popular Tamil portal called Webulagam. Each woman gives her a number at random which she types in and then reads out the corresponding forecast that appears on the screen.

To the woman wanting the birth certificate, this is new. A veteranexplains to her, "This is like Parrot Astrology. But much more powerful. You see it's from a computer". And you only pay 2 Rupees."Can I try?" And Rosy has one more customer.

A man brings in an elderly relative. It's his uncle and he has cataract in both eyes. Rosy asks him a few questions that she reads to him from aquestionnaire posted on the local n-Logue website."What is your name ?. How old are you ?. Describe in detail the symptoms you experience. Do you feel any pain in the left eye / right eye /both eyes..." Ten questions in all.The answers are recorded in a voice file, in the patient's own words.Then she takes a picture of each eye, expertly managing a torch and the camera and the mouse all by herself. She was trained in the technique by a doctor at the Aravind EyeHospital. She sends the picture and the voice file to the hospital. There is another mail which has just come back from the hospital inresponse to a similar complaint sent the day before. The attached letter says in Tamil, "Dear Arumugam, please come to theFree Section of the Aravind Eye Hospital at 10.30 AM on any day and hand over this letter to Nurse Indrani who is at the reception. You will be taken for the necessary treatment immediately. The bus you need to take is ...".

Besides the eye ailments, the other service she provides is tests for myopia for school children. Many children in her village do not know that the reason the world looked so blurred all the time is because they needed spectacles. Now, using a simple eye-chart, she is able to do a preliminary test and ascertain if they need to go for a more comprehensive test. If they do, she sends another mail to Aravind making an appointment for them.

Next in line are her regular students. Except that they are three old men and they are there because they cannot read. She has a software developed by a big Indian software company for the specific purpose of teaching illiterate adults to read. She takes them through a 45 minute class, patiently going over the variouswords. As the mouse moves over the words on the screen, a voice-over pronounces the words aloud. The old men are fascinated as they repeat after their electronic teacher. "Pa-dam, Pat-ta-nam, Pa-da-kkam".

Rosy will be paid by the District Literacy Mission for every person she makes literate. For her elderly students, the service is free.The next set of students is altogether different, young, confident, familiar with the external workings of computers. They are there todo some browsing and check their emails. But they don't need Rosy'shelp. And none of them had ever touched a computer before Rosy's kiosk was set up.One of them sends a mail to a friend. "You know, he is working in Singapore. In a software company", he says proudly." I am also going to work in software."There are several people from Rosy's village in Singapore, and still more in Dubai. But they are not in 'software'. Most of them are employed as construction workers, mechanics and so on. All of them spend a lot of money every week calling their families back home in the village, some of whom they have not seen for many months, even years.Things have changed a bit now. Some of them no longer call. They send emails. Those who can manage it, use voice or video chat. For the people in the village who cannot write, an easy utility is available.They can record short voice clips and send them as email attachments.

One man walks in whose son works as a typist in Bahrain. He has come to check if there is a message from him. To his immense excitement, there is. "My dear Appa", it says, "How is your health. I hope you have received the money. I am coming home in August. I hope you have seen a girl for me."He takes a print-out and then dictates a response for Rosy to type, "I have received the money. But your brother has not sent any so far. Tell him this from me. Come home safely. Your Chitappa has seen three girls for you. Two are BA-pass. One has done computers."He also takes a picture of himself using her web camera and sends it as an attachment. Mission accomplished, he pays for the mail and the print-out, and leaves obviously delighted with the entire experience. He will be back again tomorrow ... "Is there a message from my son?"

The next few hours are fascinating. A farmer walks in with a sample of his okra crop, disease obvious in the stem and leaves. The farmer is distraught. He could lose his entire crop. Rosy takes pictures of the diseased parts from several angles and attaches them to a mail that she types in Tamil. It's to the Tamil Nadu Agricultural College and Research Institute. "Dear Dr Selvaraj, please can you tell us what we must do for this problem." Come back tomorrow, she tells the farmer. There is bound to be a response. Today, the farmers look to Rosy for solutions to long standing problems with their crops. And she, with just a class 12 education, is able to tell them what to do. "Make a mixture of boron and nitrogen solution. Spray this on the crop ..."The remedies suggested by the faculty of the Agricultural College have helped several farmers save their crops, worth thousands of Rupees. What used to be the privileged information of an elite few has now been brought into the public domain.

A woman walks in with her chicken. Its legs are bent and it cannot walk properly. For the next few minutes, Rosy and the chicken's owner do a little dance trying to make the chicken sit still while she tries to take a picture of its legs.Finally they do and she sends the pictures to the TN Association forVeterinary and Animal Sciences. "Dear Dr Kathiresan. Please can you tell us what we must do for this problem".The chicken's owner does not have the money to pay. "Give it to me tomorrow." Credit is common in villages and Rosy knows she will get the money in a few days.

Meanwhile, another woman has walked in, attracted by the spectacle of a chicken being photographed. "My neighbour's cow has some problem. Can you send an email on that also? But how will they bring a cow into your kiosk?""There is a camera that we can carry outside and take pictures. But it's costly. When I can afford the money, I will buy that also. Meanwhile, ask her to bring her cow to the door. I'll try and take apicture using this camera."

A young man walks in. "I want to take a loan to buy an auto. How do Ido it?" She logs into the Government website and reads through thevarious schemes listed there."There are two schemes - an auto loan from TIIC and a PMRY loan. You can choose the one you want." She downloads both the forms and gives him a printout. Read it completely and come back. You can send your loan application directly to the GM-District Industries Centre from here.

"An older man walks in. He is to travel to Tirunelveli by train that day.His ticket was on a wait list and he wants to check if it has been confirmed. A week ago she had booked it for him by sending an email to a travel agent in Madurai. The man booked the ticket and sent the ticket details back to his client by another email.By going to the website of the Indian Railways, it is possible tocheck the status of the ticket. Waitlist number 1, it says. "You will definitely get a confirmed seat. You may as well go". All he has to do now is go to the travelagent's office and pick up

the ticket on the way to the station.

Next it's the turn of three children to have their daily English classes. Using a CD-based software, she teaches basic English grammar to the children. Normally, they find the class interesting. Today they are impatient to get it over with.

Rosy has announced a movie show at 7 PM and that's what they are waiting for. She has rented a VCD from a video library and is planning to have 1 show daily over the next three days. On Sunday, she would have 3 shows. A few more kids and a couple of women turn up and hand over the moneyto her. They are all there for the movie. Before she inserts the VCD in the drive, she checks for responses to the mails she has sent that day. There is one from the Veterinary doctor."I have seen your chick photos. It is affected by vitamin B-complexdeficiency. Purchase the medicine - tefroli or vimerol or growiplex(available in medical shop). Take one drop of medicine and give it to chick by ink filler, morning and evening to its mouth for 5 days. You can give rice polish also (arisi pudaikkumpothu varum thavidu).If any doubt contact us again"She prints it out ready to hand over to the owner of the 'chick' the next day.

As she does so, a young man walks in. "Did you get the information about the automobile engineering diploma?""Yes, I did, here they are". He runs through the list of sites she has printed out for him. He will be back tomorrow for a more detailed study. Meanwhile, it's show-time. She presses Play and soon the little room is filled with the sounds of a popular Tamil movie song. 'Gemini, Gemini, Gemini, Gemini..."As the audience watches the small screen with rapt attention, she totals the money she has made that day. 145 rupees. She knows she needs to make at least 90 Rupees a day to break even. That's 55Rupees straight profit.This has been a good day. Tomorrow, there will be more services to offer (bus ticket booking, animal rearing training programmes, online counselling for students, contacting embassies for visa validation, legal advice online, online jobs, horoscope matching...).More services means more customers visiting her kiosk, more money to be earned.

Tomorrow will be even better...

An Inspirational Speech by Dr.V.GoplaKrishnan- IITM 1969

Albeit a bit long, this is a very inspirational speech made by Dr.Gopalkrishnan of IITMAA-1969 Btech- Mechanical, to an assembly of students at the Mookambigai Engineering College at Tiruchi,TamilNadu earlier this year. You may read this article if time permits. If you read it carefully you can read into the mind of the author, his dreams, his vision and his passion for a few things he holds close to his heart.

While we were batch mates I did not really get to know Gopal. In the last yearI have found out a lot about this silent achiever Dr.Gopalakrishnan is the GM, Products -Boilers at BHEL-Tiruchi,TamilNadu and is a member of the IITMAA-Global Group and my consultant astrologer. He has his own Fortran program for Astrological predictions and believe me he is a real Guru at it. Ramboaus
This is what he wrote in his recent letter to me while I was in UK.:

Your idea of a global group is excellent. My own ideas are fairly close. I feel that each individual can do something on his own - using the local resources - for the society. My pet idea is to put Tiruchi on the IT map, leveraging BHEL's strengths and my personal contacts. My score card so far reads -1..

A Satellite earth station, functioning now from the Regional Engg College, Tiruchi2.. The finishing School on ' Computational Engineering'.3.. DSL technology for our township, using a start-up company, created by Prof. Jhunjhunwallah of IIT,Madras.4..

I am also trying to get the local kids interested in chess.5.. As for my SELF, apart from Astrology, I am learning Vedas, Veena and am visiting Tamilnadu's Heritage temples & developinga web-site on them. From Quality, recently I have moved into a product area - Boilers -with a turnover of 1000 crores per annum.

I have refused an offer to move to Delhi, to head a proposed subsidiary of BHEL on IT.

I wish I had learnt in my younger days...
By Dr.V.Gopalakrishnan

Annual day speech, Mookambikai Engg College, Tiruchi, TamilNadu,
Dated 21 03 2002

Your Principal Sri Venugopalan should take the credit (or the blame)for this funny sounding topic. When he invited me for this lecture, he didn't suggest any topic. HE KNOWS AND I KNOW WHAT IS USUALLY SPOKEN ON SUCH OCCASIONS. But when I got the official letter, it said something like "Give an inspiring talk". That was a tall order. Mundane talks meant for annual days are rarely inspiring. I thought that at least I will choose an odd topic, for that gives me a fighting chance to meet his expectations, at least half way. Often we give the word experience to what is basically existence. Experience sounds more soothing to the soul. I have thirty plus years of existence or experience in the industry. In my case, it is from the same factory and so it is really thirty times one year experience. A by-product of this experience is hindsight, which is always perfect. Based on the hindsight born of experience, I have some strong opinions about my early education at IIT and elsewhere and what it should have been.

The trigger came from my e-group - the 'IITMadras-69' e-group. It is said that small minds gossip about people; better minds follow events and great minds discuss issues.

We generally gossip about ourclass mates. We resort to nostalgia. Once in a way take up some useful topic. This was one such. What I present below is a kind of consensus we had arrived at - what we wish we had learnt in our younger days- which would have either made us better engineers or better men or both. When I say better, I do not necessarily mean successful in a worldly sense. Why I say that may become clearer as we go along. I am not that egoistic or optimistic to think that what I am going to say will have an impact on the syllabus in IIT or Mookambikaior elsewhere, in the near future. Some of the suggestions may also be superfluous if IIT or somebody else has possibly implemented them. The modern curriculum is more dynamic than what I have seen in my days. In any case, let me march on with my speech or advice, because I have to fill up the time allotted to me - the very purpose for which I have been invited.

Educating or entertaining or inspiring you is purely incidental.
1) The first topic may surprise many of you. During my early days in IIT, I used to wonder about the difference between engineering and technology or more specifically between a BE and a B.Tech. Yesterday my son asked me the very same question; he has just finished his school and is applying for some engineering courses. The best answer I could give him was that technology was applied engineering while engineering was applied science. I do not know better nor I am satisfied with the answer. Incidentally Louis Pasteur says that there are no such things as applied sciences - only applications of sciences. I realized then that I ought to know how the word technology came into existence and how it evolved. To know about, I should perhaps start with the evolution of Science. I wish I had learnt in my college days a little more about the evolution of Science and technology from the first Neanderthal man's stone-tool to the gadgetry of the21st century.

How did SCIENCE evolve? It simply evolved with mankind. The first man who began to use a stone was probably the earliest Scientist. The bow is the first machine that man made and its maker, the first mechanical engineer. The taming of fire and the inventionof the wheel are among the greatest achievements of mankind to date and are comparable to the landing on moon and the PC. After all, discovery is seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what no body has thought. This definition is equally applicable to the Stone Ages. At every stage of the evolution, somebody has used the sciences of his times to meet practical needs and such persons are called engineers and technologists. They liberated humans from the drudgery of hardlabor. They made humans mobile and conquered distances; they harnessed the energy locked up in natural elements. They thus supported the growth of civilisation and enhanced the quality of life.

Rewind Earth, by say, two hundred years ! No electricity, no airplanes, no cars, no TV, no cinema, no CD players, no computers, no antibiotics, no vaccines, no space travel, no fast food, no Mookambikai engineering college, no annual days! Believe me, engineers are behind all these. My first class at IIT, Madras was on Corioli's acceleration in Physics by a German professor, with poor English. I couldn't followa bit of it. As days went by, there were other topics and other subjects and the experience recurred with sickening regularity; But not one course gave me a perspective on the professional life I was about to embark on - save some subject like Production Management, taught in the final year. There should have been a course right in the first year on the Historic Importance of Engineers as liberators of human beings. Engineering that way would appeal to anybody's youthful idealism!

I will now go to a related topic. It would have been inspiring to have known about of some of the greatest engineers that ever existed and about the surviving masterpieces of antiquity. How many of us have wondered about the Civil engg aspects of Thanjavur Temple or Grand Anicut or about the metallurgical aspectsof the Great Iron pillar in Delhi or the bronze statues of Nataraja from in and around Kumbakonam! At least, why not some colleges,think of project works on these topics?

1 b) I sometimes wonder whether the 'brick and mortar' engineers have any role models at all! I mean of the Einstein or Bill Gates class! It is a moot point whether students of BSc. Physics get excited about Einstein or CVRaman being a physicist! But see it in a different way! Why do the students prefer IT today? Forget its present tribulations; IT has captured the imagination of the youngsters through its excellent role mode ls likeNarayana Murthy, Azim Premji , Sabeer Bhatia and Desh Deshpande- all Indians, ideal role models comparable to Sachin Tendulkar and Viswanathan Anand, who have made it big at the international level- enough to have deeply influenced the youngsters. Then there is Bill Gates of USA. Where are the role models in other branches of Engineering? Tata, Birla and Ambani in India or Jack Welch and Percy Barnevik globally? (I prefer Westinghouse, whose biographyI have read). But for your information, Jack Welch came last in a popularity poll for celebrities in USA and reported in Time or Newsweek - I don't remember which; Bill Gates, came first, ahead of cine stars, sports heroes & politicians. You can drawyour own conclusions!

1.c) I also wished that I had learned about the limitations relating to several popular laws - like the laws of mechanics by Newton or the limits of Euclidean geometry in representing physical laws. I learned later, to my horror, that Newton's laws are only approximate - when it comes to the planetary motions, leave alone atomic physics. While talking about Bohr's model, somebody should have told me about quarks and mesons. Only when I went into spherical trigonometry later on my own that I learnt that the sum of the angles of a spherical triangle is a variable and it is always greater than 180 degrees! Only much later did I learn that it is the customary fate of scientific truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions. Even Einstein had difficulties in accepting Quantum Theory when it was first proposed! He couldn't accept the concept of Probability in Physics and declared that God does not play dice with the Universe! He was proved totally wrong later!

In effect, every student should early on know what are the limits and puzzles of laws that engineers use in their profession. A good course on what we know about physical laws and the known controversies would have been useful. So, these are the thoughts that came to my mind when I mentioned about the history of Engineering!

2) Now I go on to the second topic, namely ethics in Engineering. It is interesting to note that Osama Bin Laden had studied engineering and two of the terrorists responsible for the destruction of World Trade Center in New York were engineers.You young engineers, you are about to acquire knowledge that endows you with power to either benefit or destroy mankind. You are something like an L-board driver, who has a huge weapon in his hand with which he can kill people, albeit unintentionally! I wish the students are taught about ethics and morality in the practice of engineering early on. It is high time engineers take an oath similar to the Socratic oath of medical professionals. Something like, ''Above all do not cause harm to my fellowmen ''or its equivalent.

Enron and Arthur Anderson episodes have lessons to teach to syllabus framers. One is an American corporate icon collapsing amid charges of fraud; in the process the other - one of the world's most respected audit firms - gets tainted. There is a predatory, corrupting side to the new corporate system, which is not based on social responsibility. And this new theory of greed is getting promoted in the world's best business schools. I will come back to Business schools a little later. While in college, I implicitly learnt -but nobody taught me -that engineers are morally neutral in matters of inventions and innovations. If an engineer has used his talents in developing a Neutron bomb, well, he has no views on that.

Today I realise thatwhat is called for is not a neutral stand but a positive stand. I should have been taught that Engineers are to be responsible members of a civil society - they must at all times put their professional integrity and ethics above pecuniary motives. Professional oaths offer no guarantee against evil but it provides an explicit standard for an engineer with a good conscience in dealingwith Ethical issues from corruption to projects of mass destruction.

3) I now move on to Environmental issues. It is Technology which led to pollution, poison gas, Ozone depletion, Greenhouse effect, depletion of fossil fuels, and non-degradable plastics! Reason? Industrialisation without an integrated approach! We Engineers as a collective lot are responsible for all these. No one should approach the temple of science with the soul of a money changer -an analogy given in Bible. But that is precisely the problem.Then what is the solution? We ourselves again! Every engineer must know and intimately understand the first principle of Ecology, that is, ''You can't do just one thing alone''. It affects the rest of the system. Whether one builds a nuclear power plant or a dam or a highway, he or she is responsible for understanding the extraneous consequences and risks. Every student should be taught to think holistically about every project they are about to embark on professionally. In design, scale and appropriateness becomes paramount. Our engineering graduates should be able to apply their knowledge to solve problems right in their own backyards, such as a design of Rain Water Collection Systems or a solar power system.The possibilities for projects in local communities are endless.Technology should always be used for human welfare. It should be used to solve poverty and starvation and unemployment.

"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind" said Albert Einstein. Here we can take the word religion as a broad concern for the welfare of humanity.

4) Next, I believe that in this age of rapid technological change, an average engineer could easily become obsolete within five to six years without continuing education. Many of us in Govt services and public sectors get away with it, but that cannot be generalsied. Technological obsolescence had been the bane of India from time immemorial and we don't seem to have learned our lessons.When Alexander invaded India with his swift horses, we had only slow elephants to fight him with. We learnt no lessons from our defeat at his hands. Centuries later, we lost again to Babar becausewe were still loyal to elephants! Further, we had only muskets to counter Babar's canons! That defeat is not to be forgotten by creating a controversy about Babar's Masjid. Even in 1962, the Chinese humiliated us because they had modern arms and we had none. Why we built temple halls with a thousand pillars a millennium after others had mastered the design of the arch ? Why we built the great sundial in Jantar Mantar in Delhi long after telescopes had become commonplace? Why we were manufacturing only Ambassador and Fiat cars, till into the 90s? We blame our cricketers for their poor fielding, but do we provide them with good turfs, where they can afford to dive like Jonty Rhodes? We blame our hockey players, but how many regularly play on Astro turf? Today, even a chess player needs a computer and a clock to improve. We want to teach Java and Visual Basic to school children without computers or with old 286s. I am only trying to explain that excellence in any filed has a technological component.Why do we stick to obsolete technology all the time, unmindful of the consequences? It is then important that every engineering graduate should anticipate the pace of change and acquire skills of self-studyand lifelong learning that will come in handy in their future

5) I next move on to Management . We the practicing managers cynically say that the first myth of management is that exists. Ultimately, Management is nothing but common sense, whatever the professors may say. But common sense is not very common. Speaking of Personal Experiences, when I graduated from IIT, Madras in 1969, it was a dream to join IIM A or C for further studies. The mission? To specialise in marketing and join Hindustan Lever or Colgate and sell soaps and tooth-pastes for the rest of your lives! Should a mechanical engineer be wasted in selling toothpaste and soaps? But the salary in those days forMBAs was more than twice that of engineers. BHEL ETs used to geta princely Rs 400.p.m. So jealousy for IIMs and MBAs continues in my heart even now. And jealousy is the best form of praise. One of the facts of professional life is that after a few years every engineer becomes a manager of sorts - sometimes of projects or even of companies. One-third of all CEOs of Fortune-500 companies in the US is made up engineering graduates. Thus it is imperative that engineers learn within the four or five year span of educationa little bit of entrepreneurship, project management, finance, economics, and the basics of creating and managing teams.

It is really onerous and expensive for a BE graduate to go on to get a Management Degree by going to IIM for an additional two years. Much of what one learns in management and finance courses should be relatively easy for any BE student. Why do you want to become a manager? Is it because of the extra salary, the perks and the social status? Nothing wrong in that. But what motivates a real manager is something else. When you become a manager, you can at last control your own work - not all of it,but most of it. You can change things. You can do things differently. You can influence the way in which your staff work. You can shape your own work environment. Is it not exciting? If so, you have the makings of a real manager. A course on management also prepares a student to face the ever changing economic scenario with more confidence. This year, business schools are reporting a dismal placement season.

Lesser mortals grapple with lay-offs, a shrinking market of "secure" jobs and foreign competition. The ultimate in management is managing yourself!

6) Next I move on to VALUES in life.
To me this is more importantthan all other aspects. No course is likely to teach it, but somekind of extra-curricular approach is welcome. I had already touched upon ethics- I will take up a few other topics - patriotism for example ; The other day, I was reading the biography of Sir CV Raman, who incidentally was born in Tiruchi. But there is no monument for him in Tiruchi nor many know where he was born. He was after all only the first Asian Scientist toget the Nobel prize! He was not a Neta - not a minister or an MLA or even a councilor! Raman says that Patriotism does not flow from chorus sounding the National anthem, but through "love of the earth that bore us, feeds and sustains us". He was against relying on foreign technology. Science can and shall advance in very simple ways.

We often payRs. 50,000 for something, which can be made for only Rs. 5,000. The balance in difference we pay for our ignorance, he used to say.

I would like to touch upon another topic, related to patriotism. In my humble opinion, there is a threat of a different kind to independent India and other developing countries, who are far too willing to give up their "long-cherished" work and business ethics to embrace the promise of future well-being held out by the West in the name of market economy. The recurrent global crises in East Asia and Latin America, coupledwith the recent economic crisis in Argentina, raises questions about the economic management paradigms enforced by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The ethical dimension of business does not mean seeking unlimited profits, like Enron.

There is great danger that self serving Western societies put down the developing nations as banal, corrupt or worse in order to improve the West's own self-image. A certain model of westernization is being imposed on the global community and the dissenters are virtually beaten into compliance or jeered into submission. India must stand up to that. India should develop its own philosophy on management relations that should lead to wealth creation and equitable distribution of wealth. We must strive for a convergence of business interest, people's desire and expectations of the masses and retain our culture of "solid ethical core". It may not be easybut at least the goal should be clear.

7) I move to another value - appreciation of nature or finer things in life. Study, examinations, books, lectures etc are but a very little part of a student's life. Education is imperfect if one does not realize that man does not live by bread alone. The finest things in life are music, color, flowers, beauty, aesthetic sense and the satisfaction derived from those. Tamilnadu has great traditions of music, dance, art and culture, for example, which makes many of its citizens take to these things.I only have sympathy for a person born in Tamilnadu but without a taste for music - not necessarily of the classical music of theCarnatic kind. It is those finer things in life that make lifeworth living.

A small advice to you; Don't be visiting only hotels and theaters in your spare time. Do a bit of trekking across the forests and mountains. One need not go to Himalayas for this. Ooty and Kodaikanal will do. Occasionally visit the Heritage sites- Temples and Forts.

Studying in IIT amidst those forests deer and snakes is something I will remember long after I have forgotten my Theory of Machines and Thermodynamics. As CV Raman says," Nature is the supreme artist; she creates forms of beauty, loveliness and color, unsurpassable". Nature is the inspiration not only for artists, painters and sculptors , but also for engineers and scientists. I can go on and on. There are other things I wish I had learned much earlier in my life - no matter where - but they are personal and subjective. It includes subjects like literature -Tamil, Englishand Sanskrit, history, music and mystisism . I have made a late start in some of these areas but age tells while learning. But I think I am approaching the point of diminishing returns. So, let me now quickly come to the CONCLUSION.

You are still students, but soon you will become responsible citizens - you will be achievers - engineers, scientists, industrialists, professors, leaders, businessmen. At that time, repay your debts to your family, your society , your country, your city, your alma mater in a million ways. Incidentally Sir CVRaman is not the only scientist to come fromTiruchi. Dr. Abdul Kalam is an alumni of St. Joseph college, Tiruchi. The great Ramanujam is from Kumbakonam, not far off from Tiruchi, on the banks of the same Cauveri. There could be many more, but my knowledge is limited. I am sure that out of this gathering, a few Ramans, Ramanujams and Abdul Kalams are going to emerge and do Tiruchi proud in the days to come.

I have read about one Nobel Laureate in literature, who was a dullhead in the school. But one teacher had faith in his literary talent. She once casually told the boy that when he writes a book later in his life, he should dedicate it to her! He did precisely that. One of you will surely win a Nobel prize, another will write a great book, yet another will start An industry, and a fourth will build a great temple . I have more faith in the younger generation than in our generation. I will tell you a small anecdote.

A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $ 100-note. He asked the audience,"Who wants this $ 100 note?" All hands went up. He then crumpled the note and then asked, "Who still wants it?". Still the hands were upin the air. Then he dropped it on the ground and ground it into thefloor with his shoe. He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty."Now who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air.

He explained then the moral of the story - No matter what he did to the money, everyone still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $ 100. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by our own wrong decisions and by circumstances and by others. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Each one is special in his own way- Don't ever forget it! Never let yesterday's disappointments overshadow tomorrow's dreams.

IIT Madras 1969 Batch