Friday, November 16, 2007

Remembering Jawaharlal Nehru - By Kumar

It was the late 50's and a young boy in a small town caught a fancy for a box camera, having seen his classmate use one. He pestered his father until, one day, the senior man took him to a camera shop. The
shopkeeper displayed his wares; the father looked at each one before flinching at the asking price.

To cut a long story short, both father and son walked out of that shop without the buy, hugging the new camera
he wanted.

In the strange way that kids sometime understand adult compulsions, the boy did not feel so bad about not having the camera.

But the hurt in his father's eyes would haunt the boy for the rest of his life.

It is fashionable today to criticise Jawaharlal Nehru, but in many ways he was like the little boy's father. His love of his country was unquestioned; he wanted the best for his people, but had so little by way of resources.

Nehru was dealing with a newborn country that had
been denuded of all wealth by its own selfish, scheming and utterly degenerate kings and nawabs in concert with a criminal entity supported by the British crown known as the East India Company.

Why did we not take up the American way at independence? Because this was not America, where immigrants from England and other places in Europe came to settle; this was our own land which we did not own. In a way, we were left like the native Americans, the "Red Indians". Ask them what the American Way did to them.

Wait, the boy's story has more. He grew up, in the normal way kids all over did, and was soon on the threshold of college. He found he was weak in chemistry; his father, who was trained in the subject, sat down with him, and tutored him everyday until the young man was
confident enough.

Sure enough, that boy made it into IIT, and into Mechanical Engineering, too: a "hot" branch in those days. His father's pride, as he introduced his son to his other fiends and associates, made the boy realise his dad was there for him when it mattered the most.

Nehru did not live to see the economic superpower his country was turning into. But you are there to witness it; spend a few moments in thought about the Father of the IITs. November 14th is his birthday.

Jawaharlal Nehru is in real danger of being forgotten. You, of all people, should never, ever, let that happen.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Umang Gupta
Chairman, PanIIT USA
Sunday, July 1, 2007

The CEO of Keynote Systems talks about the Indian Institute of Technology as engineering and business alumni gather this week in Silicon Valley.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be among the speakers who will visit Santa Clara this week when several thousand graduates of India's most prestigious university network, the Indian Institute of Technology, gather for their alumni conference.
At a time when the India is exerting a growing influence on the world stage, the IIT Alumni 2007 Global Conference offers a chance to understand the experience of a group of business, political and academic leaders who have played a particularly important role in Silicon Valley.
Representing this group of prestigious alumni -- who call themselves IITians -- is Umang Gupta, chief executive officer of Keynote Systems, the San Mateo Internet tracking firm. Gupta came to the United States during the Vietnam War and worked in the technology industry. He was one of the first employees at Oracle in Redwood City before striking out on his own.
In an hourlong interview last week, Gupta looked back on his three-plus decades of experience in the tech industry, highlighted the accomplishments of his fellow alumni, and explained the genesis and importance of the Indian Institute of Technology.
Q: Tell us a bit about the conference.
A: The seven IITs in India have probably graduated more than 100,000 alumni over the last 20 years. We refer to those alumni as the PanIIT movement. We did one event in 2003 here in Silicon Valley where I think we had more than 2,000 people. We've done subsequent events in Washington, D.C., and in Mumbai (Bombay) last year. And this one is going to be the largest, we think, with more than 4,000 people attending.
Q: This has been a powerful business network. How has it impacted the Indian business experience here?
A: IITians (graduates of IIT) are not just in business. Lots are in academia. Subra Suresh recently became the dean of engineering at MIT. We have many IITians who've done extraordinarily well in businesses. Victor Menezes was senior vice chairman of Citigroup until recently. Ajit Jain is No. 2 to Warren Buffett in the insurance business. So you have a network of people who are very well-connected, obviously very talented individuals and graduates in the lead institutions in IIT, and they certainly have quite an impact on both India and our future.
Q: With that broad a network, what are the common themes, common interests?
A: The biggest common interest is how they got into the IIT. Historically, 2,000 kids get selected out of 100,000-plus by taking a joint exam. Then you go through a five-year process of going to college together.
Even though you have seven different campuses, there are lots of intercampus activities. So we're all really pretty well connected and you have the same bonds that somebody would have if you came out of Harvard or Yale or Princeton or Dartmouth. Many IITians are also part of a particular industry. In many cases, the IT industry. The other aspect is that being Indian immigrants here, they certainly have quite an element of being connected.
Q: What things do you promote in common?
A: No 1, to galvanize and network alumni to help each other, like any other alumni organization would do. No. 2, to help strengthen our alma mater, the IITs, through faculty recruitment, research projects, donating back. No. 3 is contributing to both the local communities that you're part of, or back to India to the extent that you can help in connecting between India and the communities that you're part of.
Q: For Indians coming to the United States, what has been their experience regarding acceptance here over the past 20 or 30 years?
A: I can use my experiences. I came here in 1971 as a graduate student. This was at the height of the Vietnam War. I went to Kent State University and I absolutely had no angst or feelings of being not accepted or being discriminated against. Academic institutions are always open, they're incredibly liberal, and there's a great acceptance of folks coming from overseas. However, once you leave the institution, and you get into the working world, each one of us has had different experiences.
I was fortunate. I joined IBM as a sales guy. On the other hand, friends of mine would say that they did feel discriminated against in those days. I came out here to Silicon Valley in 1978. I was employee No. 17 at Oracle. I wrote Oracle's first business plan. I was Larry Ellison's first executive to leave to start a company of my own, which I then took public in 1993, called Gupta Technologies and really the first Indian-run software company at that time.
But I was not alone. About the same time, Vinod Khosla started Daisy Systems and after Daisy systems he co-founded Sun Microsystems and has been one of the most successful venture capitalists in the world today. So we had a few entrepreneurs, I'm going to say probably a handful, in the late '80s.
But in the '90s, the world changed. Completely. India started to deregulate. The Berlin Wall fell. There was no competing ideology to capitalism. By that time, many IITians had gone through a 20-year process of maturing in their particular jobs. Many of them had reached fairly good heights.
Rajat Gupta, who essentially graduated the same year as I did, ended up becoming head of McKinsey (consulting firm) in the mid-'90s. Arun Sarin is now CEO of Vodafone. These are all individuals who came to America in the early '70s but ended up working the ladder. You had others -- some of us here in Silicon Valley -- who ended up becoming entrepreneurs. It took time. But then the third thing happened, and that was the Internet.
Previously the river could only flow one way. You could send smart Indian guys out of college over here, and you could get a job but there were limits. But with the Internet, you could actually send the work over that made sense to do over there. And I know it's one of those things where oftentimes people have different viewpoints. But it has dramatically impacted both America and India for the good, because it has allowed so much of Silicon Valley to be able to take work that otherwise it just couldn't have done economically here and move it.
Q: Is there any limit to the work that can be outsourced?
A: I've always felt there's a limit. But let's go back and think about it. The Japanese -- in the late '50s, people would talk about early transistor radios being built by the Japanese. And everybody said, 'Oh, these are just cheap Japanese transistor radios.' Eventually, they built some of the best consumer electronics in the world. They did it because they ended up with a robust consumer economy.
The same happened with cars like the Datsun. Everybody thought these were cheap little cars. Eventually, when the local economy became big, they really started to become world leaders.
Now let's move back to semiconductors. People have yet to be able to really build the equivalent of an Intel somewhere else. The same is happening in software. So what's moved overseas? SAP development, Oracle application development, and those kinds of things have moved. But when you want to build the next Google, you build it here. And many companies that may start over there end up actually moving here.
You have to be close to that market. That's the reason why so many Israeli companies move here. Without a huge home market, it is almost impossible to build a world- leader company. Period. And those consumer markets for software, at least, just don't exist today in India or China or elsewhere.
Q: What is your take on Silicon Valley? What is it about the valley that makes it happen?
A: There's no place like it on Earth. It is a combination of an amazing academic setup -- Stanford and Berkeley and others -- combined with venture capital that has over time grown up here, so it's an institutional knowledge of how to invest, combined with companies that are at the center of their industries, whether it's the Internet or enterprise software or the semiconductor or hardware industries.
A spirit has emerged over time, like the wildcat spirit emerged in Texas when oil was discovered. Do similar ingredients exist elsewhere? Absolutely. Bangalore certainly has that entrepreneurial spirit, along with a fairly good set of technology companies there in the context of India.
But when you combine all of that with the presence of a local home market and venture capital and all those other things, we're still talking of a big difference. Austin certainly has a combination of venture capital and universities. Massachusetts has those, but somehow Silicon Valley here seems to definitely have a surfeit of everything.
Q: Some people would say this world that you describe has not dramatically affected America for the good, although it may have affected India. Is there a global elite, a global technocracy that's beyond nationalism?
A: Whether globalization is good or bad for America is a deeper question. America has no choice -- and no country has a choice -- but to globalize today. America led the fight against communism for the last century. What was that fight all about? Freedom of expression, freedom of property rights. There's a certain ideology of how to run one's life, country and society and everything else. We won that fight and with that win came a certain responsibility to help spread the notion of global capitalism in a global way across the world. That's what we're doing.
The real question is how do we come out winners in the globalization battle? I think the only way we're going to be winners is to continue to be highly competitive as an economy. Always be ahead of the curve on technology. The ability to innovate, the ability to explore new frontiers. That's what makes America.
Q: Cisco CEO John Chambers says the American educational system needs a lot of improvement. Is that where that logic would take you?
A: Absolutely. We can't just retreat into a shell. We have to be able to build and win the battle for globalization. The only way you do that is to help educate your citizens to be global citizens. You improve your K-12 system. You improve your college education, and you continually raise the bar for what you've got to do. And the bar for many of us, you know, was college. Many of our parents never went to college. Frankly, our grandparents, some of them never even finished high school, and so the bar just continues to go up.
Q: Why don't we move on to the root of the organization and what IIT is all about.
A: The IIT system got started in the 1950s as a result of an early decision by the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, who felt that in order to compete there ought to be this elite set of engineering schools that would produce engineering graduates to create the heavy industry that India needed. So the five institutes were started.
One of them in Kharagpur was helped by multiple different countries. Then after that, subsequent institutes, the one in Kanpur, the one I come from, was helped by America. The one in Delhi was helped by Britain. The one in Chennai was helped by Germany and the one in Mumbai was actually helped by the Soviet Union at that time. 'Help' meaning a certain amount of financial help, professors from universities would come.
I still remember many of my professors there were from either Stanford or MIT or Cal Tech or elsewhere. I studied computer programming on the first computer ever brought to India.
It was an IBM computer, an IBM 1620, with punch cards and the whole thing. This was in the late '60s. These universities started to graduate mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and chemical, and then computer science graduates. As I mentioned, the process of getting into school was a very, very competitive exam. My graduating class was about 300. There were five institutes in the beginning, so 300 times 5 is 1,500 people out of 100,000 selected to get in. And now there are seven institutes, so there are about 2,000.
Q: Were these scholarships or were you paying?
A: We're paying, but they are heavily subsidized, no question.
Q: Why only 2,000 students?
A: Many people believe there should be more IITs. Within India there is a movement to add more IITs. Others say there should not be more IITs if you want to keep them to extremely high standards. I think over time there will be more IITs. But how many more it's hard to tell.
Q: Are we lifting up our brains in the United States in comparable ways?
A: My kids who go to school here, Ivy Leagues, and so there is absolutely no question that we produce an amazing set of elite kids in some of our Ivy Leagues today.
I think ultimately the real question is: Are we lifting up the large majority of Americans to those levels required to compete in the global world? We do a pretty good job of educating the broad majority of our citizens compared to most other countries. However, we could and we should do a better job.
Q: Where does the PanIIT organization come down on the immigration reform issue in the United States?
A: The first thing to know about our group is that we do not consider ourselves a political organization. We are first and foremost an alumni organization. To the extent that we have any opinions relative to politics, they are generally noncontroversial, at least from our viewpoint. As an organization, we believe America needs to retain its competitiveness. In order for America to retain its competitiveness, immigration reform clearly needs to focus on improving the capability for people who can help America going forward.
By and large, any immigration reform that helps to increase H-1B visas, any immigration reform that helps to improve the likelihood of IITians and other graduates like IITians entering America and doing well for America, as well as for themselves, is something that IIT supports.
Q: Is the H-1B program overly weighted to take advantage of Indian immigrants?
A: I think that has more to do with the nature of the outsourcing industry than the H-1B program. A very large part of IT outsourcing is from India. The industry didn't even exist 15 years ago, and as it started, much of that work has gone to Indian companies like Infosys and Wipro and Satyam. However, I think as the world starts to add other countries for IT outsourcing whether they be Bulgaria, Russia or China, the H-1B system will automatically start to become appropriate for different countries.
Q: China seems to be the biggest emerging threat to your present IT outsourcing. Northern Africa, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Eastern Europe seem to be emerging areas. How do you stay ahead of the curve on that?
A: Ultimately, any industry has to stay ahead of the curve by constantly being ahead of either the technology or events or sticking to its core competencies or doing better with its customers. In the initial IT world, a lot of outsourcing was: Can I do something relatively simple or cheaper? Today, the tasks require a certain level of quality that is much higher than say 15 years ago. So maintaining cost-competitiveness and ensuring high quality are the keys to sound successful outsourcing.
Q: English fluency helps.
A: That's a natural advantage India has that I think is not going away soon.
Q: IT companies in India are trying to move up to research and development rather than being just cost-cutting outfits.
A: I think you will always find the ability to go up the food chain is a lot easier than going down the food chain. It is much easier to move from doing, let's call it SAP- and Oracle-style coding for an IT shop in any of corporate America's Fortune 500 companies, to move up to do programming for companies like Google or Microsoft where you are actually building parts of an operating system.
But, going the other way, which is to find rural Indians who don't necessarily speak English or even if they do speak English, it's rudimentary English. They may have a B.A. degree, but that B.A. or B.S. degree from a rural college in India is not the same thing as an IIT degree.
Q: Your group has a rising influence. What do you talk about and what are those things that are important to you?
A: Is there something common that all Indians would generally say, 'Yes, this is something we should stand behind?' It certainly would be immigration. We all believe that more immigration is good. We should encourage more globalization, more openness. We must move forward with being able to help be more competitive as a nation. Those are all things that IITians would unite on.
Q: How about domestic issues, health care?
A: Not at this point. Individuals absolutely do, but not as an organization.
Q: How has the environment changed in Silicon Valley in terms of the way folks who immigrate here are treated. Is there racism in the valley?
A: I have not felt personally, or known of, instances of racism. This is an amazingly open part of America. Silicon Valley is another meritocracy, very much so, and that's probably one of the reasons why our IITians love being here, because they've been part of a meritocracy so long in the IIT system. The answer is no. We haven't seen any racism.
Q: Is there a wall for advancement to the executive suite for Indians? Is that final frontier for Indians to be at the top of the heap in the valley, to be the financiers and the venture capitalists?
A: It is definitely happening. I don't think Vinod Khosla is the only one who has done well as a venture capitalist. Promod Haque of Norwest Venture Partners has done extremely well in the venture capital industry. You have people who have done well with major corporations like Vodafone, for example, or McKinsey. So I think that is definitely happening.
It just takes a long time. I think back to my days when I joined IBM. I could speak English reasonably well and so was very well accepted by and large. But I never thought of myself as the guy who was going to rise up the chain and finally end up being president of the IBM Corporation. I didn't look like somebody who could be president of IBM and I never even thought that's what I wanted to do. I just at some point left and said, "Fine, I'll start my own company and that's the way I'll do it." I think there are a lot of Indians who feel that way.
Q: Has America become the place whose lunch everybody wants to eat? Does America get to eat the world's lunch, or is America disadvantaged in the future?
A: I think it's a deeper economic question. If you go back in history again when New York was in the ascendancy and the Midwest and the West were just being discovered and people were saying, "Well, gee, you know all the money goes into New York," the issue of deficits between New York and Iowa never existed.
Why? Because we're all one nation. People thought it was OK. People could move back and forth and move money back and forth. The globalists would argue that we are becoming one large globe. And to the extent that has occurred, or to the extent that American values are going everywhere and American capitalism is going everywhere and people are trading with each other in peace, generally speaking in a way so that we can all improve our standard of living. Nobody has to eat anybody else's lunch. There is plenty for everybody.
Umang Gupta
Age: 57
Title: Chairman and chief executive officer, Keynote Systems Inc.
Education: Bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur in 1971; MBA from Kent State University in 1972.
Work experience: Started his career with IBM in 1973. Joined Oracle Corp. in 1981 and wrote the company's first business plan. Served as vice president and general manager of Oracle's Microcomputer Products Division through 1984. Founded one of the early enterprise client/server computing firms, Gupta Technologies Corp., which he took public in 1993. Chairman and CEO of Keynote Systems since 1997.
Personal: Married to Ruth Gupta. Two surviving children, daughter, 25, and son, 18. The Guptas support charities for the developmentally disabled, including the Raji House in Burlingame, named in memory of their middle child.
Participating in this interview were Business Editor Ken Howe, Deputy Business Editor Alan T. Saracevic, staff writers Tom Abate, Ralph Hermansson and Jessica Guynn, and editorial assistants Colleen Benson and Steve Corder.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

IIT-Kharagpur top technology college in country: survey§ion=subcontinent&col

IIT-Kharagpur top technology college in country: survey

20 June 2007

NEW DELHI — The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, in West Bengal is the top technology and engineering college of the country, edging out IIT-Madras which held the position last year, a survey said yesterday.

According to the survey by Data Quest, a technology magazine in India, and International Data Corporation (IDC), a US-headquartered research firm, the seven IITs have bagged the top seven positions. IIT-Kharagpur climbed two places to the first slot.

The National Institute of Technology (NIT), Warangal, has stormed into the top 10 list for the first time. While IIT-Madras has slipped from the top slot to second position, IIT-Bombay climbed two spots to occupy the third slot. The premier IIT-Delhi had slid to fourth from No.2 last year, while IIT-Roorkee has jumped two places to fifth spot.

IIT-Guwahati is ranked sixth, while IIT-Kanpur is surprisingly the last in the rung of IITs at seventh spot.

While Indian Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad, bagged the ninth spot, Institute of Technology of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) was at 10th spot.

Describing the National Institute of Technology (formerly, Regional Engineering College) Warangal, being in the top 10, the study said that for the "first time, a second-rung school broke into the Top 10 list". It was at number eight, up four notches from last year.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

N R Narayana Murthy of Infosys Lecture at Stern school of Business. N Y Uni

N R Narayana Murthy, chief mentor and chairman of the board, Infosys
Technologies, delivered a pre-commencement lecture at the New York
University ( Stern School of Business) on May 9. It is a scintillating
speech, Murthy speaks about the lessons he learnt from his life and

Dean Cooley, faculty, staff, distinguished guests, and, most
importantly, the graduating class of 2007, it is a great privilege to
speak at your commencement ceremonies.

I thank Dean Cooley and Prof Marti Subrahmanyam for their kind
invitation. I am exhilarated to be part of such a joyous occasion.
Congratulations to you, the class of 2007, on completing an important
milestone in your life journey.

After some thought, I have decided to share with you some of my life
lessons. I learned these lessons in the context of my early career
struggles, a life lived under the influence of sometimes unplanned
events which were the crucibles that tempered my character and
reshaped my future.

I would like first to share some of these key life events with you, in
the hope that these may help you understand my struggles and how
chance events and unplanned encounters with influential persons
shaped my life and career.

Later, I will share the deeper life lessons that I have learned. My
sincere hope is that this sharing will help you see your own trials
and tribulations for the hidden blessings they can be.

The first event occurred when I was a graduate student in Control
Theory at IIT, Kanpur , in India . At breakfast on a bright Sunday
morning in 1968, I had a chance encounter with a famous computer
scientist on sabbatical from a well-known US university.

He was discussing exciting new developments in the field of computer
science with a large group of students and how such developments would
alter our future. He was articulate, passionate and quite convincing.
I was hooked. I went straight from breakfast to the library, read
four or five papers he had suggested, and left the library determined
to study computer

Friends, when I look back today at that pivotal meeting, I marvel at
how one role model can alter for the better the future of a young
student. This experience taught me that valuable advice can sometimes
come from an unexpected source, and chance events can sometimes open
new doors.

The next event that left an indelible mark on me occurred in 1974. The
location: Nis , a border town between former Yugoslavia , now Serbia ,
and Bulgaria . I was hitchhiking from Paris back to Mysore , India ,
my home town.

By the time a kind driver dropped me at Nis railway station at 9 p.m.
on a Saturday night, the restaurant was closed. So was the bank the
next morning, and I could not eat because I had no local money. I
slept on the railway platform until 8.30 pm in the night when the
Sofia Express pulled in.

The only passengers in my compartment were a girl and a boy. I struck
a conversation in French with the young girl. She talked about the
travails of living in an iron curtain country, until we were roughly
interrupted by some policemen who, I later gathered, were summoned by
the youn man who thought we were criticising the communist government
of Bulgaria .

The girl was led away; my backpack and sleeping bag were confiscated.
I was dragged along the platform into a small 8x8 foot room with a
cold stone floor and a hole in one corner by way of toilet facilities.
I was held in that bitterly cold room without food or water for over
72 hours.

I had lost all hope of ever seeing the outside world again, when the
door opened. I was again dragged out unceremoniously, locked up in the
guard's compartment on a departing freight train and told that I
would be released 20 hours later upon reaching Istanbul . The guard's
final words still ring in my ears -- "You are from a friendly country
called India and that is why we are letting you go!"

The journey to Istanbul was lonely, and I was starving. This long,
lonely, cold journey forced me to deeply rethink my convictions about
Communism. Early on a dark Thursday morning, after being hungry for
108 hours, I was purged of any last vestiges of affinity for the Left.

I concluded that entrepreneurship, resulting in large-scale job
creation, was the only viable mechanism for eradicating poverty in

Deep in my heart, I always thank the Bulgarian guards for transforming
me from a confused Leftist into a determined, compassionate capitalist!
Inevitably, this sequence of events led to the eventual founding of
Infosys in 1981.

While these first two events were rather fortuitous, the next two,
both concerning the Infosys journey, were more planned and profoundly
influenced my career trajectory.

On a chilly Saturday morning in winter 1990, five of the seven
founders of Infosys met in our small office in a leafy Bangalore
suburb. The decision at hand was the possible sale of Infosys for the
enticing sum of $1 million. After nine years of toil in the then
business-unfriendly India , we were quite happy at the prospect of
seeing at least some money.

I let my younger colleagues talk about their future plans. Discussions
about the travails of our journey thus far and our future challenges
went on for about four hours. I had not yet spoken a word.

Finally, it was my turn. I spoke about our journey from a small Mumbai
apartment in 1981 that had been beset with many challenges, but also
of how I believed we were at the darkest hour before the dawn. I then
took an audacious step. If they were all bent upon selling the
company, I said, I would buy out all my colleagues, though I did not
have a cent in my pocket.

There was a stunned silence in the room. My colleagues wondered aloud
about my foolhardiness. But I remained silent. However, after an hour
of my arguments, my colleagues changed their minds to my way of
thinking. I urged them that if we wanted to create a great company, we
should be optimistic and confident. They have more than lived up to
their promise of that day.

In the seventeen years since that day, Infosys has grown to revenues
in excess of $3.0 billion, a net income of more than $800 million and
a market capitalisation of more than $28 billion, 28,000 times richer
than the offer of $1 million on that day.

In the process, Infosys has created more than 70,000 well-paying jobs,
2,000-plus dollar-millionaires and 20,000-plus rupee millionaires.

A final story: On a hot summer morning in 1995, a Fortune-10
corporation had sequestered all their Indian software vendors,
including Infosys, in different rooms at the Taj Residency hotel in
Bangalore so that the vendors could not communicate with one another.
This customer's propensity for tough negotiations was well-known. Our
team was very nervous.

First of all, with revenues of only around $5 million, we were minnows
compared to the customer.

Second, this customer contributed fully 25% of our revenues. The loss
of this business would potentially devastate our recently-listed company.

Third, the customer's negotiation style was very aggressive. The
customer team would go from room to room, get the best terms out of
each vendor and then pit one vendor against the other. This went on
for several rounds. Our various arguments why a fair price -- one that
allowed us to invest in good people, R&D, infrastructure, technology
and training -- was actually in their interest failed to cut any ice
with the customer.

By 5 p.m. on the last day, we had to make a decision right on the spot
whether to accept the customer's terms or to walk out.

All eyes were on me as I mulled over the decision. I closed my eyes,
and reflected upon our journey until then. Through many a tough call,
we had always thought about the long-term interests of Infosys. I
communicated clearly to the customer team that we could not accept
their terms, since it could well lead us to letting them down later.
But I promised a smooth, professional transition to a vendor of
customer's choice.

This was a turning point for Infosys.

Subsequently, we created a Risk Mitigation Council which ensured that
we would never again depend too much on any one client, technology,
country, application area or key employee. The crisis was a blessing
in disguise. Today, Infosys has a sound de-risking strategy that has
stabilised its revenues and profits.

I want to share with you, next, the life lessons these events have
taught me.

1. I will begin with the importance of learning from experience. It is
less important, I believe, where you start. It is more important how
and what you learn. If the quality of the learning is high, the
development gradient is steep, and, given time, you can find yourself
in a previously unattainable place. I believe the Infosys story is
living proof of this.

Learning from experience, however, can be complicated. It can be much
more difficult to learn from success than from failure. If we fail,
we think carefully about the precise cause. Success can
indiscriminately reinforce all our prior actions.

2. A second theme concerns the power of chance events. As I think
across a wide variety of settings in my life, I am struck by the
incredible role played by the interplay of chance events with
intentional choices. While the turning points themselves are indeed
often fortuitous, how we respond to them is anything but so. It is
this very quality of how we respond systematically to chance events
that is crucial.

3. Of course, the mindset one works with is also quite critical. As
recent work by the psychologist, Carol Dweck, has shown, it matters
greatly whether one believes in ability as inherent or that it can be
developed. Put simply, the former view, a fixed mindset, creates a
tendency to avoid challenges, to ignore useful negative feedback and
leads such people to plateau early and not achieve their full potential.

The latter view, a growth mindset, leads to a tendency to embrace
challenges, to learn from criticism and such people reach ever higher
levels of achievement (Krakovsky, 2007: page 48).

4. The fourth theme is a cornerstone of the Indian spiritual
tradition: self-knowledge. Indeed, the highest form of knowledge, it
is said, is self-knowledge. I believe this greater awareness and
knowledge of oneself is what ultimately helps develop a more grounded
belief in oneself, courage, determination, and, above all, humility,
all qualities which enable one to wear one's success with dignity and

Based on my life experiences, I can assert that it is this belief in
learning from experience, a growth mindset, the power of chance
events, and self-reflection that have helped me grow to the present.

Back in the 1960s, the odds of my being in front of you today would
have been zero. Yet here I stand before you! With every successive
step, the odds kept changing in my favour, and it is these life
lessons that made all the difference.

My young friends, I would like to end with some words of advice. Do
you believe that your future is pre-ordained, and is already set? Or,
do you believe that your future is yet to be written and that it will
depend upon the sometimes fortuitous events?

Do you believe that these events can provide turning points to which
you will respond with your energy and enthusiasm? Do you believe that
you will learn from these events and that you will reflect on your
setbacks? Do you believe that you will examine your successes with
even greater care?

I hope you believe that the future will be shaped by several turning
points with great learning opportunities. In fact, this is the path I
have walked to much advantage.

A final word: When, one day, you have made your mark on the world,
remember that, in the ultimate analysis, we are all mere temporary
custodians of the wealth we generate, whether it be financial,
intellectual, or emotional. The best use of all your wealth is to
share it with those less fortunate.

I believe that we have all at some time eaten the fruit from trees
that we did not plant. In the fullness of time, when it is our turn to
give, it behooves us in turn to plant gardens that we may never eat
the fruit of, which will largely benefit generations to come. I
believe this is our sacred responsibility, one that I hope you will
shoulder in time.

Thank you for your patience. Go forth and embrace your future with
open arms, and pursue enthusiastically your own life journey of discovery

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why are IIM directors soft on Arjun Singh and hard on Murli Manohar Joshi, asks Indian Express Editorial.

Why are IIM directors soft on Arjun Singh and hard on Murli Manohar Joshi, asks Indian Express Editorial.

Why are IIM directors soft on Arjun Singh and hard on Murli Manohar Joshi, asks Indian Express Editorial.

The author is president, Centre for Policy Research

Lessons in unreason
Pratap Bhanu Mehta.

The day IIMs caved in to HRD's quota blackmail, higher education lost its last pretence of autonomy

Respected Heads of IIMs: I hope you will pardon my presumptuousness in writing to you like this. But this matter is of some importance. Last week we saw a chilling episode unfold in the history of Indian higher education.

The facts are simple. The Supreme Court has ordered a stay on implementing the OBC quota. In response, IIM Ahmedabad had initially proposed what seemed
like a sensible measure: release the general list of admitted candidates, while withholding the list of candidates admitted under the OBC quota for this year. This list would be released depending upon what transpired in the apex court. This proposal was reasonable. It did not put on hold the academic calendar; nor did it prevent the implementation of OBC
reservations, if the court gave the green signal. But then, the IIMs, following a directive from the HRD ministry, first issued on April 5 and reiterated on April 19, decided to withhold the release of any lists.

Whatever the outcome of the court proceedings, the manner in which the IIMs conducted themselves is outrageous. A terse one-line order issued by a joint
secretary of the Government of India was enough to bring India's mightiest institutions to their knees.

Perhaps it is a sign of just how chilling this episode is that we have even failed to register all that it reveals.

The bane of Indian higher education is that most of it is now governed by political rather than pedagogical considerations. Many excellent universities are now empty shells because they became appendages of the
government: everything, from the academic calendar to appointments, is increasingly determined by ministries and politicians. Even regulatory institutions like the UGC, whose job was to shield universities from egregious government interference, have often become conduits for political design. The lines that separated the professoriate and the civil service are being seriously eroded. Government secretaries now regularly attend meeting of independent regulatory bodies and most states have no compunction putting civil servants in charge of our affairs. But we took solace in the fact that
a few islands of excellence survive, their eminence protecting them from government interference. Alas, this illusion was finally shattered last week.

What was disturbing is that your eminent institutions were becoming a party to the government's attempts to almost blackmail the court. After all, the compromise IIM-A had suggested would have honoured the integrity of all positions; instead you chose to play into government's hands by abetting a scenario of potential chaos that would have ensued if the entire list was
withheld. Of course all institutions, even autonomous ones, have to negotiate with government. But to see the premier institutions put aside all logic, morality and reasonableness to comply with a unnecessary and
illegitimate government order, to see them become party to the government's disrespect for institutional proprieties, was shocking indeed. The public would have sided with you; neither pro- ,nor anti-reservationists would have had reason to disagree with the solution you proposed. Yet you chose to cave in. Is it because you don't trust your own judgment? Is it because you are
no longer capable of providing leadership? Is it because institutional propriety has ceased to matter?

There was also the odour of double standard in what you did. When Murli Manohar Joshi had, in the name of justice, sought to regulate fees, cries of autonomy immediately went up. When Arjun Singh passes an order that is at least as serious, if not more so, there is quiet acceptance. For those of us who have despaired of our successive ministers of education, this double
standard is glaring. Do we now judge institutional proprieties by the yardstick of our ideological allegiances? Whatever may have been your reasons, the effect of your decision will have been to erode the credibility of institutions. The mark of an institution's greatness, after all, is its ability to rise above the taint of partisanship.

I admit readily that running institutions is not easy. The multiple pressures, the diverse demands put on you do not lend themselves to simple solutions. And what can academics do when the political class is hell-bent
on destroying education? What can we do in the face of a seeming political consensus? What can we do when the most academically accomplished prime minister a nation could wish for lets his ministers run riot? But the IIMs
are important just for this reason. India looks to its best institutions not just to build a reputation by selecting a few out of hundreds of thousands of students. It looks to them to provide leadership to society, to extend the boundaries of the possible, and to enlarge our ambitions. But we cannot imagine institutions of higher education being able to do this, if they cannot stand up to governments on behalf of what is right and legal. The IIM
Ahmedabad website proudly makes two claims. First, that the empowerment of faculty has been the propelling force behind the institution. But there is very little evidence of faculty governance in decisions like this. Second, that the institution combines the best of eastern and western values. I wondered what this referred to. After all it was one of the virtues of the Indian tradition that even kshatriyas used to keep their arms outside before entering the gurukula.

Let me be clear. The issue is not reservations. The cause for concern goes even deeper. The IIMs are, in numerical terms, small institutions. But their power to define aspirations is large. In succumbing to the government, in
the manner you did, you disempowered all those who are fighting for values you hold dear: institutional propriety, autonomy, and a proper matching of ends and means. One thing the history of institutions teaches us is that
autonomy has to be earned, it does not inhere in mere statutes. Your faculty, your boards can leverage the power of their eminence to reform higher education, if they so desire. Those of us interested in, and
associated with, India's higher education already feel considerably diminished by the track record of so many institutions. The day IIMs succumbed was truly a sad day, because we felt even smaller.

The writer is president, Centre for Policy Research

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

IIMs likely to lose autonomy
IIMs likely to lose autonomy
NEW DELHI: Indian Institutes of Management may no longer function as autonomous societies for the government is seriously considering Institutes of Management Bill so that the six premier B-schools are made answerable to Parliament.
Coming within days of IIMs first refusing to toe the government advice of keeping admission list on hold till the OBC reservation issue was settled in the Supreme Court, the move will definitely ruffle IIMs and India Inc. Institutes of Management Bill would be modelled on the lines of the Institutes of Technology Act, 1961, under which the IITs function.
A top government source said consultation on the proposed bill was on with the law ministry. He also sought to allay the apprehension that the proposed law could result in the erosion of the autonomy of IIMs.
‘‘IITs have made a mark for themselves without undermining their autonomy. Government feels functioning of IIMs and IITs need to be brought on par,’’ the source said. HRD ministry officials, however, refused to comment on the development.
If the proposed bill is modelled on the Institutes of Technology Act, there would be definite changes in the administrative and financial powers of IIMs. The B-schools would have a board of governors and a senate as administrative units.
But it is the financial autonomy of IIMs, which gives it the current teeth, which would undergo major change. IIMs, especially Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Kolkata, are not dependent on government funds but once they are brought under an act of Parliament, every IIM would have to maintain a fund in which money provided by the Central government, all fees and other charges received by the institute, money received by way of grants, gifts, donations, benefactions, bequests or transfers and money received by the institute in any other manner or from any other source would be kept.
Even investments would have to be made with the approval of the Central government. Accounts of IIMs would be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

IIM alumni body cites Nehru, files PIL in SC
IIM alumni body cites Nehru, files PIL in SC
NEW DELHI: An alumni association of IIM graduates has filed a PIL in the Supreme Court questioning the validity of the 56-year-old caste-based reservation policy saying its continuance has put paid to Jawaharlal Nehru's dream of a "young and vibrant nation free from the vices of caste and communal divide".
The PIL by 'Pan-IIM Alumni Association' quoted a letter written by the country's first PM to the chief ministers, which said: "I dislike any kind of reservation, more particularly in services. I react strongly against anything, which leads to inefficiency and second rate standards. I want my country to be a first class country in everything. The moment we encourage the second rate, we are lost."
The right to primary education remains unenforced even after 60 years of independence, but the ruling class has not blinked in sacrificing the high ideals of Nehru at the altar of vote-bank politics, the PIL said and sought an honest evaluation of the benefits of caste-based reservations.
Clarifying that the association is not against affirmative action of the state, the petitioner said imposition of mandatory reservation in higher education smacked of arbitrariness being without basis.

Opening New IITs

Pankaj Jalote and B N Jain
[23 Apr, 2007 l 0040 hrs IST]

The government recently said that it would open more Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). While any move in this direction is welcome, the existing model of wholly state-funded IITs is not amenable to increasing the numbers and enhancing quality.

After the first five IITs which came up three to four decades back, the government has set up only one, in Guwahati. But since the 60s, India's population has doubled and numbers of the educated seeking admission have probably gone up tenfold. Unable to cope, the government started renaming existing institutions as IITs. The key difficulty today in starting an IIT is attracting and retaining good faculty.

To attract quality faculty, we need good students, a vibrant research environment and attractive compensation. Good students are available in plenty in India, at least at the undergraduate level. The challenges lie in the other two areas, and they cannot be met by promoting new IITs exclusively in the government sector due to resource and management constraints in the present model.

In an era of public-private partnerships (PPP), it is worth extending the PPP approach to starting new IITs. Private sector dynamism and long-term social commitment of the government can come together to create quality institutes. A modified BOT (build-operate-transfer) model can be applied here.

The government can specify norms for an IIT and its support for the project. These norms can include autonomy, selection process for students and faculty, reservations, governance structures, and conditions for financial support, such as what it will provide per student and per faculty. It can also specify norms for giving the landand its share of the initial capital for a new IIT.

With these guidelines in place, the government can invite respected individuals and business houses for a partnership to start a new IIT. The project can be executed by the partner, who, apart from bringing his share of the initial capital, can go on to provide ongoing support to the new IIT. This would be in addition to the government lending support as per its norms.

The official salary scale of the IIT faculty can remain the government-approved scale, this coming from government grant. However, the private partner can provide additional compensation to the faculty, pegging this to market levels.

The private player can also provide funds to invite faculty from abroad, something that is difficult to do from government funds. In general, funds provided by the private partner can be used for activities that cannot be undertaken with government money.

In this modified BOT model, the private partner is actually paying money, and not making any, in the B and O phases. Why would a private player participate? Many rich individuals and organisations in India would like to direct their wealth to societal uses, such as academic institutions. Given the IIT brand, it will be easier to get them to start a new IIT than, say, a new college or university.

Since the new institution is an IIT, it would be eligible for research grants and partnership programmes. A fully private university in India will find it almost impossible to support research, as can be seen in most existing private institutes, including well-funded ones. With research funding available from regular funding sources as well as multilateral agencies, an exciting environment can be created, particularly with leadership support from the private sector.

The board of governors can remain the top body of an IIT built through PPP. The government can stipulate that the board will consist of eminent people, specify that a few seats will be nominees of the government, and lay down that the director will be selected by a professional search committee appointed by the board. The initial agreement can last for 20-30 years, after which the IIT may revert to the government, or the arrangement may be extended.

A likely area of contention is the fee structure. Although it can be stated that the IIT can make no profit and extra revenues generated will go towards expanding the institute, there is likely to be a difference in opinion on the level of fees and how it should be determined. One possibility is to have norms where per student support is a function of fees as the fee increases government support decreases.

As part of the agreement, the govern-ment can also state that the new IIT should build mechanisms to create new faculty for itself as well as for other institutions. This is not as hard as it may sound. With incentives, it is possible to attract young graduates to join the PhD programme where they may do a joint PhD with some world-class university (with which this new IIT can get into an MoU, and for which funds will be provided by the private partner) and also do part-time teaching in this new IIT.

The PPP approach, unlike the government one, has reasonable scalability. There is no reason why with different partners, a new IIT cannot be created every couple of years at least for the next decade or so. The new models that are likely to come up in new IITs will also help existing IITs to change and upgrade their management and compensation approaches. With D Sanghi, S Biswas, K Ramamritham and D B Phatak. The writers are IIT professors.

Nanotechnology pesticide filter debuts in India
Nanotechnology friendly E-mail this article

Posted: April 20, 2007
Nanotechnology pesticide filter debuts in India
(Nanowerk News) A domestic water filter that uses metal nanoparticles to
remove dissolved pesticide residues is about to enter the Indian market. Its
developers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chennai (formerly
Madras) believe it is the first product of its kind in the world to be
Mumbai-based Eureka Forbes Limited, a company that sells water purification
systems, is collaborating with IIT and has tested the device in the field
for over six months. Jayachandra Reddy, a technical consultant to the
company, expects the first 1000 units to be sold door-to-door from late May.

The pesticide-zapping filter (Image: Thalappil Pradeep)
'Our pesticide filter is an offshoot of basic research on the chemistry of
nanoparticles,' Thalappil Pradeep who led the team at IIT Chennai told
Chemistry World. He and his student Sreekumaran Nair discovered in 2003 that
halocarbons such as carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) completely break down into
metal halides and amorphous carbon upon reaction with gold and silver
nanoparticles ("Halocarbon mineralization and catalytic destruction by metal
nanoparticles"; pdf download 136 KB).
Pradeep said this prompted them to extend their study to include
organochlorine and organophosphorous pesticides, whose presence in water is
posing a health risk in rural India. In research funded by the Department of
Science and Technology in New Delhi, his team found ("Detection and
extraction of endosulfan by metal nanoparticles" and "Extraction of
Chlorpyrifos and Malathion from Water by Metal Nanoparticles" (in: J.
Nanosci. Nanotechnol. 7, 1871–1877 (2007) – not yet published)) that gold
and silver nanoparticles loaded on alumina were indeed able to completely
remove endosulfan, malathion and chlorpyrifos - three pesticides often found
at elevated levels in Indian water supplies.
Use and recycle
The mechanism of removal is 'adsorption followed by catalytic destruction',
Pradeep explained. 'The chemistry occurs in a wide concentration range of
environmental significance.' He added that tests proved silver particles
from the filter are not released into the water. The IIT study found that
gold particles perform better in the case of endosulfan. However, for cost
reasons, the commercialised filters use only silver particles, which range
in size from 60 to 80 nanometres at a concentration (on their alumina
support) of 33 parts per million.
'Based on consumption patterns of a typical Indian household, the filter is
designed to have enough nanomaterials to provide 6000 litres of
pesticide-free water for one year,' Pradeep said. 'After that, the company
will recycle the filters to recover the silver.'
Use of nanoparticles for environmental remediation is an emerging area of
research worldwide. Nanoscale iron powders had been shown to degrade other
pesticides, including DDT and lindane ("Nanoporous zero-valent iron"), 'and
there are reports about the use of nanomaterials for removing arsenic, heavy
metals and fluorides,' said Pradeep. 'But ours is the first product to hit
the market,' he said.
World first
Murali Sastry, chief scientist of TATA Chemicals Innovation Centre in Pune -
India's first nanotechnology research centre in the private sector - agrees.
'What Pradeep has done is definitely novel,' Sastry told Chemistry World. 'I
am not aware of any similar product in the market.'
Eureka already markets a water purifier that combines a sedimentation
chamber with activated carbon filters and UV irradiation, and costs around
Rs8500 (approx. $200). Reddy estimated that adding the x-centimetre-long
nanosilver cartridge (see image) to remove pesticides will increase the
price by 15 per cent, but silver recycling (in an environmentally-friendly
manner, stressed Pradeep) should help to reduce that cost.
Vijayamohanan Pillai, a nanomaterials expert at the National Chemical
Laboratory in Pune, pointed out that it is very rare for an Indian company
to exploit a home-grown nanotechnology. 'Most big companies in India look
abroad for collaboration,' he said. One problem is that scaling up
nanoparticle production is difficult. But Pradeep said his team had taken
three years to attack this problem, and 'Eureka Forbes can now make four
tonnes of silver nanoparticles a month.'
Source: Chemistry World (Killugudi Jayaraman)

How Skype has captured India

On 20/4/07 8:29 PM, "Kumar" wrote:

The other day, I was in an electrical shop, looking for an electrical wall fitting, when a well-dressed lady, in her late 40s or early 50s, walked in. She asked for something, and just then her mobile phone rang. It's not often that you see someone - anyone - so well dressed
in an electrical shop such as the one I was shopping in; this place is usually frequented by the small-time contractor types, and their workers. So, as she answered the phone, I, I'm sorry to say, positioned myself to eavesdrop better. And this is what I heard:

"Oh yes, the computer is on. No, beta, I'm not at home right now. OK, I'm coming home now, and I'll call you on Skype as soon as I get home."

In 15 seconds, she paid for what she had bought, hailed an autorickshaw, and vanished from sight.

That is when it hit me: how Skype has entered the life of so many Indians.

So here we are again, using a product because it's free, useful (actually, vital, to some), and untouched by politicians. But not really sure of who the providers are, and privacy issues. So I did some research on these issues.

First, the who. Skype may have started as, but is no longer, a fly-by-night operation. The Skype Group was acquired by eBay in October 2005, and is headquartered in Luxembourg, with offices in London, Tallinn and Prague. So we have a big name behind it now.

Next, the privacy concern. This is hard to address. Being a closed, proprietary peer-to-peer protocol, we really cannot be sure that it's not been hacked into. It's free, so any attackers aren't doing it for publicity. That makes it all the more scary, because that leaves only two candidates in the field: criminals and governments (come to think of it, the two have a lot in common). Reportedly, Skype uses openly available, strong encryption algorithms. But you have to take their word for it. Just don't even think of terms like "backdoor".

What about worms? Viruses? Trojans? Malware? Nothing ever attacked the good old telephone system except rats, nature, and corrupt PSU employees. But Skype, like all VOIP systems, is primarily software, and primarily residing on a PC, so it is just as vulnerable as any
software on the PC, or the PC itself. And now, specific attacks are being directed on Skype software.

In March 2007, F-Secure detected a new Skype Worm as IM-Worm: W32/Pykse.A. The security company said that the Pykse. A worm spreads via Skype instant messages, posing as a link to a photograph of a scantily clad young model called Sandra. Once a user clicks on the link, and views the image, the user's PC is infected with a downloader Trojan which then installs the worm. Once the Pykse.A worm is up and running, it then attemps to connect to a number of remote Web sites.

The fix: Nothing new. Protect your PC, and Skype will be safe. Just keep your antivirus updated, and be careful of which sites you visit.

m I on the right side of the law? In India, it is legal to use VoIP, but it is illegal to have VoIP gateways inside India. This effectively means that people who have PCs can use them to make a VoIP call to any number anywhere in the world, but if the remote side is a normal phone, the gateway that converts the VoIP call to a POTS call should
not be inside India. So, you're OK making free Skype calls, or even making the paid Skypeout calls (you use your PC to make a call to a normal telephone at the other end). Even if the service provider wrongly locates his gateway inside India, it's not your fault.

Oh, we all know it's free, but what about Quality of Service? It's wrong to look a gift horse in the mouth, but drop-outs and latencies will take the joy away from any call you'll make. To some extent, these weaknesses are shared by all VOIP systems, and are not specific to Skype. So, depending on the state of network congestion, your
mileage may vary. The good news is, more dark fibre is getting lit up every day, so the network is, as they say, "getting better and better".

As with all good happenings in India, when success ensues, can the biggest spoilsport of all - the government - be far behind? Oh, yes, the GOI is very much getting into the act, but fortunately for that
good lady in the shop and millions of others like her, the crackdown on internet telephony services will affect only the outsourcers and other IT businesses. Homes are, so far, exempt.

Net2Phone was an early VoIP company. But somehow Skype has turned out to be the dominant force in VoIP. Skype came later, when broadband had permeated the globe better and the public had become used to the
concept. Globalization also meant a lot more people had to make overseas calls.

Skype had better timing. And marketing. And has captured India.


Dr. Jamshed Irani of Tata Steel is new IIML Chairman.

Dr. Jamshed Irani of Tata Steel is new IIML Chairman.

Dr. Jamshed J. Irani Appointed Chairman, BoG, IIM Lucknow

Ministry of HRD, Government of India, appointed Dr. Jamshed J. Irani Director, TATA Sons Limited, as Chairman, IIM Society and Board of Governors of IIM, Lucknow for a period of 5 years.

With a doctorate in metallurgy from the University of Sheffield, England, Dr. Irani began his career in 1963 as Senior Scientific Officer at the BISRA, Sheffield. In 1968, he joined The Tata Iron & Steel Company Ltd. (TISCO).
He was appointed General Superintendent in 1978, General Manager in 1979 and Managing Director in 1992. After holding the CEO's office for almost a
decade, he retired as the Managing Director of Tata Steel in July 2001. He continues as a Director on the Board of Tata Steel.

The whole IIM Lucknow community is looking forward to learning from the able and visionary leadership of Dr. Jamshed J. Irani," says *Dr. Devi Singh, Director IIM Lucknow.

In Tata Steel, Dr. Irani transformed the company into the sophisticated steel company it is today, both in physical form and attitude. He is looked upon as the 'change agent', which has made the steel behemoth a force to be
reckoned with in the steel manufacturing world. Dr. Irani's personal commitment to quality served as a model for the workforce of Tata Steel to follow, bringing about continuous improvement in all aspects of their work.
Tata Steel is now recognized as one of the lowest cost producers of steel in the world.

He has received a number of awards recognizing his contributions to the company and industry. Prominent among them are the Ernst & Young's *'Lifetime
Achievement Award, 2001'* for entrepreneurial success and the *'Twelfth Willy Korf Steel Vision Award'* from World Steel Dynamics and American Metal Market. Dr. Irani has also been awarded the *Qimpro Platinum Standard* in November 2000, and has received the *Indian Merchants' Chamber's Juran Quality Medal* for the year 2001, for his role as a statesman for quality.

At its Annual General Body Meeting held on 10th July 1996, the *Royal Academy of Engineering, London* elected Dr. Irani as a Foreign Member and he is amongst the five Indians who have been bestowed with this honour. On 14th October 1997 in Delhi, *Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II* conferred on Dr.Irani an *Honorary Knighthood (KBE)*, for his contributions to Indo-British
Trade and Co-operation.

IIT's could do better with the Cream of the Nation

You have touched on a very sore point. Your JEE rank determines your branch of engineering even before you find out what engineering is all about. There were chaps who could never do isometrics or visualise 3'd images.

The electronics class was virtually reserved for the top rankers who all chose the branch as it had good job prospects then. Out of a class of about 40 not even ten stuck to electronics. Most went to management and other fields. This to me is a correctable situation.

In Australia admission is based on the University admission Index and students choose what they want to study in any of the state universities

Some one like me dreamed of becoming an electronics engineer and JEE rank denied me the opportunity and forced civil engg down my throat. I had no choice as my dad insisted I had to do Civil too. I believe I wasted so many years at IIT and had to do a masters in Sydney to switch to a field of my choice - Noise control Engineering.

I strongly believe that the branch should be allottted after students complete the second year and after an aptitude test and interview by faculty professors. If faculty can choose their students I am sure IITs will have
much better engineers tha they have been producing in the last 15 years.

It is also sad to see so many IITians joining the recruitment game that needs no B Tech Degree.

All the students who want to do MBA might as well be allowed to study business at IITs as opposed to doing Civil or metallurgy and then switching to finance.

My discussions with recent graduates from IITs suggests the current crop work pretty hard in the first two years and score enough marks ( in the 90's) and then take it easy in third and fourth years where real engineering
is taught and even if they average 70% they are quite happy with the overall aggregate. Now when I say Take it easy it means their focus is in teaching themselves computer languages and programming I am told.

In one way it is a total waste of time for faculty members in Aero, Civil. Metallurgy Chemical etc knowing pretty well that majority of their b tech students will be heading for the IT industry or Finance. And we wonder why
there are no B tech students doing research at IITs

Yes IITs were structured to meet the demands of the sixties and seventies and in the year 2007 there is an urgent need to overhaul the system and produce graduates to meet market demand. What is wrong in limiting Civil, metallurgy, chem, aero etc to just twenty seats and allow 300 students to do computer sciene or computer engg etc ? Every one will be better off in the

On 22/4/07 12:37 PM, "gopala GG ganesh" wrote:

> Rambo:
> I believe the JEE as currently set up is unfair to poor students, rural
> students and those who are non-English medium. Thanks to technology, this can
> be solved quite effectively and easily. The IITs should jointly set up an
> online coaching scheme which is widely accessible. Students of means will
> access from home, while the others would go to dedicated, subsidized nternet
> cafes franchised to retired teachers that limit access only to coaching
> activities. Among other things, the coaching would incorporate point and click
> explanations of topics, problems ertc, bulletin boards to facilitate student
> to student communications, in all Indian languages In addition, the site
> would provide any number of practice tests etc. Let those students who are
> dedicated enough to make use of the widely available resource do well in the
> JEE. Also, I am not convinced that MPC proficiency equals Engg aptitude. If
> you ask me, the key skill of an engineer is the ability to design things. Is
> this
> tested in the JEE? Had I been asked many moons ago to figure out objects from
> their plan and elevation views, I would have mercifully flunked out of JEE and
> IIT. My good number skills do not make me a good engineer, in spite of doing
> quite well in my rather large Mech Engg branch. After IIT, I could not wait to
> get the hell out of engineering. I probably would have made a good CPA and/or
> income tax lawyer. Helping hide black money legally and playing stricly by all
> existing rules would have been quite lucrative, given the ocean that
> unaccounted money is in India. Too late!
> - gg

JEE Coaching Schools - Outside the Box Thinking

JEE Coaching Schools - Outside the Box Thinking

Over the last few years, the IIT JEE Coaching schools especially the ones in Kota and Hyderabad have been blamed again and again for the quality of students who succeed in passing the JEE exams with flying colours. They seem to cop the blame for poorer students who cannot afford these coaching schools as being disadvantaged as a result. These coaching schools are portrayed as greedy opportunists. Yet no one blames the Private schools in India that charge an arm and a leg right from Kindy for not delivering quality education  that is good enough to get into IITs

It is also common knowledge that students start preparations for JEE sometimes as early as eighth standard. Imagine these poor children who have to endure this torture for as long as five years  of regular schooling as well as JEE Coaching schools. No wonder these kids are burnt out even before they step into IITs and get blamed for not being creative etc etc.

Does it not make sense to give some of these successful JEE Coaching schools due recognition as Special schools that can award the Plus two school certificate ?.
By doing this we can spare the children the torture of physically attending a regular school as a formality only to get attendance to sit for the public exams ?
I am sure most will agree that each and every student studying at JEE Coaching schools will pass the school exams with flying colours.  If they are trained to successfully compete in the entrance exams it goes without saying that they are too good for the Board  exams. Please do not argue that these schoools do not teach all the subjects. Given the opportunity I am sure they will teach the languages and other humanities subjects as found necessary.

I believe it is time to stop knocking JEE Coaching schools and recognise their valuable contribution to the Indian society at large. From wat I have read and understood JEE Coaching schools are way ahead of all private and public schools. Tell me I am wrong

Assuming HRD Ministry will never accept anything like this that makes sense, we have to take the opposite view and ensure JEE is fair to all students who study the school syllabus by rehashing the JEE altogether wiping out all Coaching schools. Now this will test the creative capabilities of  Faculty at IITs who set the JEE question papers for sure.

Something has to change and if we cannot beat them Coaching schools we might as well join them and serve the communities better.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

JEE Coaching Schools - Outside the Box Thinking

JEE Coaching Schools - Outside the Box Thinking

Over the last few years, the IIT JEE Coaching schools especially the ones in Kota and Hyderabad have been blamed again and again for the quality of students who succeed in passing the JEE exams with flying colours. They seem to cop the blame for poorer students who cannot afford these coaching schools as being disadvantaged as a result. These coaching schools are portrayed as greedy opportunists. Yet no one blames the Private schools in India that charge an arm and a leg right from Kindy for not delivering quality education that is good enough to get into IITs

It is also common knowledge that students start preparations for JEE sometimes as early as eighth standard. Imagine these poor children who have to endure this torture for as long as five years of regular schooling as well as JEE Coaching schools. No wonder these kids are burnt out even before they step into IITs and get blamed for not being creative etc etc.

Does it not make sense to give some of these successful JEE Coaching schools due recognition as Special schools that can award the Plus two school certificate ?.
By doing this we can spare the children the torture of physically attending a regular school as a formality only to get attendance to sit for the public exams ?
I am sure most will agree that each and every student studying at JEE Coaching schools will pass the school exams with flying colours. If they are trained to successfully compete in the entrance exams it goes without saying that they are too good for the Board exams. Please do not argue that these schoools do not teach all the subjects. Given the opportunity I am sure they will teach the languages and other humanities subjects as found necessary.

I believe it is time to stop knocking JEE Coaching schools and recognise their valuable contribution to the Indian society at large. From wat I have read and understood JEE Coaching schools are way ahead of all private and public schools. Tell me I am wrong

Assuming HRD Ministry will never accept anything like this that makes sense, we have to take the opposite view and ensure JEE is fair to all students who study the school syllabus by rehashing the JEE altogether wiping out all Coaching schools. Now this will test the creative capabilities of Faculty at IITs who set the JEE question papers for sure.

Something has to change and if we cannot beat them Coaching schools we might as well join them and serve the communities better.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Rahul says he is ready to talk to anyone on quota issue

Rahul says he is ready to talk to anyone on quota issue
Wednesday, April 04, 2007 15:04 IST

KANPUR: In the wake of IIT students planning to hold protests on the OBC quota issue during his Uttar Pradesh roadshow, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said he was ready to talk to anyone, especially the youth on the matter.

"I am ready to talk to anyone, especially the youth. And I would like them to come forward and air their views," Gandhi told reporters here when asked about the protests planned by IIT students.

"My doors are always open for the IIT students and they could come at any time to discuss their problem and some solution would be brought out for their problem," the Amethi MP said.

The Congress leader had said in April last year, when the anti-quota protests were raging across the country, "It is a very complex issue. Both sides have valid points."

Gandhi has been especially targeting the youth during his roadshow in UP in the run-up to the Assembly elections, asking them to come forth with new ideas for development of the state.

He said the main agenda of Congress party was to attract the youth and the chief task of his road show was to create enthusiasm among them for a change of government. "We are getting success in our aim because the youth have easy access
to me," he said.

Earlier, a spokesman of Youth for Equality, which is spearheading the anti-reservation protests, had said IIT students would oppose Rahul Gandhi when his helicopter would land at IIT helipad as the Congress favoured reservation but their plan could not materialise due to strict security.

Brand Equiity: IIT’s branding campaign

Just when IITians from India thought they were the only ones creating a Brand equity.
Here is news from the other IIT in USA.
Brand Equiity: IIT’s branding campaign
by Abhishek Gundugurti

Yes, there have been a ton of T-shirts given out for free. Yes, banners on State Street along the MTCC have words misspelled with ‘iit’ in the middle of them. And while you may think you know what‘s going on, chances are that you don’t. Don’t worry, all of your questions will now be answered.

TechNews will give you the ‘official’ details of IIT’s latest marketing and branding campaign. These are just some of the details you will find in the brochure called ‘Brand Equiity – Building a valued relationship that lasts’. This brochure and IIT’s branding campaign is the brainchild of the Communication and Marketing (C&M) department.

Scott Dunnell (Director of Marketing), Kristine Pasto (Associate Director of Marketing) , Nancy Schoon (Art Director in charge of the visual aspects of the campaign) and Hyme Jamie BanuelosDeLaMore (a student intern who helped gather student input and feedback during the campaign’s research phase) served as team leaders/members. Rose Milkowski, IIT’s Chief Communications Officer, was kind enough to offer TechNews an interview in regards to the idea behind the campaign and the planning that went into it.

The process began a little before October 2006, and first two months included focus groups and in-depth interviews involving over 200 alumni, current students, faculty, parents, prospective students, staff and trustees. In December 2006, there was strategic planning involving the entire IIT community. In the first two months of this year, test marketing of the new branding campaign was conducted during the graduate open house sessions. In February, the C&M department worked on completing the material that would be used for both internal and external campaign branding. The official kickoff date was on March 29 and on April 2, it was launched in Chicago and revealed to the entire IIT student body through a wide range of giveaways and freebees.

The branding campaign is intended to reflect the university’s four foundation messages: An Academic experience grounded in engineering, science and technology (Curiosiity), Exceptional students with an intense work ethic (Tenaciity), Innovation and entrepreneurialism (Ingenuiity) and Chicago – a total urban experience (Ciity Life). IIT President Lewis Collens issued the charge to develop a full-fledged branding campaign for IIT based on these principles and the C&M department, which engaged more than 250 members of the university community, developed the program in eight months. Programs of this kind normally take 15 months to develop and implement.

In the official letter, which is given along with the branding campaign, Milkowski states that “This is a strong step towards enhancing the visibility of our university and building a more solid understanding of the great attributes of Illinois Institute of Technology”. It remains to been seen how well the IIT community and others from across the city (and eventually, the country) accepts this new branding campaign.

Sources: Some details mentioned in this article are from the brochure of the marketing campaign.

Reservation row: IIT, IIM admissions put on hold

Reservation row: IIT, IIM admissions put on hold
IIM aspirants who were to find out on Thursday whether they made it to the premier business school or not will now have to wait.

The Union HRD Ministry sent out a letter to all centrally-aided institutes, including the IIMs and IITs, asking them to withhold declaration of entrance examination results till the Supreme Court decided whether or not to lift the stay on implementation of OBC quotas in this academic session.

The letter from the HRD Ministry states:

"You are advised not to issue any offers of admissions in institutes under your control for the ensuing academic session until you receive further communication in this regard from the central government."

Students affected

The students affected most are the IIM aspirants, as the results of entrance exams for most centrally-aided institutes, including IIT-JEE, will now be out much later.

Still, students expressed surprise at this sudden turn of events.

The decision to implement quotas in a staggered manner over three years was taken at the UPA-Left Coordination Committee meeting on Friday despite the Supreme Court stay.

Institutes like the IIT are hopeful that this quota mess will sort itself out before the new academic session begins.

Reactions to HRD order

"We anyway don't declare results till May 30. The question of holding results does not apply. The process of checking papers will carry on as usual.

"If the Supreme Court decision does not come by May 30, then we will consider holding back the results," said Prof H S Pandalia, Chairman Joint Entrance Exam, IIT.

The government will file a review petition in the Supreme Court seeking an early hearing of its plea to vacate the stay ordered on the OBC quotas.

It is hoping that it will be able to carry out admissions for general and OBC categories simultaneously.

Less taxing IIT-JEE pattern

Meera Srinivasan

Drop in number of students appearing for the examination

WHAT'S YOUR ANSWER? Students discuss the paper after their afternoon session of the JEE at MGR Janaki Arts and Science College in Chennai on Sunday. — PHOTO: K.V.SRINIVASAN

CHENNAI: About 6,000 students took the Indian Institute of Technology-Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE) in 12 centres across the city on Sunday. A total of 2.5 lakh students appeared for the examination all over the country.

This year's examination pattern was different from last year's, which had papers in mathematics, physics and chemistry for two hours each. Sunday's examination was conducted over two sessions of three hours each, with a two-hour break in between.

Students attempted two objective-type question papers, both with sections in mathematics, physics and chemistry. The three subjects were allotted 81 marks each.

Students were tested through four types of questions — multiple choice, assertion and reasoning, reading comprehension and match the following.

IIT-JEE (south zone) chairman Shreepad Karmalkar said the testing pattern was changed as they found last year's pattern very taxing.

This year, nearly 9,500 students from Tamil Nadu appeared for the examination in 23 centres.

A total of 40,000 students wrote the examination in 97 centres in the south zone that covers Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh.

Mr.Karmalkar pointed to a six per cent drop in the number of students taking the examination in the south zone.

This year's examination was largely perceived as reasonably easy.

S. Balasubramanian, director, T.I.M.E., an institute that trains students for various competitive examinations, said the examination was easier compared to last year's. An IIT-Madras alumnus himself, Mr. Balasubramanian said both papers (morning and afternoon) were similar in structure and difficulty level.

Students, too, seem to have found the paper easy.

"It was easier than expected. I have been studying hard for the JEE ... my dream is to make it to an IIT," said K. J. Arun, a student of MCC Higher Secondary School.

S. Aravind of P.S. Senior Secondary School said, "Some of the questions seemed challenging, as the pattern was new. However, I am quite satisfied with my performance."

This year's JEE also assumes significance in the context of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development directing the Indian Institutes of Management, (IIMs), Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and other centrally-funded institutions of higher learning to put admissions on hold.

The instruction followed the Supreme Court's stay on 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

Last year, about three lakh students in the country competed for the 5,500 seats offered across seven IITs.

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Lakhs appear in IIT exam, hail new format

Lakhs appear in IIT exam, hail new format

New Delhi, April 8: Over 2.5 lakh students across the country on Sunday appeared in the joint entrance examination (JEE) for admission to the prestigious IITs with the tests passing off smoothly.

Adequate arrangements were made in the Delhi zone, which consists of the national capital region, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, for conducting the test, IIT-Delhi Director Surendra Prasad told.

"There are 48,000 candidates in the Delhi zone, including 33,000 in the NCR. In this zone, we set up 104 centres, including 74 in the capital," he said.

Many students said they were satisfied with their performance.

"The questions were slightly easy. The students were very happy over their performance," said Sharad Awasti of career launcher, an institute that coaches students for the test.

Awasti said most students could answer the test in time.

The test comprised two papers of 200 marks each. To ease the exam blues for students, the pattern of the IIT-JEE was changed this year with only two papers in place of three. Each paper consisted of questions in physics, chemistry and mathematics.

Earlier, students appeared for three papers, one each dealing with physics, chemistry and mathematics. The papers earlier were of two hour`s duration.

The questions are of objective type and there is negative marking for incorrect answers, Prasad said.

There are over 4,000 seats in the IITs, which were supposed to increase seats to implement a 27 per cent quota for OBCs, which has been put on hold by the Supreme Court`s stay.

New format hailed

A new but easy format and more time gave the 250,000 students sitting for the IIT entrance exam on Sunday a pleasant surprise.

"The paper was fun," remarked Bhargavi, a student who appeared at Chennai for the Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE).

"The best and most welcome change in the exam was that it`s a more objective than subjective paper and there is no negative marking for the long answers," she said.

Unlike last year, when students had to tackle three papers Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, of two hours duration each, this year they had to answer two papers of three-hour duration each.

The IIT-JEE exam has been undergoing changes for sometime now. Until 2005 the examination had two stages. Those qualifying a screening test sat for the main exam. But since last year, a one-stage examination has been introduced.

Nearly 250,000 students took the exam on Sunday, competing for the 4,000 seats in the seven IITs, as compared to 300,000 students who took the paper last year.

Since there has been no concrete decision yet on the 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC), there has been no change in the number of seats as well. But some students do admit that the quota game was playing at the back of their minds.

"I don`t have any kind of quota so I admit that I was a little worried about the entire quota scene which was on the boil again. But now that the court order has been stayed and the paper was relatively easy, I am relieved!" said Namrata Sharma, an IIT aspirant from Guwahati.

Some students from Bangalore were, however, disappointed because the paper was right in the middle of their class 12 exams.

"I would probably have been more satisfied with my performance if I didn`t have to divide my study time between my board exams and the IIT JEE. But my priority remains IIT so I tried concentrating on it more," said Udayan Joshi of Bangalore.

Barring a few, students were overall quite satisfied with their performance.

New-format IIT-JEE today, 2.5 lakh to appear

New-format IIT-JEE today, 2.5 lakh to appear

Over 2.5 lakh students will appear for Indian Institute of Technology — Joint Entrance Examination on Sunday. These candidates will be contesting for 4,000-odd seats spread over seven institutes in India. With no decision taken on the OBC quota so far, there has been no increase in seats in the IITs.

Till last year, students had to appear for three papers — physics, chemistry and mathematics — of two hours' duration each. This year, candidates will answer two papers. Negative marking for incorrect responses will continue, however.
The management said that the change in the structure was based on logistics.

“Parents and students coming to big cities were facing difficulty with the long and odd hours of the exam. So in order to relieve them of added stress, the change was devised,” said Surendra Prasad, IIT Director.

With a new testing format, the challenges are many for those contesting the limited number of seats. “The last time also they had altered the pattern due to which there was some amount of nervousness, I wouldn’t say there are no jitters this time, but I am fairly confident,” said Ankur Mehta from Faridabad.

The entrance exam pattern has been undergoing changes since last year. Until 2005, there were two stages of tests in the IIT-JEE. The students were required to appear for a screening test and those qualifying the test were allowed to sit for the main exam. However, a one-stage examination was introduced last year.

“I have been preparing myself according to the changes in the structure so that is not so much of a worry. Since this is my last and final attempt, I am very anxious,” said Vaibhav Maheshwari from Mathura.

For first-time aspirant Shweta Pandey, the changed pattern is a boon. “I hate writing long and subjective answers and change to objective questions is a welcome option,” she said. ‘I think this is slightly less taxing though the amount of energy we put in is exactly the same.”

Pandey has been preparing for the exam since the last two years. “Objective answering will help in fetching higher scores,” said Siddharth Goyal from Vasant Vihar, who sounded a little worried about negative marking.

OBC quota: SC order impacts IIT aspirants

OBC quota: SC order impacts IIT aspirants
The IIT entrance exam may be just a few days away but with the Supreme Court staying the OBC quota implementation this year, hundreds of students banking on these seats are suddenly caught off guard.

Rahul Kumar was banking on the reservation for OBC students for an IIT seat. Rahul moved from Darbhanga to Delhi where he could get better coaching.

But after the Supreme Court's decision, he can no longer take a chance at writing the exam as he has already used one of the two shots given to a candidate.

Rahul's dream is to work in the UK as a computer engineer but he has little option but to wait for next year and hope that there will be reservations.

"I am just very frustrated. I don't know what to do now. It's unbelievable that the court would not allow this to happen. Thousands of students like me are left wondering what our next step should be now," he said.

Economic basis

In another part of the Capital, Uttkarsh Kumar wasn't planning to use his OBC certificate to get into IIT. He was instead banking on merit.

In fact he can't understand why people from his community need reservation.

"Reservations will only keep reminding us of the gap between the general category and the OBCs. If you need reservations, it has to be on economic basis. Dhoni is my idol. Look how he made it to the top. He is from Jharkhand from a poor family. If he can so can I," said Uttkarsh Kumar.

At a coaching institute for the IIT entrance exam, there is barely any time to think about the quota controversy.

Students like Kustav Mohanty argue that the anti-reservation protests have been unfair to OBC students.

"It is very important to spare a thought for those who do not have the same opportunities that are available to us. Keeping a certain section of seats reserved for these children only serves to help them out. So while it was a trend to be anti reservation, you just need to stop and think," said Kustuv.

For many students, reserved seats in the country's premier institutes probably brought them one step closer to their dream.

But with the Supreme Court now staying the implementation, their future is ridden with uncertainty, perhaps a major reason why even those against reservations are being forced to rethink.