Defence vs education

April 24, 2012

Over the time you have been researching some issues, you would have visited 100s of articles and more often you come across articles written by normal public and not experts. For example, you start off with articles on defence spending in India, and you dig deep into the subject and reach a page “India tops in illiteracy and Defence Spending” on a Pakistani blog. Its the comments of such blogs I enjoy most. The article is honest with no data manipulations and the tone is, as expected, not so friendly. The comments however try to discredit the author and he defends it well. But sooner or later he turns on the pro-country arguments. This is after repeated assaults on Pakistan’s state of affairs. My point is, the article and some of his comments made very important points. A new way to view the problems. India has a literacy of 74% but in absolute numbers the illiterates are about 300 million which is close to the population of USA which is 312 million.

According to UNESCO estimates, there are about close to 1 billion illiterates in this world. We can say that one in every three illiterates in this world is an Indian. its all in data representation. Lets compare our results with that of China (since that is what we do after Agni-V launch), Brazil and South Africa.

China – literacy rate (Adult) – 95.9% according to 2009 report
Brazil – literacy rate (Adult) – 90% according to 2008 report
South Africa – literacy rate (Adult) – 89% according to 2008 report
India – literacy rate (total) – 74.04% according to 2011 report

(Adult is above 15 years)

China – literacy rate (youth) – 99.4% according to 2009 report
Brazil – literacy rate (youth) – 97.84 according to 2008 report
South Africa – literacy rate (youth) – 97.6 according to 2008 report
India – literacy rate (youth) – 82% according to 2009 report

(youth is 15 to 24 years)

Lets see how much is spent by the countries

China on the other hand spent close to 190 billion US dollars on Education and about 92 billion US dollars on Defence. (irrespective of the rumour that it spends nearly double the declared amount on defence, its still less than that of education)

Brazil Spends about 90 billion US Dollars on Education and about 34 billion US dollars on Defence. (Less for Defence and more for education)

South Africa spends about 24 billion US dollars on Education and about 5 billion US dollars on Defence. (Less for Defence and more for education)

India, in its latest budget spent close to 11 billion US dollars on Education and about 36 billion dollars on Defence. (More for Defence and less for education)

You know that population of India is 120 Cr, China is about 140 Cr, Brazil is about 19.4 Cr and that of South Africa is 5 Cr. Even if you do a crude per-capita expenditure calculation we can see that China, Brazil and South Africa spends more on each person than India does. Also, it spends more on education than on defence. Leave corruption aside and still these numbers are so not encouraging.

note : I have used the US dollars as a common currency for comparison. If there are any discrepancies in the data provided please do point it out.


Education. What exactly is it?

April 6, 2009

This is something that everyone has discussed extensively. What ever I might say here may seem redundant and it might actually be true. But, the purpose of this blog was to give my opinion on anything that I am currently thinking. So, here it goes

The most common conclusion to this discussion is that we need to nurture the creativity and imagination of a student and allow it to grow properly and by its virtue alone that student will be successful in his life. Einstein once said, “Its a miracle that curiosity survives formal education”. And we tend to agree with him, not because he was a genius; we dont exactly need a genius to figure that out. So, everyone talks about this “creativity” and “imagination” a lot. But what exactly is it? I am pretty sure that not every kid is interested in art and drama. So, what is this creativity? Lets go ahead and call it as creative thinking. So, what does that mean? To give you an example, I can take you to my 5th standard mathematics class. We used to do the statement problems those days. The problem would be given in words and we should isolate and extract the numerical information and obtain the solution for the stated problem.

This was fairly easy job once you got hold of those numbers.  So, the major issue here was comprehension. My math teacher, for some unknown reason, had this thing where she asked us to write sentences from the problem that held the numerical information. And then from those written sentences obtain the numbers and do the subsequent math. Now you might ask, “Er… isnt it the way its done?”. Well here it is. The way you learn comprehension in English is way different than what is described above. Comprehension is based on the context and it is very essential. But, if we do it in pieces as we did while solving the problem, we lose that natural ability to comprehend on the go. Even now, I find it pretty difficult to solve a 5th standard statement problem in my head. Mind you they are very easy when compared to the differential equations. Point is, it made me weak in comprehension. English in my school was pretty much non-existent. So, by the time I entered college, I had become a slow reader and to this day have abysmal comprehending skills.

The above method of problem solving also squashes one’s imagination. Though I solved the problem in my head and wrote the answer, the steps used were demanded. Which meant, I had to follow their system of designed rules for problem solving. The rules are good, but they dont have enough elbow space. You cannot contain everyone in those rules since everyone is different. I agree these rules help, but even in my engineering math paper, if I am asked to show the steps of getting a solution to a quadratic equation in complete details, it just completely beats the purpose. That solution is so trivial when compared to the kind of derivation I am about to do, that it is a complete paradigm shift. To put it in other words, you lose the flow and the interest. This will not apply to everyone. I know. But, it will apply to a few people who think the same way I do. And, there are numerous other ways how one’s imagination gets shunted. If I use a scale to draw grass, why is it wrong? You dont mind when “great artists” spill paint on the canvas and display it in a gallery. If you can appreciate their coloured boxes, or the abstract paintings as they are called, then why question how I draw the grass? What ever we do, must inspire us. And if it inspires others too, then its just an added bonus! We must not be forced to create something that inspires OTHERS. Thats just silly. Maybe Mona Lisa inspired millions of people to take up painting, but it did not inspire me to do the same! Its all very subjective.

Let our own imagination inspire our creative thought process.

P S : You can now subscribe to this blog by email. The link is on the right side at the bottom of those widgets

Change the world

April 3, 2009

What one man can do.

If these was any doubt in mind, now its all gone!

Anything is possible!

Ideal response

August 5, 2008

“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education” – Albert Einstein

The thing that fascinates me the about this man is that he had a brain that weighed less than the average human brain! Came across that quote long back; smiled when I read it for the first time. But, I feel miserable when I live it everyday! The man is, as always, right. Engineering college was my childhood dream. I always dreamed that I would be able to do this, build that and every other crazy dream as any child would have. My path was pretty clear from the start. But after three years in this college, I feel that I am wasting my time and energy here to put a high percentage marks in my scorecard. I ask what is the use of getting 90+ if you don’t even know how to tune a pot and set the required voltage input to the comparator? They say that the marks you obtain will be registered in your scorecard and thats what will be valued for your entire life!

I knew things had gone way too far when a professor in a reputed institute asked me WHY I wanted to do a project instead of studying for the exams! I was not only disappointed, but also shocked to hear such a question from a Professor from an institution where research work is worshiped! He literally shook the very base of engineering by asking that question! You don’t learn it until you apply it! Simple was the answer, yet so complex that he lectured us to give up the “madness” of wasting time to do a project that will NOT HELP us in anyway. There were a million things that shot up in my mind that could logically conclude as to why we need to do practical work in engineering. But then I noticed we were standing outside a Lab and he was due to take up a lab session. I thought, heights of Hipocracy!

That is something I would call “ideal response” in this whole system. You mug up everything and vomit and score as high as possible. If you show interest in anything else other than the curriculum then your response deviates from the ideal curve and THAT is not at all acceptable! But, everyday we study that there is no way you can attain ideal response in any practical implementation of theoretical concepts. Then why do they not see it? Because they never paid any attention to the practical details themselves. They did mug it up, but never realised what it meant! So much for great engineers who teach the next generation of great engineers! But please note that I am not generalising it. There are a few cases there too who deviate from the “ideal response” 😀 . And thats the hope people like me cling on to!

I dont want to be an engineering graduate. I want to be an Engineer. And, for those who know, there is all the difference in the world between them! I hope the IEEE chapter and the team will achieve its goals. I would like to thank all the guys here and ofcourse the EEE department lecturers for their enthusiastic involvement in it. Now I so wish that I had been in EEE! Sad, but true!

Religion,Education and Duties

July 31, 2008

Disclaimer :
Views expressed here are strictly personal and are only my interpretation of the subject under consideration. I do not intended to hurt anyone’s sentiment in any way. I merely express my views and understandings with regards to the topic.

I write this post after reading the dd’s response to my post Freedom and Responsibility. It only seems prudent to write it out here. I did intend to write about the diversity, but the other issue I discussed there has been seldom dealt with. The religious issue has been discussed a lot, so I changed the course there. And by the time I returned to what I had started at first, the post was too long. So, here I go on with that discussion

Education. Its a pretty heavy term. Drives away ignorance and opens your mind to accept reality as it is. At least thats what it is intended to be! But, education really is a concise curriculum designed for around roughly 15 years at the end of which you will be in an employable position. As I see it, no syllabus teaches us what UNITY IN DIVERSITY actually means. Only some teachers may take the pain in explaining their students about religious harmony during moral science period(If there is one mind you). What i am trying to say is that schools will give you knowledge but not wisdom. And wisdom is what drives the hatred away and not education. And education is a powerful tool to gain wisdom, but not many use it to do that.

In almost all the Puranas and both the epics, there are numerous instances where GOD himself condemns the religious hatred by touching an untouchable or eating a fruit given by an untouchable or by turning his idol 180° and making a hole in the temple so that his devotee can see him. These are pretty ancient tales and yet we see untouchability still being practised by people. You cant say there are illeterate. They do have the knowledge of what happens in these stories. They have heard them in many religious gatherings and bhajjans. And the riots and kilings are done by people who are literates and have a tag called Hindu in their organization name and yet they do not follow the basic teaching of Ahimsa. Fight to defend, I dont mind, but murder is uncalled for. And THEY HAD FORMAL EDUCATION mind you.

Terrorism, which is another derivative of religious hatred, need not be discussed elaborately. All the movies and books give enough insight into the Islam from which we can deduce that killing is sin. But, of course, the educated people use their power to twist the sentences and derive the meaning they want to. My knowledge of Islam is minimal so I cant really elaborate or go deeper. But the fact that is established is that there is no room for violence there too.

After all the things I said above, I would like to make myself a bit more clear. Education is very important. It must be imparted to each and everyone who lives. But we must not stop at that. Merely accumulated knowledge in the heads of hot blooded young people, or twisted old minds will only be disastrous. People must be made to apply what they learn. They must become intelligent rather than just informed. The must be able to improvise on what they learn in a right way. They must be brought to a state where they can at least judge themselves properly, otherwise what they learn, or whatever they will learn will become redundant! So, approach of education must change and only then we will be able to really make a difference with education.

Now, on a completely different issue about Madarsas; its termed as a sensitive issue. But I hardly believe that it is. Anyone, when blamed, must turn transparent to shut the mouths. But here you find that not happening. Its really ironic that some of them who head these institutions are scholars. Pathetic would fit too I think. So, its really the issue of respecting the country you live in. If your country gives you the freedom to practise your beliefs, then you must react with performing your duties. The point here is that we put our rights before our duties and hence democracy fails. And not to mention the various political benefits that accompany by such behaviour!

Strict rules will hurt religious sentiments! Of whom? A few people I believe. But, the best way to be miserable is to try and make everyone happy. We need to act a bit more fiercely when we make rules. Moreover, a logical debate would resolve the issue of government’s intervention in Madarsa anyways. Its the political debate that hinders the decision in such matters, especially when there is power at stake!! Riots too are a complete disgrace to humanity. They violate the very cause that these people are fighting for! Peace, equality, humanity, sanity????!! There is right to protest, but not to kill!!! Yet, people do that and only the innocent die!

These all can be resolved if we act strongly and not just be afraid of hurting the so called “religious sentiments” of people living here. What about they hurting the “Patriotic sentiments” of crores of people? Doesn’t that count? Doesn’t they running away from their fundamental duties count? Or, are these duties just ornamental in nature? Just to impress people who read it. Take some time and read these duties that are listed in the constitution

Fundamental duties:
It shall be the duty of every citizen of India –

  1. to abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National flag and the National anthem
  2. to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspire our national struggle for freedom
  3. to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India
  4. to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so
  5. to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all people of India transcending religious linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women
  6. to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture
  7. to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, rivers, lakes, wild life and to have compassion of living creatures
  8. to develop the scientific temper, humanization and the spirit of inquiry and reform
  9. to safeguard public property and to abjure violence
  10. to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavor and achievement

Sadly, when you are a part of a riot, you violate all these codes! In terms of education, we get to see this list in our Civics text books, memorize them, vomit in exams and evaporate them from our minds. Why? Because nobody bothered to actually make you follow them as a kid and you too never bothered to think about them after that year of school! So, where do we go with education?

What we learn and what we value

July 24, 2008

Two days of slogging and my last HR interview is what I will always remember from my first campus interview. I got placed in TCS which is a software firm. So, life is secured? In a way I feel like that. I will have SOMETHING if my plans go wrong in the near future. But the wait was AGRRRR…….!

The wait was agonizing. Online test for 917 people is not an easy job. Waiting in the queue for hours together was irritating. The place was chaotic, totally uncontrollable. Come on, if our friends are asking us to stop moving around and stand in line, WHO would listen to them? But as I entered the Internet lab, everything was very organized. The same exact thing happened on the interview day. It was very well organized! I had two rounds of interviews in the indoor stadium and I was asked to wait upstairs in the GD room for my final round

The HR interviewers were Mr. Naveen and another lady who did not introduce herself to us. But, my friend still thinks she was rather very cute :D. I have not seen many people who are as relaxed as Naveen was. Totally cool under the pressure that we created on him. My HR interview was with 6 other friends of mine, a bit weird I know considering it should be one on one. Anyways, we sat in the GD room waiting for him, trying to predict what they might do there. We had come to a conclusion that we might have a group discussion round up there. Finally the wait was over and we were made to sit in the small GD room, and trust me, it was small for 9 people, and then began the 3rd round…

He had our resumes in his hand and the evaluation sheets from the last two rounds as well. After having a quick look at them, he asked us to tell something about ourselves that was not there in our resumes and he gave us 45 seconds to do that. You know whats the most difficult question? “Tell me about yourself”. try to answer that. But Naveen went one step further. He asked us to tell something that was NOT there in our resume. And on top of that he gives us 45 seconds to do that. I mean its crazy that you cant speak even 45 seconds about yourself!!!!! We were allowed to go whenever we were ready.

My friend went first.

Friend : Hello I am so-and-so, I am studying in BMSCE. Something that NOT there in the resume is that I have learnt classical music and I am good at singing(He is really good at it). And I er……..

Naveen : 20 seconds up!

(Friend smiles like an idiot)

Naveen : 30 seconds up

(We all smile looking from the two interviewers to my friend and back to the interviewers)

Naveen : 40-41-42-43-44 aaaand 45!!! What dude? Thats all? Whos next?

At that point everyone stared at me. I am like, ‘Why the hell are you guys staring at me? DO NOT stare. Why is everyone staring??!’. Then I realised, they all wanted me to go next. I was sitting next to the friend who spoke first. I had no other choice, but to speak. I thought everyone could hear my heart beating as a lifted my hand to acknowledge that I was up next. Naveen nodded in approval and I began

Me : Hello everyone, I am Anoop doing E n C in BMSCE. Well, apart from all thats put in my resume, I have also learnt Karate!(Why did I tell THAT!!!!!)

Naveen : Karate!! What style?

(I stared at him blankly, I was stumped and I could not remember anything about it. For the record, I havent practised for the past 7 years)

Me : Its a martial art

Naveen : (Raised his brow) ‘Course it is. Do you know the meaning of Karate?

Me : (I was trying to remember it. I knew it, AGRRRRR..) No sir

My another friend lifted his hand and said “Bare hands”. Damn! I knew that.

Naveen : Correct. (He looked at me) Which belt are you?

Me : Brown sir.

Naveen : Name any two katas(kata is a sequence of moments, a kind of model. There is atleast one kata in each belt)

Me : (Stumped again!!! I needed time to remember them, but that was not available!!!!) Sir, Katas are just called using numbers, they dont really have name(Mind you that its true ok? I didnt make it up. Just that you use Japanese to number them and not English)

Naveen : Really? (He smiled) Do the first kata then.

Me : Now?!!!

Naveen : Yes

Me : HERE?!! (I was thinking he would say GOT YOU!!! any moment)

Naveen : Yes. Move your chair guys and make him some space

My heart was going to come out of its cage! I was racking my brains to atleast remember the name of the first kata. I could not. I didnt know what to do. All my friends were smiling widely and gleefully. I knew they were trying to tell me BUSTED!!!!!! Then I got into my stance and took a deep breath and yelled KATA and everyone’s smile was wiped out. Then I did the traditional breath out and suddenly I started moving. It was like I was back in my old classroom in front of my sensei. I did the first three moves and then at the fourth move I almost punched the glass on the divider. He asked me to stop and then asked me to do a brown belt Kata. I did two moves of that one too and then he told me to sit down. I was too excited to sit down!! :D. He then quizzed me about my masters and their whereabouts. Finally he said

“I used to teach Karate for black belt students before working here in TCS”

Everyone looked at him with their mouth wide-open. Literally! He is slightly overweight, but he knew the stuff and then I realised where he got that cool and calm mind from. Since then I have started practising Karate again. And, I do remember the names of all the Katas and the stances. Simillar things happened with my other friends too. Naveen knew about almost all the feilds, be it classical music, Karate, Mathematics, Scouts, Mountaineering, Cricet, Football or anything. He put everyone of us in a tight spot with his questions. Everyone was impressed by his personality and my friends are really looking forward to work with him in the future.

But for me it was a reminder as to how we overlook some of the most incredible things we have learnt in life. All this time I have strived to find ways to focus myself, to improve my concentration. But I never turned to what I aready knew. It is annoying actually. But as they say, better late than never. So, I learnt my lesson. Value everything you ever learn in life.

P.S : Written test was on 18th and the interviews on 19th