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Author Archives: Ravi Lochan Singh

Despite less Indian students reaching its Universities, UK announces further tightening… WHY?

Mirror Mirror on the wall, Who is the most “unwelcoming” of them all !!!

The answer actually is known to all but the policy makers in the UK seem to be under an illusion that they can continue to “tighten” the policies and still be seen as “welcoming”. Indian student numbers have been falling dramatically over the last few years and if we go by the reports, it could be well below the 10,000 students for 2014. Britain, which briefly in 2010, even became the No.1 destination for Indian students has now moved to No.4 place after the US, Australia and Canada… and may even slide below NZ in the coming year… unless the policy makers think hard and in the right direction.

But this “thinking hard and thinking in right direction” is not going to happen… The policy makers are in a bid to woo voters and it is all politics at play in the UK.

News-reports indicate that after November of this year, UK is pushing with more tightening with the student-visas and institutions with more than 10% visa refusals may be restricted from recruiting in overseas markets. This is actually crazy and defies all logic. At this time the institutions have to aim to encourage even the fence-sitters to consider UK and hence the aim should be to aggressively sell the salient highlights of the British education… But what the policy makers seem to be doing successfully is creating more media noise on how unwelcoming they are going to be in the future.

Data revealed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England shows that the number of Indian students fell from 18,535 in 2010-11 to 13,250 in 2011-12 and further to 10,235 in 2012-13. (source: TOI report… UK set to toughen student visa rules further from Nov )

  • There is no likelihood of the Post-Study-Work being reinstated in UK for overseas students. At-least not in the near future. Subject to the outcome of the Scottish referendum, there is a possibility of Scotland re-introducing a variant of the same in the coming year and the hope is that England/Wales may have to have a similar policy to remain competitive.
  • There is little likelihood of UK changing its degree structures to meet internationally recognised formats. Even the quality Master degrees from quality institutions in UK continue to be for one year, which is a sticky point with its recognition in India (and possibly in some other countries). AIU, India’s peak equivalence granting body, clearly has stated that the less than two year degrees are not-equal. The proposed bridging programs are also non-starters and remain restricted anyways.

Hence, while UK will not grant post-study-work; India will not give post-study-work as it will not award equivalence to the UK degrees such as the Masters…

Now with further tightening being announced and publicised, is UK simply telling students… don’t come near us.

Feeling sorry indeed… for UK and our students… There was just no need for this at this time…

VINASH KALE VIPRIT BUDDHI

 

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

India’s becoming a permanent member of Washington Accord is great news but Minister Irani probably misread that all Engineering degrees will now be at par globally…

After years of effort and several failures, India finally became the 17th member of the exclusive Washington Accord on Friday. It will help create equivalence of engineering degree programmes and allow Indians to practice engineering in other member countries.

The credit for making India a member of Washington Accord goes to many individuals who worked behind the scenes for years. Among them are Raman Menon Unnikrishnan of California State University, Fullerton, who pleaded India’s case along with former National Board of Accreditation (NBA) member secretary Dinesh K Paliwal and education secretary Ashok Thakur.

Paliwal was responsible for organizing the World Summit on Accreditation in 2012 that was used for backroom diplomacy to allay fears about the Indian system. The process of accreditation had started during late Arjun Singh’s tenure as HRD minister. During Kapil Sibal’s time, India was made a temporary member. In January, a comprehensive audit of NBA was undertaken by the Washington Accord team.

Washington Accord will, however, not be valid for IT engineers. India will have to sign the Seoul Accord to create similar equivalence of programmes. Becoming part of Washington Accord also does not necessarily mean that all engineering degrees by all Indian colleges will get equivalence with those of other member countries. NBA has shortlisted 220-odd engineering colleges as Tier-I institutes whose undergraduate engineering programme is in tune with what is required under the Accord.

But even Tier-I institutes which include IITs/NITs/BITS Pilani besides many autonomous and deemed universities will now have to apply afresh to NBA and only after extensive verification of their programmes will they be declared fit to be part of Washington Accord institutions. A massive redesigning of course will take place with emphasis on outcomes and letting students explore and innovate.

For the crowded list of Tier-II institutions, NBA has given a roadmap so that they are well prepared to become members of Washington Accord. NBA has asked universities to allow affiliated engineering colleges to design at least 50% of the course. For instance, Washington Accord lays emphasis on teaching social sciences along with engineering.

“Engineers should have knowledge of the environment so that they know how their work is going to have an impact on the ecosystem. They also need understanding of society, management and communication skills,” an HRD ministry official said.

Source for the above is an article from Times of India (see link)

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Best News for Indian Education: India included as a “permanent member” of Washington Accord.

The Washington Accord is an International Agreement among bodies responsible for accrediting undergraduate engineering degree programs. It recognizes the substantial equivalency of programs accredited by those bodies and recommends that graduates of programs accredited by any of the signatory bodies be recognized by the other bodies as having met the academic requirements for entry to the practice of engineering in the area of their jurisdiction.

The membership of Washington Accord is an international recognition of the quality of undergraduate engineering education offered by the member country and is an avenue to bring it into the world class category. It encourages and facilitates the mobility of engineering graduates and professionals at international level.

(See more at: http://www.nbaind.org/En/1033-washington-accord.aspx#sthash.MxcmjHyO.dpuf)

India has been a provisional member of the WA for a few years now and there has been a concerted effort on part of the Ministry of HRD over several years towards the goal of securing a “permanent membership”.

Now that India has been granted the “permanent” membership, its a very good news for Indian Engineers seeking employment and migration world-wide.

photo

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2014 in washington accord

 

SOL 2014-15 finalised: Accounting, IT stays on; Chefs added… I win the bet…

In February, I had blogged that …

…would “wager my bet” on Accountant and also the various IT professions continuing in the SOL when it is released.

( http://ravilochansingh.com/2014/02/18/will-accountant-make-it-to-aussie-sol-in-2014-again-time-to-wager-a-bet/ )

Now that the Minister has issued the press release confirming that “No existing occupations are being removed from the SOL“, It is time to blush a little with the thought that the arguments put forth in February at the time when students and potential migrants in Australia were frothing with the thought of their occupation being moved out of the list based on AWPA recommendation. Even the education providers who “lived” on the international student’s attraction to these programs were keeping their finger’s crossed. That anxiety is now over… and rightly so. In-fact the addition of “Chefs” is welcome.

The media release from the Minister states…

Joint media statement with Andrew Robb – Minister for Trade and Investment, and Michaelia Cash – Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.

Chefs, bricklayers and wall and floor tilers will be added to the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) from July 1 to help meet the skills needs of the Australian economy, as announced today by the Minister for Trade and Investment, the Hon. Andrew Robb, and the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash.

Minister Robb said the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) works independently of government to provide annual recommendations on the composition of the SOL to ensure it responds to Australia’s changing skill needs.

‘The AWPA analyses evidence such as the labour market, education and training, migration and general economic and demographic data to make sure we get the balance right,’ Minister Robb said.

‘In this case, bricklayers and tilers have been added to the list because of an increase in demand predicted for these occupations as well as a decrease in apprenticeship completions.’

Minister Cash said the addition of chefs to the SOL reflects that the occupation is in short supply, coupled with strong growth projected in the café and restaurant sector.

‘Including chefs on the SOL will provide greater flexibility for businesses to recruit skilled chefs from overseas when they cannot source these skills locally,’ Minister Cash said.

‘The addition of these occupations will be especially welcomed in regional areas, where there is a known deficit of skilled workers in the hospitality and construction industries.’

The SOL is used for people applying for the independent or family sponsored points tested visa or temporary graduate (subclass 485) work stream. Before prospective migrants can apply for independent skilled migration, they must submit an expression of interest via SkillSelect.

No existing occupations are being removed from the SOL, which currently lists 188 occupations that Australia needs.

 

If the Minister “hastily” scraps Delhi University’s FOUR YEAR DEGREE format, it will be her first mistake…

If Smriti Irani, India’s “fresh” HRD minister goes ahead with BJP’s promised agenda item of scrapping the 4 year format, it will be her first mistake. The four year format has faults which can be corrected. The four year format has some uniqueness too which can be explained better. The four year format was also thrust forth by the VC without much deliberations, is also possibly true. But to now scrap it will be even a bigger negative. It will undermine the autonomy of the University. Ms Irani has had meetings with ABVP (which is the BJP patronised student Union) and also sections of the staff unions that have allegiance to the BJP. This is not sufficient. The University should be allowed to run the “already introduced format” for a few years and should also be allowed to correct any inadequacies in the format.

When Delhi University introduced the 4 year degree format, I had aired my views. I had found some merits in the model in place though had felt that the the VC and the promoters of the concept had made an error in quickly equating it to the US 4 year degree. US too offers a 4 year degree but it differs to the Delhi University model in several ways. There are no exit points or the concept of “Honours” in the US format. Except for the duration, there are two totally different formats.

Last year’s blog: Delhi University to offer 4 year degrees. The criticism doesn’t make sense….

However, I want to stress on the following from that article…

The Delhi University proposal hence is not a copying exercise of the American structure primarily since Delhi would allow exit after two years with a diploma, after the third with a bachelors and one additional fourth year will take it to honours qualification.

While I am appreciative of this structure, I have a feeling that Delhi intends to have all students in the four year mode and allow an exit earlier if they so want. This will make the  non-honours degrees to be inferior. This will disadvantage Delhi too as students may opt for three year full degrees offered by other Indian Universities. The ideal strategy should be to enrol all in a three year General Bachelors degree and only encourage those who wish to go on to academia or a research career later to undertake the honours year. Most Indian Masters qualifications should be able to admit the graduating students of non-honours degrees too and so after the third year itself. Holding an honours is not a requirement at all for coursework driven Master degrees such as an MBA or MSc. Even Mumbai University’s Bachelor degrees are non-honours degrees. Most Indian students who study in Australia or some other countries too enrol in non-honours Bachelors and have no issues in studying for a Masters thereafter. They opt for an honours only if they intend to undertake research or move on to Masters by research or PhD as then the honours vastly helps in readiness of the student.

Lets encourage the development but at the same time, structure it in a way that the fourth year remains optional for “most” students.

 

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2014 in Government of India, HRD, Indian students, MoHRD, Uncategorized

 

US First Lady sells STUDY ABROAD… what a contrast to Indian leaders who consider this as “brain drain”…

In March, the First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to American and Chinese students at the Stanford Center at Peking University on the importance of studying abroad.

When I hear her spell out the advantages for American students to venture out… I could not help but be reminded of what Indian current PM had stated regarding Indian students travelling overseas. This was about six months ago in one of his speeches.

We lost our intellectual capital and also our monetary capital..! Can’t the Indian Government arrange that the youth gets good education in India, they do not have to roam here and there..?

Interestingly, the first PM from Gujarat, Late Morarji Desai, too had similar thoughts as he indicated in one of his messages to my senior colleague (Mr Paul Chellakumar)…

Morarji

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

My wish-list for the Minister on Indian Education has caught attention… Hindustan Times has reported it and now MHRD will take a look… Power of blogging indeed.

On 30th May, I put out my wish-list for the new Minister for HRD (Education). It can be found on the following link. http://ravilochansingh.com/2014/05/30/my-wish-list-for-indian-education-an-open-letter-to-the-honourable-minister-for-hrd-smt-smriti-zubin-irani/

Hindustan Times of this day has reported the blog and am quite certain that now those in a position to make a difference will take note… My purpose is served…

HT_Epaper

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

My wish-list for Indian Education: An OPEN LETTER to the Honourable Minister for HRD, Smt Smriti Zubin Irani.

Honourable Minister,

I know that your first few days in the job have been taken up in a controversy around your qualification and also the fact that you mis-represented under oath in the affidavits. However, I am not going to get distracted from that and will hope that you come out with your clarifications and find a way to settle the issue. My personal opinion on these issues is also not of concern and so will move on to highlight some of the challenges before you as a Minister.

HRD Ministry has had a mix of good and bad leadership in the past and we have experienced fair lethargy on part of Mr Arjun Singh and Mr Murli Manohar Joshi but all that seemed to change in more recent past. We can criticise your predecessor but it is also a fact that HRD Ministry was amongst the few where there was some “action” happening and hence am impressed by your cautious statements on the first day of assuming your role though pledging to formulate polices based on BJP manifesto, which in my opinion spells out some very good directional points. If we can achieve what has been promised there, we would have done well.

Times of India provided a list of priorities and I have added some comments to them:

Strengthen the Right to Education. The Vajpayee government had made education a fundamental right in 2002.

  • The first task should be to help states with funds so that trained and qualified teachers are recruited.

We are producing thousands of educated youth who are not employable. To make education in line with the requirements of the job market, a big push is required in skilling.

  • Bulk of the new jobs will be in industry (manufacturing, particularly) and in the services sector. We need to produce an army of skilled personnel for them. Hence an urgent need to re-launch the drive for polytechnics across smaller cities as well.

There is a need to reverse BJP’s opposition to allowing foreign universities to open campus in India.

  • Even if Ivy Leaguers are not interested initially, many A-grade institutions like Caltech and Duke are keen. The bill is pending in Parliament. Once legislation is in place, FDI would flow. Already, 100% FDI is allowed.

A quality audit of IITs/IIMs needed.

  • IITs should be asked to pay attention to research. It has become a factory producing engineers. IIMs should be given deemed university status so that it attracts genuine research in the fast changing economy. Despite expansion, there is a scope for more IITs/IIMs. Also a need to fill up vacancies which is largely caused due to lesser number of researchers and the lower interest in academia of our bright students. Change the mindset.

The syllabus of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the vehicle of RTE, should be recast.

  • Top priority should be given to teaching English. Across India a new aspirational class has emerged that feels constrained by the lack of knowledge of English.

Mid-Day Meal needs a serious revamp. HRD ministry needs to get into a mission mode to ensure hygienic food reaches children. Cook-cum-helpers should be given better and regular remuneration.

  • Add to this the improvements required to bring incentivise the students to attend school. Bihar’s government scheme of giving cycles to school girls was very successful. The PM has talked of ensuring toilets for girl students at schools and that is a must. If the states don’t listen to your recommendation, encourage the MPs to use their fund allocations for this.

UPA’s promise of 6,000 quality schools the district level, 2,500 through the private-public partnership (PPP) mode, didn’t take off.

  • The new government should kick start these schools with qualified teachers and syllabus that bridges the urban-rural divide. However the quality of the teachers is of equal importance.

The huge gap between central and state universities needs to be bridged.

  • In this regard, UPA’s Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan should be bolstered. This is the first time that Centre is doing something for state universities. Initial response of states has been positive.

I know that the above eight points will require a bit of “academic study” and so here I “simplify” and with “example” some of the issues from my wish-list that can be considered by your august office.

We do have a shortage of teachers but a hasty mass-drive to hire teachers will not be advisable. 

  • In 2005, a BJP-JDU Government took charge in the state of Bihar. The focus was more on getting the village students to the classrooms. The key issue facing the schools was huge shortage of teachers.

… in 2005, the teacher-student ratio in schools was alarming, one teacher for every 300 students. The government went on a hiring spree, in excess of 2,70,000 para teachers were appointed.

“The imbalance had to be urgently corrected as a first step”, a senior officer told me. “There are issues of quality but they can wait, our first priority was to man the classrooms; who would send children to schools without teachers/ Should we have waited another decade to train teachers before we moved to primary education? A whole new generation would have gone unlettered.”

(Sankarshan Thakur beautifully described the “education revolution” initiated in Bihar in his book SINGLE MAN…)

That may have been an issue in Bihar in 2005 but in the long term, I get a feeling that without the right teachers being appointed… especially when 2,70,000 teachers had to be found quickly… we are faced with another problem…

Academician Rukmini Banerji… wrote of alarming deficiencies in a 2011 article in Economic and Political Weekly. “Perhaps the most important deficit that needs to be addressed immediately by the government in elementary education is the capability of teachers in primary schools to teach… Here is an example of a percentage problem that teachers were asked to do. The question is similar to questions in Standard 5 textbooks. The question combines a “do you know” task with a “can you explain” task: “There are thirty-eight children enrolled in a class. Of these twenty-three are present today. What percentage of students is absent today?” Only 25 percent of teachers could solve this problem. The findings from the language tasks completed by teachers are equally sobering: less than 50 percent teachers could meaningfully summarize a Standard 5 level text.” A random survey of para teachers by reporters of The Telegraph found a mathematics teacher who couldn’t do multiples of eleven and beyond. Another, who claimed to teach science, social science, English and arithmetic at the mille-school level, did not know what potato or tomato could mean. Asked to name the president of India, a history teacher said he would check and get back. An English teacher wrote “literachur” for literature and singled out William Shakespeare for sublime elevation. “Sexpeer,” he called him. If this were a spoof, it would have been possible to laugh.

The issue of filling out vacancies with quality teaching staff is an issue not just with village schools but also with the Higher Education institutions including IITs and IIMs. UPA Government introduced a number of new IITs and such institutions but that led to another problem. A friend from my college days (and a well quoted expert), Manish Sabharwal, wrote in The Economic Times (see link)

The speech by Narendra Modi that rightly put talent at the heart of greatness has got tangled with his proposal to create 13 new IITs, 15 IIMs and 21 AIIMS. People opposing say this is unfeasible because 13 new IITs won’t find the 1,300 new faculties while old IITs have 41% of their teaching posts vacant. People welcoming say this will improve youth access to the signaling value – the old age of IITs and IIMs being good places to be at but better places to be from — and the new IIT Hyderabad has managed to fill 102 of the 105 faculty positions. The AIIMS expansion is less controversial – most people agree with the insanity in producing only 37,000 doctors every year relative to 15 lakh engineers. India needs 2 lakh doctors every year and must reverse the high southern concentration of medical colleges.

Vocational Education and Community Colleges: Some work has happened in this respect and that should be continued. I also understand that several Community Colleges have recently been given a go-ahead. This can take away the pressure on Universities and also be of great help.

  • However, this can only and only benefit if there can be a qualification framework that can lead to students completing the advance diplomas with the ability to articulate into degrees. I do hope I am holding your attention on this. India currently has no system of Recognition of Prior Learning and limits mobility of a student from one institution to another.

Foreign Education and related issues:

  • Do reverse the BJP-RSS stance on Foreign Universities opening campuses or any operations in India. There seems to be a continuing belief amongst your party members and in the RSS that students studying abroad are resulting in a “Brain Drain”. All over the world, such notions have been rubbished a long time ago and the new term that we use is “Brain Gain”. This means that the student who has added value overseas leads to a gain for the nation. The forex used for overseas study is also not a drain on our resources when we view it in medium term. The repatriation of forex to India by students who choose to work or settle overseas far exceeds the amount that is spent on their education. I am a little concerned with the following content (full speech on the PM’s website and on this link) from the Indian PM’s speech in Hyderabad:

Friends, there was a time when the world used to come to India for education. Youngsters from across the nations of world used to come here for their studies. Friends, the figures of the Indian Government state that within last one year, Rs. 1,20,000 crore has been spent from Indian treasury for the education of Indian youth who have gone abroad for studies. Why, because they were not getting the education of the kind that they were looking for. We lost our intellectual capital and also our monetary capital..! Can’t the Indian Government arrange that the youth gets good education in India, they do not have to roam here and there..? 

The data on the forex is wrong but I shall not get into that here. Lets just go by the spirit of the speech only. This is a reference to the brain drain and forex drain… Both only happen in short term and in medium to long term, the returns to the country is immense.

There is a need to simplify and fix the issue of “recognition of globally valid degrees” in India.

  • The current system that does-not recognize “shorter than two years” degrees even from some of the topmost institutions (including such as LSE) and the system that just doesn’t gives equivalence to degrees that are gained by students having studied at multiple institutions carrying credits from one to another, need a full refresh of software. AIU needs to be done away with and world standards can be used instead of discovering one of our own. I have been lobbying through my blogs and articles on the issue of mutual recognition of foreign qualifications in India… Please do google.

And please don’t reverse some good decisions taken by the previous government simply out of vendetta against certain state governments. I hear that the allocation of the two new Central Universities to Bihar is being reversed as one of the early decisions… It may remain untrue.

Honourable Minister, If you do promise to look into the above, I promise not to further rake up the issue of your not having attended a college or having provided fake sworn affidavits under oath. These are after all “chalta hai” in India… and you will be judged by the body of your work and not by the pieces of paper that we hang on our wall.

 

Changing bottles does not change the wine… Education NZ reboots its education agent engagement: IEEN to NZIER to NZSA and now to ENZRA and then further ENZOP…

 

But then inability to build a lasting relationship with education agents can turn out to be the nemesis for the program. I have been an active supporter of NZ Education and what it offers. Have also done several blogs appreciating the work being put out. However, this time, I must express my disappointment.

The release as provided on the Education NZ website appears to be nothing new in reality. Every few years the market gets informed on a new abbreviation to look out for when assuring themselves on the education agent’s credibility. As a member of all the named bodies till date, I can say with utmost certainly that this is harming the image of NZ and ENZ should have retained the brand of NZSA even if there was to be a changed internal regulation. After all, even ENZ retained the same name after it became a crown entity. Agents have spent significantly on creating an awareness on the NZSA in the marketplace.

The above sentiments has been expressed as a well-wisher of Education New Zealand.

Agent programme factsheet

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Why Indians have to “lie” about their qualification? Case of Mukesh Ambani and its contrast with Steve Ballmer.

The former CEO of Microsoft and the current Chairman of Reliance Industries studied at Stanford at the same time. Both dropped out at the end of first year itself. However only one of the two friends went on to lie and announce that he had been awarded an MBA. Why did he have to lie… but then maybe in India, being a drop-out “was” looked down upon… Now things are definitely changing and it seems that he can easily correct his CV now…

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta reported in his article in 2005…

It was about as fancy a bash as Mumbai’s top brass could have organised. The venue was, of course, a five-star hotel. Those invited included the cream of corporate captains from the city. The distinguished guest for the evening to speak on the topic ‘Unlocking Innovation’ was the CEO of one the best known companies in the world, Microsoft Corporation. To introduce the speaker, Steve Ballmer, was his classmate from the Stanford University’s School of Business, Mukesh D. Ambani, who is the Chairman and Managing Director of India’s largest privately-owned company, Reliance Industries Limited. The main sponsor of the event was cnbc-tv18, a television channel in which a Reliance group company has an equity stake.

The evening began with Mukesh Ambani introducing the ‘towering figure’ of Ballmer who is a ‘household name all over the world’. He started by stating: “Steve and I were part of the same class at the Stanford University School of Business. Steve went on to configure one of the greatest innovation-led enterprises of all time, Microsoft. I came back to India to help my father build Reliance, virtually from nothing to a $ 23 billion corporation with global standing today.” 

“As CEO of Microsoft, Steve has infused in the organisation a creative blend of energy and discipline. I am not surprised. Even at Stanford, he displayed outstanding qualities of leadership and creativity. In all our study groups, Steve always took charge. But what impressed me the most about him was his human qualities, his ability to connect with all his classmates and build a rapport with each and every one of them.” 

The 47-year-old elder son of the late Dhirubhai Ambani heaped more fulsome praise on his Stanford University classmate by extolling his high energy levels before it was time for Ballmer to walk with a springing gait and come up in front of the arc lights to the resounding sound of orchestral music before making his presentation before the elite gathering. “Wow,” he started. “That was quite a bit of music and video there.”

Ballmer then said how it was an honour and a privilege for him to speak with those present about innovation, not only from the vantage point of a corporation that applied it but also from the point of view of organisations that applied technological innovations. “But before I dive into it,” said the balding Microsoft CEO, “I want to put in one piece of information that Mukesh left out of his very wonderful and kind introduction.” 


Before he dropped a bombshell, Ballmer said: “I hope he (Mukesh) won’t mind.” “But in our class in Stanford Business School, there were exactly two people who dropped out at the end of the first year, me and Mukesh,” disclosed Ballmer with a beaming smile to a round of loud applause from those present. He didn’t stop there. As the clapping subsided, he quipped: “So I’m not sure what qualifications we have to speak with you on innovation, but we’re going to anyway.” More applause followed.

A senior executive of the Reliance group, who now happens to be firmly in the camp of Mukesh Ambani’s estranged younger brother Anil, was to later remark: “Some of us didn’t know what hit us at that time. Frankly, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry, whether to believe Steve Ballmer or to treat it as a joke.”

Subsequently, this executive spent some time surfing the internet scanning the university’s alumni list of MBA students. He couldn’t find the name of Mukesh D. Ambani in the list, although it was noted elsewhere that he had once addressed a gathering at the university. “I then decided to ask Anilbhai about whether Steve Ballmer was correct or not and he confirmed that his brother had indeed not completed his two-year MBA degree course but had dropped out after the first year,” this executive said.

The surprise that the Microsoft CEO’s off-the-cuff remark caused to this unnamed executive was not atypical. After all, the head of the giant corporate conglomerate  has, from the time he returned to India from the US in 1981, always been claiming he holds a MBA degree from Stanford University instead of stating that he merely studied there. The ‘fact’ of his holding an MBA has been explicitly stated time and again in various official documents such as annual reports of companies in the Reliance group, including the group’s flagship Reliance Industries Limited. 

True Lies: an excerpt from RIL’s annual report that claimsMukeshAmbani is a Stanford MBAis3

 

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Now some Australian TAFE/Private Advanced Diplomas to also get SVP…

I can visualise TAFE providers (and some Private Institutions) feeling so relieved. However, just hold on… The list of providers is to be decided later this year but would assume that all those who are currently included under SVP for their few degrees can almost be certain to be included for their diplomas. Before you read the text of the media release, a few pointers:

WATCH OUT for students dropping from the packaged programs to the new Advanced Diplomas in 2015. Movement will be from SVP to SVP.

WATCH OUT for an increase in student numbers from one region and the associated issues.

CONSIDER doing away with the system of packaging altogether now…This is a good thing.

MUST CONSIDER introducing PSW (Post Study Work) for job-ready Advanced Diploma graduating students too.

Joint media release with the Hon Scott Morrison MP, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Education, Leader of the House.

Streamlined visa processing arrangements will be extended to students enrolled in advanced diploma level courses at low immigration risk providers, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Scott Morrison and Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne said today.

Minister Morrison said the streamlining of the visa application process for advanced diploma courses will benefit eligible students through simpler and faster visa processing, and is in addition to existing arrangements for eligible higher education sector students.

‘This will enable eligible education providers in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector and higher education sector to directly access SVP. This will make study in Australia even more attractive to overseas students, while at the same time ensuring that immigration risk is appropriately managed,’ Minister Morrison said.

Minister Pyne said that these changes will substantially benefit Australia’s high-quality VET and higher education sectors, supporting the sustainable growth of Australia’s international education industry while providing a vital boost to the economy.

‘The number of international students seeking to study in Australia continues to rebound positively, with an increase of over 27 per cent in the number of visas granted to offshore applicants in the 2013-14 programme year,’ Minister Pyne said.

‘Extending SVP arrangements will help capitalise on these trends, reducing red tape and helping to attract further students from overseas.’

Invitations to participate will be sent to eligible providers in the second half of 2014. Subject to relevant legislative change, under the stewardship of the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash, the government proposes to implement this extension by early 2015.

 

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Is there a degree that a Prime Minister should possess?

Apparently None. A few days back I shared links to an article which listed educational qualifications of current world leaders and compared that to the fact that the Indian PM only has a correspondence undertaken degree (no regular degree). That article written by a journalist who I understand didn’t undertake a degree himself, was only indicating the two mistakes that people with no formal education tend to make. Usually, a lack of education produces two instincts in leaders.

The first is the instinct to simplify. The other, a product of the first and more dangerous, is certitude. Dangerous, particularly when one is convinced that one is “decisive”—a word that really means that someone who is quick in making decisions. Sanjay Gandhi, who was barely literate (he failed in, and then dropped out of, high school), had just such a dangerous certitude.
Doubt is usually the sign of an enlightened mind. In our parts, however, it is seen as indecision when we are assessing leadership and therefore something not heroic.
Certitude is seen by Indians as a virtue in making leaders strong and decisive. But it is equally an indicator that its possessor suffers from a lack of awareness of opposing arguments, of lack of data and information. This is a universal problem, of course. In the West, it is the conservative who yearns for decisive leadership and a stamping of authority. Later, when the decisive leader produces a war that is pure stupidity, the conservative is baffled and chastised.

Additionally, I had only added that my preference is for a leader who is well read, well travelled and well educated. Education to me is a combination of what we learn and experience in a classroom or academia and equally outside the classroom. However, going by the comments that my FB post attracted even from well educated, well travelled and well read friends was that when it comes to leading a nation, they can simply rubbish the assertions citing examples of well educated leaders who had disappointed the nation. Frankly, there was emotions being expressed and like debaters at schools they were only rebutting the motion because they were supporters of an individual who was not well read, well travelled or well educated. This fact by itself confirms that to be a leader, the circumstances are more important than anything else. Notions that a leader would have studied Churchill, would know the revolutions, would have a balanced perspective on Che Guevara, or would even know Indian history or would have a study of the various revolutions of recent times… Is irrelevant. Wow… I and my understanding was wrong…
As a student leader (possibly a little exaggeration as had only contested and won as General Secretary of Student Union and nothing beyond) and having dreamt of being a leader in future (possibly a little imaginative for a 20 year old who was nick-named “Revolution Singh”), I had tried studying the path or training of leaders but clearly my study was only partial. Being well read, well travelled or well educated are only optional add-ons. Some studies based on the poll performances of best performing five parties of the recent elections may also conclude that to be a successful leader in India, one needs to remain single or become single.
FB humour and coincidences aside, now I know why I did-not reach the next league. I didn’t have the circumstances in my favour and my beliefs were more book-ish. In india you have to have the right caste, right religion, right pedigree, loyalty to a family or parivar, excellent media (also social media) skills, changing ideology…

Still let’s be aware of the academic education and training of current world leaders as it does matter in some countries…

In the UK, the probable future leader Boris Johnson is from Oxford University. His degree is in Literae Humaniores, meaning the Classics of ancient Greece and Rome. Prime minister David Cameron is also from Oxford as is former prime minister Tony Blair. Former prime minister Gordon Brown has a PhD and so has Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. Chinese president Xi Jinping also holds a doctorate and Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe has a master’s degree from the University of Southern California. France’s François Hollande has a postgraduate degree from the elite ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration). Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott is a Rhodes scholar from Oxford. Canada’s prime minister Stephen Harper has a master’s degree in economics.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin, this will come as a surprise, also has a PhD. Foreign Affairs magazine reported last year that in 1989, “a 45-year-old Putin was busy defending his PhD thesis, The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations, at the St Petersburg Mining Institute. In it, he argued that Russian economic success would depend on creating national energy champions.”
Whatever else one may have thought of former US president George W. Bush, he was no yokel. He studied at Yale and then at Harvard. Bill Clinton before him was a Rhodes scholar to Oxford and Barack Obama was at Harvard.
This insistence on academic qualifications from top universities is not some form of vanity. It is an indicator, the strongest one and perhaps the only one, that the candidate has a fine and balanced mind. Manmohan Singh, our vacillating, indecisive prime minister, is more qualified than any of those above, as Obama himself acknowledges.

And let’s also be aware of the education of Indian Prime Ministers till date even though it is now asserted that education’s inconsequential…

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Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
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IELTS loses it’s monopoly as Australia to accept TOEFL and PTE for most visas. Interesting development at a time when UK and Ireland have stopped accepting TOEFL even for the student visas.

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Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
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My prayer for the new phase in my country… India has given a clear mandate in favour of Modi.

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Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Speaking at Australia-India Institute, Swapan Dasgupta explains why “Modi” is good for India and why I am wrong about him… Will remain a critic though!

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

With the possibility of a BJP led Government in India later this week, Australia needs to strategise considering RSS’s perspective on OZ, mouthed in 2010.

Public memory is short, Media moves on, Diplomats find ways to make the right noises, I somehow am still stuck in lessons from 2009-2010 with regards to India-Australia relationship.

“Australians are the “most atrocious and horrendous racists on this planet”.

This is what the RSS official spokesperson had opined on several media platforms in first weeks of January 2010 (see link). RSS’s political arm is BJP.

Just after the 2009 elections were over, 24×7 Media in India was desperately looking for an issue that could be hyped up in a manner that could help its TRP. Shiny Ahuja provided provided some “masala” but the one that TV channels (especially the one with Ornobh) found with greater potential was related to the “attacks on Indian students in Australia”. I clearly remember the birth of the hype in May of 2009 and the increased rhetoric that continued for several months. Let me state without any ambiguity that there was a need for greater preparedness on the part of Indian students travelling overseas and there was a need for some good and precise security related measures in Australia. However, largely, the non-premeditated attacks were instances of “mugging” or “drunken adventure” by some on some without any clear pattern that the attacks were by “white” Australian on “brown” Indians and there were also instances where the ones committing the attacks were of mixed origin including one major instance where the cctv evidenced one of “Indian origin” being involved. There might also have been some elements of racism but it was grossly exaggerated and to call the full nation of “migrants” as “racist” was a racism by itself.

While I hold the over-enthusiastic and un-occupied media space as primarily responsible for the chaos in the relationship between the two great democracies, some of the comments of political parties have stuck to my thoughts. Several Indian ministers travelled to Australia, Several Australian ministers travelled to India, Journalists from both countries wrote on each other more frequently and so in some ways, the understanding for each other went beyond the Cricket, Commonwealth and Curry.

I feel that the Indian Government played its role very well. The Indian High Commissioner in Canberra and the various Consul Generals around the country applied the right pressure on the Australian Government to address the security concerns. The statements from the “responsible” ministers were measured and I do think that it had the right balm-ing effect on the fragile relationship between the nations. While the External Affairs minister SM Krishna made several visits to Australia and met with all stake holders, he gave sufficient indications that India was happy with the measures being taken to address the issues. So did the Minister Vyalar Ravi conduct himself. The statesmanship of Indian ministers became quite evident when Australians noted with great appreciation, what the Minister for HRD (the department that looks after Education) stated in possibly the best summarisation of the situation… (excerpted from this linked article)

”The whole racism issue has really coloured this debate in an unhealthy way, because when our media either seizes on that, or the Australian media in turn respond critically, we are essentially dealing with not black or brown or white, but red herrings,” Mr Shashi Tharoor said.

”We value our relationship with Australia, it’s a friendly country … The truth is this is a problem of law and order, one that Australia is dealing with and needs to deal with internally. But it cannot but affect us when our citizens are reported to be suffering.”

I may add that India played its card very well diplomatically to leverage the negotiations on the Uranium supply issue and Indian PM Manmohan Singh’s skipping the CHOGM held in Australia, was a master-stroke. While no Indian PM may have visited Australia since Rajiv Gandhi, several senior ministers have. Rajiv Gandhi’s rapport with Bob Hawke and the fact that he even considered educating Rahul in Australia after he had to be pulled out of his school after the security concerns in India is note-worthy too.

What should we expect with the RSS backed BJP in future, if it assumes the leadership for the future tenure:

It is no secret that BJP’s cultural, educational and political agenda is directly or indirectly guided by the RSS philosophy. So be it. However, this is where I get really concerned when we are talking of the Indian-Australian relationship. While I was doing what I could in 2009-10 to settle the issues and also aiding the effort of Indian and Australian Governments, there was one voice on all TV channels that somehow harmed more than providing any solutions. This voice belonged to some ill-informed from within the BJP-RSS formation that of-course tried to give a flavour that what was happening in Australia was simply because of racism.

The spokesperson of the RSS who gave out the atrocious and irresponsible generalisation on Australia is considered quite knowledgeable within RSS-BJP and sits on several senior groups. His also now a spokesman of the BJP and his site introduces him as…

Tarun Vijay is a Bharatiya Janata Party member of the Rajya Sabha. He is a member of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on External Affairs; a member, Parliamentary Group on India China Friendship.

In addition to repeating on several TV channels and hence fuelling the misconception that Australians are the “most atrocious and horrendous racists on this planet” on several media platforms during that period, he continued on his blog

I haven’t seen anger or sincerity on the part of the governance or any political leader coming out strongly to teach these Aussies a lesson they will not forget. Why? There was an unfortunate Australian family killed in Orissa and the entire white world stood up in unison, even threatening severing of diplomatic ties. What happens now when an Indian, one of us, is killed by Australians? And Nitin Garg is not the first Indian to be attacked — he died without anyone helping him — and Indians in Australia believe the Australian government will do nothing to stop these attacks as racism is too deeply ingrained in their system. Indians are welcome as money providers to their educational industry but not as equally respected humans.

What comes first? Money or izzat — the self-pride? I would prefer sleeping half fed rather than losing my pride and freedom. Make money but with your spine intact is the mantra for any civil society’s progress.

BJP’s youth wing issued a press release which can be found on this link, where they have only attempted to one-way concern on the events.

I know that in recent times, Australian Government departments have made visits to Gujarat and have even invited Mr Modi to Australia. (see link). This is fine and a part of diplomacy. However, I do believe that Australia would need to do its bit to address the negative mindset that exists within RSS regarding Australia. Mr Modi’s entire education “in and outside the classroom” from an early age has been under the RSS. I hear that the Australian PM has also been involved with the Christian missions in India at some point in the past and has spent a several months in Bihar at that time in early 1990. I may also hence quickly add that RSS has a certain take on the Christian missionaries in India that led to the Staines murder in Orissa. Thus, when Tony Abbott visits India, which he must, he should refrain from discussing his earlier experiences. A careful strategization will hence be required especially now since the Indian-Australian relationship was very positive over the last decade and when Congress was in power in India.

One way forward will be to focus on “Trade” and “Indian Investments in Australia”. One such is of Adani who is now named as an industrialist “close” to the BJP leadership. (See the link on his recent inroads in Australia) I will not comment on my opinion of the way some of these Indian explorers (similar to Adani) operate as have observed two other Indian investments exploit Australian interests recently. (Oswal and Gujarat NRE)

I was intrigued to note that none of the “learned minds” on the Australia-India seem to be reading the Australia-specific context in the RSS-BJP “earlier opinion” on Australia. Australia like UK and USA is attempting to diplomatically find a mid-path. US may now have to issue Mr Modi a visa too. The concern of US and UK is more for the track-record of Modi in regard of the 2002 Gujarat riots. I believe that Australia need to do some more strategization as the issue here is pertaining to the opinion of RSS-BJP with reference to 2009-2010 issues. The matter is now buried and Indian student numbers in Australia are rising once again. However , the dialogue between the two countries will need to keep the political posturing of that period in mind and not to dwell on the “fact” that historically “since the Rajiv Gandhi era”, Australia and India have had the best rapport only when there was a Congress Government in Delhi.

Sharing some additional discussions below:

http://www.theage.com.au/comment/will-indias-modi-be-haunted-by-his-past-20140513-zrarh.html

http://www.latrobe.edu.au/news/articles/2014/opinion/india-2014-few-votes-in-foreign-policy

and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjqgLTXnJHo#t=259

 

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Understanding INDIAN STUDENTS…

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Source: http://www.scoopwhoop.com/inothernews/india-quotes/

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Forget about learning to code—to get rich in tech, become an accountant

Forget about learning to code—to get rich in tech, become an accountant

Ravi Lochan Singh:

IT vs Accounting/Finance…. seems like a verdict against coders…

Originally posted on Quartz:

David Ebersman did well as CFO of Genentech, regularly making more than $4 million per year at the biotech firm. But his next career move brought far greater riches.

When Facebook was in the market for a finance chief with “public company experience,” it turned to Ebersman (pictured above.) The CFO joined the privately held social network in 2009, led it through its blockbuster $16 billion IPO three years later, and, last week, announced that he was leaving the company at the end of next month. During his five-year stint at Facebook, Ebersman will have made more than $100 million in salary, bonus, and stock awards.

Coding whizzes may be the rockstars of the tech world, but accountants are often more consistent earners. This is particularly true for companies looking to go public, of which there are many at the moment. Founders of fast-growing firms typically come from a technology or marketing background…

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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Say NO to Bullying…

Say NO to Bullying.

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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

SAT is changing and effort is being made to cut out “test prep services” and let the regular schooling count more. SAT-Khan Academy tie-up could hopefully give similar ideas to IITs / IIMs and put an end to Kota type coaching factories in India that have stolen the school experiences from the students…

The SAT college exam will undergo sweeping changes on what’s tested, how it’s scored and how students can prepare, College Board President and CEO David Coleman has just announced.

CNN reports…

Standardized tests have become “far too disconnected from the work of our high schools,” Coleman said at an event in Austin, Texas. They’re too stressful for students, too filled with mystery and “tricks” to raise scores and aren’t necessarily creating more college-ready students, he said.

The SAT to be released in spring 2016 is designed to change that, he said.

The test will include three sections — evidence-based reading and writing, math and an optional essay — each retooled to stop students from simply filling a bubble on the test sheet.

“No longer will it be good enough to focus on tricks and trying to eliminate answer choices,” Coleman said. “We are not interested in students just picking an answer, but justifying their answers.”

You can read all about the changes to SAT on this linked article.

However what I found quite novel was related to the attempt being made to cut out the coaching factories as is indicated on this clip from the presentation.

Further the article details…

To prepare students for the test, the College Board will partner for the first time with Khan Academy to provide free test preparation materials, starting in spring 2015.

Partnering with the free, online resource is intended to make the SAT more transparent, and cut back on perceptions of inequality around expensive test preparation services, Coleman explained Wednesday.

“If there are no more secrets,” Coleman said, “it’s very hard to pay for them.”

Students’ classrooms are meant to be the best preparation for the redesigned SAT. The College Board’s Khan Academy tools will supplement that learning.

“It’s going to meet students where they are,” said Salman Khan, the Khan Academy creator. “We’ll take you as far back as you need to go or as far forward as you need to go.”

Khan emphasized that he is planning to challenge the existing test prep industry by offering high quality, easily accessible tools.

“This isn’t just a ‘Hey, since it’s free, it’s better than nothing,” he said. “Our intention in this partnership is this will be the best thing out there, and it happens to be free.”

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2014 in education, Education Reforms, Government of India, HRD

 

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