World of Ideas…

17 05 2009

I was recently reading an interview of Mr. Narayana Murty on Rediff and decided to write this post. Mr. Murthy, in his interview touches upon few key aspects of today’s living – Education (Why half of India’s Engineering Graduates are not getting employed) and Politics. In one line, I 100% agree to what Mr. Murty is saying about Politics and Government – That the Government should concentrate on providing basic education, primary healthcare and create a conducive environment for living and the remaining would fall in place as and when required.

The aspects I would want to touch upon a bit more in-detail is about education and HealthCare with my experiences and exposure.

Education

I will not go deep into the primary education sector, but touch upon what the readers of this blogpost have been through. To begin with, let us look at our syllabus. Even though we are one country, every state has its own course structure and mode of delivery. Why? Is this not creating a disparity in the intellectual learning of individuals?

I graduated in 1998 in Economics and Computer Applications. At that time, Andhra University was offering this course and I was in the second batch. I was very clear that I am going to be in the IT field and hence choose this course. Most (well, almost everyone) of my school classmates took up either engineering or medicine. Hardly one or two of my classmates are currently doing what they specialized in their Engineering. A person who has specialized in Civil Engineering, is now a Java Programmer and if I continue my examples, I have many more. Why? Is it because working with computers is more lucrative or provides opportunities to work/live/travel abroad? Well, I would need to narrow down to this reason if I look at the bigger picture.

What I am saying here is not that it is wrong or one cannot do that, but what I am only trying to say is that the Investment of time, money, resources is going waste for learning what we are not going to use in our career.

Our education approach has always been to just study and get good grades. One gets 90%, then the person is very intelligent and elite, but the student is not taught on how to implement what they are studying, rather they are just told how to implement. We have a proven algorithm and we use that to solve problems. Is this correct? What we need to learn is to understand and articulate problems. If the student questions or proposes a new way of solving a problem, he/she is the most discouraged – “Do what is said, do’t try to act smart” is what is the usual reply.

As part of my job, I take campus interviews for recruiting members to our teams. Many a times, when I ask a question out of the text book, I do not get an answer, instead I get to hear that it is not part of they syllabus or it is not discussed in class or they are not aware of it. I interview Engineers from Tire B/C Engineering colleges and many(not all the time) a times I get to hear only this answer. Why? This is because, the student is not provided an opportunity to go out of their way and research on understanding the concepts. Engineering colleges are becoming like schools where text books are provided and students are just made to learn and complete their exams. Engineering needs a technical bent of mind and out-of-the-box thinking, which I personally feel is missing in most of the engineering graduates (please do not take me offensive, this is just based on my interaction with people). There are very few (you can count on fingers) students who go out of their way and learn something more than what is actually taught in the class. Let me tell you, these are the killers. They aspire and achieve what they want.

HealthCare

Again, we are one country, but there is a huge disparity in HealthCare infrastructure. Let me quote one of my favorite examples here. Let us consider Uttar Pradesh, one of the biggest states in India and Kerala, one of the smaller states.

Few key statistics:

Population: UP (190 Million) & Kerala (31 Million)

Literacy: UP (57%) & Kerala (91%)

The number of registered primary/secondary and tertiary HealthCare centers in UP is between 900-1200 and the same in Kerala is around 2,500. What a disparity? Do the numbers match at all?

Well, this is what is missing today. Many private HealthCare facilities are being setup across the country, but end of the day, they are either in Tier 1 or Tier 2 cities, where only 30% of India’s population lives.

Close to 50% of Medical graduates, graduating in Indian Medical Colleges, are going out of the country for better infrastructure to learn and practice medicine. Money is not the only reason, but most frequently, we also hear that the infrastructure does not provide opportunity for them to learn and practice. Where are we going wrong?

My above thoughts are mostly generalized. What we need today is out-of-box thinking in providing solutions to the problems.

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Is Recession Real?

26 02 2009

Well, many people asked this question and many people responded with what they thought. I am not a financial expert nor an Economist who can answer this question. But, I have been in the Industry for close to 10 Years now and have friends who have been in the Industry for longer than me and also many of my close friends have their own startup’s. This post comes with my interactions with them and also what I have been seeing in the Industry I work. 

During 2001-2003, we saw the Internet bubble burst. There were many people who sacrificed their lives, given up their line of work and moved to the IT field to make their name and fame. There were many organizations born, but eventually, most of them faded away. Let us also not forget, that organizations which had their fundamentals correct, grew up to be giants in their own fields. 

So, are we seeing the same phenomenon here today? The only similarity I see from my eyes in the two recessions is that they are man made. We have been hungry for more in a shorter span of time and this has really effected us. If this is human’s thought process, we should never forget that the nature also has its own ways of sustaining itself. This is a natural cycle and if the 2001-2003 recession helped in streamlining the speed at which we travelled in making a new world, this recession is setting expectations for us to ensure we have our fundamentals correct for a better future. 

Fortunately, most of my very good friends organizations have not been disastrously hit by this current situation and also quite a few of reputed organizations are also not hit. Organizations which have been disturbed are the one’s which missed out one or two of the key elements of ensuring the life of the organization works the way it should. 

What are the fundamentals which I am talking about? 

The fundamentals I am speaking apply to both individual and also the organization. The fundamentals which each of us should be aware of. The precautions we take to ensure we have a healthy living (not money, but health). Eat good food, have healthy habits, keep your mind calm and peaceful and ensure that you perform your responsibilities well. The same applies to even organizations. They have life too. 

I once received a forwarded email about Recession and it made a lot of sense to me. I just wanted to summarize the story here as an illustration of the concept. 

There was a poor man, who made eateries on the roadside. He worked very hard, to ensure he maintained cleanliness around the place he ran his business, he had few chairs for his customers to sit, clean drinking water and his USP was that he always ensured that he was presentable and welcomed his customers with a big smile. He did this for all the last 15 years since he started his small outlet. He was contended with his earning, and ensured that his customers left with a smile.  

This businessman had a son and ensured he provided the best of the education to him, with what he could earn. His son went on to study well and acquired a very decent and dignified job for himself.  One day, his son stopped over at their eatery and was explaining the current situation to his father. How people are loosing jobs, how banks are going bankrupt and how access to money was getting difficult day-by-day. With this, the poor father began to think. Over the period of time, he reduced his expenses. He was getting the place cleaned once in two days instead of every day. He stopped buying fresh water every time, but instead managed by mixing tap water to the water he bought. With various thoughts and tensions in his mind, his smile went away, he cared less about his presentability.

Over the period of time, his customers stopped coming and his business went gloomy. He told his son that he was absolutely correct and the economy is really very bad. Their business has come down heavily and tomorrow does not look bright. 

What is the morale of the story? It is actually not a story, but REALITY. The reality is that we are more worried and hence our productivity is reducing. What would have happened if his son never studied and helped his father? I am sure their business would be the same and their lives would have definitely been the same. At times, too much of thought also hits our overall productivity. 

Let us stop worrying about recession and concentrate on our work. Organizations should do what they need to do and individuals need to do what they need to do. I am sure, our tomorrow is more bright.

In my next post, I would share about my experiences with the industry and entrepreneur friends who are definitely working at the same pace and ensuring they get their business 🙂