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MBA, Engg Losing Their Sheen? 36 >>>

September 2011

Rs 30 $5

Promises, Problems and Possibilities of

India will Miss the Opportunity Unless it Opens Up the Sector

Mohandas Pai

On the cusp of a new era of acceptance and recognition, nations are realising the importance of distance education

Australia Poised for Global Edu Leadership Prof Gareth Evans Chancellor, ANU

Industry’s Involvement should be Enhanced Shyam Srinivasan


Volume 1 Issue 5 | Sept 15 to Oct 15 2011 Editor Prof James Joseph Consulting Editor Padmabhushan Emeritus Prof Dr M V Pylee Managing Editor Tom B Mannapurathu Chief Executive Officer Jettin J Manuel Associate Editor T N Shaji Features Editor James Paul Sr. Sub Editors Celine George Ziad P S Reporters Lakshmi Narayanan B Sreenath Design Kailasnath BUSINESS Head - Business M Kumar Senior Key Account Managers Rohil Kumar A B, Ph: 09844001625 Anu P M, Ph: 09847903598 Business Office - India Bengaluru: ED TODAY MEDIA Opp. Mount Carmel College Palace Road, Vasanthnagar Bengaluru – 560052 Business Office - International UK: ED TODAY MEDIA 145 - 157, St. John Street London, EC1V 4PY Editorial Office Cochin: ED TODAY MEDIA Civil Lines Road, Padivattom Cochin – 24 Published from ShadWell Avenue, Civil Lines Road, Padivattom, Cochin – 692024 and printed at S.T. Reddiar & Sons (EKM), Veekshanam Road, Cochin – 35. Printed, published & owned by Tom Baby

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Tremendous scope for distance learning


his issue, our cover story is focusing on the topic of distance education; its prospects and opportunities.With distance education, students can complete their course work from anywhere, provided there’s a computer and internet connection. This allows students to work when and where it is more convenient for them. Taking a course online can be one way to cut down on public transportation. Since students can often work from home to complete their class assignments, both time and money are saved in cutting out the trips to and from the class. Prices for online courses are generally cheaper than their on-campus counterparts and students won’t have to worry about commuting, moving or getting meal plans on campus. As distance learning can usually be completed on one’s own schedule, it is much easier to complete distance learning courses while working than more traditional educational programmes. Prof V N Rajasekharan Pillai, Vice-Chancellor of IGNOU, told Asian Educator that the main objective of the university is reformation of society. “The school drop-outs and underprivileged class need a helping hand for value addition and survival”, he said. The university now offers 338 programmes of study through over 3,500 courses to cumulative student strength of over 30 lakh. There is a perception that the quality of distance education is very poor. In an interview with AE, Prof N S Ramesh Murthy, Director, Sikkim Manipal University, allayed this apprehension. According to him, distance learning is a boon to aspiring students. Keeping in mind the significance of the subject, AE gives wide coverage of the myth and realities of distance education. Shyam Srinivasan, MD of Federal Bank, has made some crucial remarks about the employability concerns in education. He said that the theory-oriented education system in India has to be changed drastically. We also present the multifaceted excellence of P C Thomas, who is a significant contributor to the education system in India. Prof Gareth Evans, Chancellor of Australian National University, is elaborating on the vast educational opportunities in Australia. We have the report about the losing ground of MBA/Engg courses. The story sheds light on some core issues in this regard. Our regular columns are there to enlighten our valued readers. We reiterate our commitment to bringing out significant topics comprehensively in the coming editions.



Cover Story

Distance Learning Distance education is a cost-effective option and can reach out to larger numbers without major constraints of time and place. On the cusp of a new era of acceptance and recognition, nations are realising the importance of distance education. Distance Education is the future of how education is going to be delivered in India.


42 Mohandas Pai

India will Miss the Opportunity Unless it Opens up the Sector The Government should open up the system and the system should allow expansion of good institutions. The Government should also liberally pump in funds for research.

Prof N S Ramesh Murthy on the Future Prospects and Role of PPPs in DL India’s enrolment figures in higher education highlighting that public-private partnerships are critical for wooing investment in India’s higher education system.


Shyam Srinivasan Industry’s Involvement in the Edu Sector should be Enhanced There is a fair amount of theory that everybody is good at. Unfortunately, the learning process in India is theory-oriented. The educational system is not having enough practical experience.


ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011


Dr P C Thomas

The story of a successful edupreneur.

45 Columns 28 I Karthikeyan Iyer 48 I Dr Sreekumar Nellickappilly

Edu Events

Industry Growing Big The educational events industry is growing in a big way in many countries facilitating the meeting of educational course seekers at different levels.

58 I Rajeshwari Victor 66 I Sajeev Nair


Prof Gareth Evans

on Australia’s Edu Vision Commitment to excellence is an often-used catch phrase, but it is a guiding principle and a reality across Australian universities - and a crucial reason why education has become our third-largest export industry.

54 Dileep Jose An Entrepreneur with Extraordinary Abilities His entrepreneurial capability and the experience he has acquired through relentless effort have made him a man of business on a par with an IIM graduate.

ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

36 Special Story MBA, Engg Losing Their Sheen? Parents as well as students believe it is futile spending much money and effort. Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh is required for MBA study while engineering demands nearly Rs 4 lakh.


NEWS PICS IITs seek corporate funding MUMBAI: The Indian Institutes of Technologies are looking towards big corporate firms for funding their research projects. The shift comes as IITs want to decrease their dependence on government research grants. Talking about the shift, Professor Rangan Banerjee, Dean of R&D at IIT Mumbai said, “Although our research is funded predominantly by the government, the funds from the industry are growing much faster and we are focusing on that. We want to have a broader linkage with the industry.” The research fund at IIT-Delhi has increased to Rs 180 crore from Rs 100 crore last year out of which only Rs 22 crore came from the private industry. In comparison with the universities abroad, the R&D work done in India may not fare well but there have been significant improvement.

Singapore sets education as top priority SINGAPORE: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said putting education as one of the top national priorities has given the country a vital competitive advantage. The Prime minister said the government would continue to improve the education system and “raise the quality of every school”. “Whether they are neighbourhood schools, vocational institutes or schools with students with special needs -- we will create many more pathways to success, not just a single, narrow road to the top,” Lee said.


Sri Lanka to revamp education sector COLOMBO: The Education Ministry of Sri Lanka is to present a new Education Bill to parliament by the end of the year with the aim of implementing it by next year. Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena has said this is the first time that the education system is being reviewed with far reaching reforms based on the proposals submitted by the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Education Reforms.

Godrej Manipal University’s new Properties ties up with GIIS Dubai campus DUBAI: Manipal University will move to the institution’s new 750,000 square foot campus in Dubai. The new campus comes with a large library, reading hall, indoor and outdoor sports arena, food court and WIFI coverage. In the second phase of development of the campus, the university will offer an in-campus hostel facility along with other amenities. Manipal currently has 1,500 students but the capacity to admit more students has increased with the new campus. The new campus will allow growth in new programmes and the university plans to offer a medical degree in the future.

MUMBAI: Godrej Properties, the realty development arm of the Godrej Group, has tiedup with Global Indian International School (GIIS) for setting up an education facility at its Ahmadabad township project Godrej Garden City, the company said. Godrej Properties will construct an independent building comprising of a total built up area of around 100,000 sq ft to house this education facility. Apart from the school building, it will also develop playground, landscaping and other facilities including parking for school buses. Singapore-based Global Indian International School is part of a network of international schools across the world.

Philippine varsities vow higher standards MANILA: Two Philippine universities vowed to push for higher academic standards while maintaining good practices already in place in their schools as world university rankings showed a slump in Philippine standings this year. The Ateneo de Manila University and the De La Salle University, both private institutions, also noted the importance of international rankings in giving schools indicators on which to improve. ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Korea turning into education hub SEOUL: To solve the problems associated with sending young students overseas for early education and meet the needs of parents and students, Jeju, the southern-most island of Korea, is turning into the education hub of North Asia. The Korean government is building Jeju Global Education City on Jeju Island to offer the opportunity for better English education to middle-class families and absorb the demand for overseas language courses. The goal is to provide a world-class quality education to students in a unique, immersive environment. In Jeju Global Education City, English will be the only language spoken at public offices, shopping centers and parks. It will include a settlement-type English-speaking town, which will be equipped with residences, commerce, leisure and convenience functions, as well as educational facilities.

NEWS PICS Education to get $55bn boost in US NEW YORK: Within President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill he announced in an address to a joint session of Congress, some $55 billion would go directly to K-12 educators and renovations to 35,000 schools. Among the direct jobs spending the President called for, $30 billion would be spent on retaining 280,000 teachers as a counter-cyclical measure to wait out the sluggish economy.

More investments in China’s rural education

New learning programme in Vietnam HANOI: Several organisations in Vietnam supported by UNESCO will launch for the first time a ‘Week for Lifelong Learning’ programme in October, to promote and encourage literacy in the country.The programme is being co-organised by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training, the Vietnam Study Encouragement Association, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and UNESCO Vietnam. The programmes aims at encouraging people to adopt a lifetime practice of learning in order to improve society. ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

BEIJING: Premier Wen Jiabao promised to provide nutritious food for students in the country’s poverty-stricken central and western areas as part of the government’s increased investment in rural education. The premier made the promise in a speech delivered to more than 1,000 teachers at a middle school in north China’s Hebei Province late last month. “The country will secure funds to create nutrition subsidies for primary and middle school students in poverty-stricken central and western areas, allowing these children to eat their fill and eat well,” he said. His promise was warmly welcomed by the public, making headlines on major news websites in China.

Australia’s education tourism loses its shine SYDNEY: Recent data shows that education is Australia’s biggest-earning tourist attraction, with short-term education visitors -- those here primarily to learn -- outspending traditional holidaymakers by almost $750 million in the last financial year. Australia’s fastest-growing and most valuable international tourism market, China, is particularly dependent on education, with 68 per cent of the $2.8bn expenditure from education visitors. But the Tourism and Transport Forum says stagnant numbers could signal the start of a downturn, with shortterm education about to experience the alarming declines seen among longer-term international students.


NEWS IN BRIEF Experts moot skill-based education in India NEW DELHI: India might have supplied skilled workforce globally, but lack of skill-based and quality education is one of the major problems plaguing the Indian education system today, said experts at a seminar. At least 25 per cent of the engineers graduating every year remain unemployable, pointed out many experts present at the seminar, which was organised by the Institute of Management Technology to mark the 13th anniversary of Education Times. Dr Nalin Jena, senior education specialist at the World Bank, shared figures that showed India’s economic growth has been “job-poor”. According to the data, from 1983 to 2004, the GDP growth rate averaged 6 per cent per year.”But the job growth was only 2 per cent, that too mostly in the service and unorganised sectors and in micro, small and medium enterprises,” said Jena. Dr Arun Mohan Sherry, director & chairman of the joint admission committee at the IMT-Centre for Distance Learning, echoed Jena’s views. “India ranks third in the output of graduates after the US and China but in terms of quality, we still lag behind”, he said. The seminar brought together experts from across the education sector, who deliberated on diversifying the learning needs for the next generation and providing them with skills to make them industry-ready. Skill-based and quality education is also essential to improve the gross enrolment ratio (GER) of the youth, most of them pointed out. “Unless formal education is linked with skill development, the relevance of the subject will not be understood. There is an urgent need to focus on skill development in higher education,” said Rajshekharan Pillai, vice-chancellor of IGNOU. There was enthusiastic participation from students present at the seminar. The experts also dwelt on the extent of use of technology in modern-day education. Abha Sahgal, principal of Sanskriti School, stressed that technology is an enabler, but it cannot replace a real classroom. The other prominent speakers at the seminar were Manish Sabharwal, member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Skills Development; Dr Dilip K Bandopadhyay, vicechancellor of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University; and M Sajid, registrar, Jamia Millia Islamia.

Enrolment in Dubai’s private varsities rises

Sindh govt to make Chinese learning compulsory from 2013 KARACHI: The Sindh government decided to start teaching of Chinese-language as a compulsory subject from class six in all government schools from the year 2013. The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah at his Secretariat. Senior Minister for Education Pir Mazharul Haq, the president’s Secretary Salman Farooqui, Provincial Education Secretary Muhammad Siddique Memon and other senior officials of the education department were also present. The meeting decided to give incentives through awarding scholarships for higher education, extra marks and opportunities in foreign visits for education and skill trainings in foreign countries for those students who would pass Chinese subjects till matriculation and higher classes. The meeting further decided that learning of Chinese-language would also be made compulsory in the Cadet College, Petaro, from class six and above.

DUBAI: Private universities in Dubai and Sharjah have reported an overall increase in their undergraduate student enrolment numbers at the start of the new 2011-12 academic year. The Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) Education cluster of Tecom Investments has reported an approximate increase of 15 per cent on total student numbers. This brings DIAC’s student numbers up to 21,000, up from last year’s 18,000. However, the final figures will only be finalised at the end of the enrolment process for the 2011-12 academic year.


ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011


Dr B S Krishnan

Most Managements Handle Education in a Pathetic Way


ill a decade ago, the name B S Krishnan was familiar to the people as a senior professional lawyer, a man who could distinguish morality from immorality and justice from injustice. His thoughts and actions veered around social and ethical values of society. Being wellrespected and one who aware of society’s needs, he slowly turned to higher education. He believes that quality higher education which creates worthy citizens. His adherence to justice even as he focused on education made him the Managing Trustee of Adi Sankara Institute of Engineering and Technology and Managing Director of Sree Sankara College. For providing good quality education, the management and the administrative department of an institution should be efficient and should not be nursing any kind of vested interests. Their only vision should be ‘academic excellence’. But it is hard to find such independent institutions among the mushrooming self-financing educational institutions of the present era. Dr Krishnan thinks that most of the managements are managing education in a pathetic way. In a recent interaction with Asian Educator, Dr Krishnan shared his thoughts and anxieties about the present system and suggested what action should be taken to improve the quality of management and education in India. Excerpts: How do quality of management and administration reflect in the education sector?


Quality of management and quality of education are interdependent. The aim of the management should be ‘academic excellence’ but in fact, a number of managements divert from this focus. When managements focus on generating income, education becomes a business. Unfortunately, our education sector is suffering on account of most managements being without much quality. Many of the technical institutions are functioning without proper facilities. We have to change this situation in order to establish a branded and eminent Indian education. No technical institutions can function without having facilities that are stipulated by AICTE. So how can you say that some such institutions are run without adequate facilities? AICTE demands only basic infrastructure and such other technical facilities. When the number of students increases, management should have to raise facilities too. But that doesn’t happen. I find that there is no further addition to the facilities even when the number of students goes up. The institution is being unjust to the students as inadequate facilities stand in the way of students building up a challenging career. The AICTE criteria are not a proper way to measure the quality of an institution. Every technical college is required to have MTech qualified faculty, but the number of MTech seats approved by the AICTE is very few. So the AICTE criteria have become unworkable in some aspects. It should modify the present rules.

How does improper management affect students? The problem is primarily associated with admissions. Some managements provide admissions to under qualified students on some special considerations. A majority of those admitted in such a manner will fail in exams and not complete the course. The NRI quotas in many institutions are filled in an improper way. All these things are happening due to mismanagement. Because of this approach, a number of talented students fail to avail higher education, and undeserving ones struggle after education. It will be a black mark on the Indian education sector and will diminish its credibility. What according to you would be effective and good management? Managing the education sector is a serious thing. The management should be independent. Admissions should be given on the basis of students’ proficiency as well as performance in competitive exams. Excellence in academics should be the motto of managements which the students should find friendly and approachable. The number of students passing out and campus recruitments shape the quality of management. Only with challenging education, we can lead our country to prosperity. So it is the responsibility of the managements to build up educated and worthy young citizens.


IIE selects 11 US colleges and varsities for partnership with India NEW YORK: The Institute of International Education (IIE) has announced that it has selected eleven US colleges and universities to participate in the 2012 India initiative of the International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP). Over the next year, program staff at each of these institutions will participate in a series of training activities arranged by IIE to help them implement and sustain partnerships with institutions in India, culminating with a study tour to India in early 2012 to meet with potential partner campuses. The eleven US campuses are: Fort Hays State University, George Mason University, Northern Illinois University, Queens College (City University of New York), Rollins College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Suffolk University, Thomas College, University of Kentucky, University of Oregon and University of Montana. An IIE review panel chose these US colleges and universities based on successful applications that outlined their strong interest in building ties with institutions in India and their need for the assistance that IAPP provides. IIE’s Center for International Partnerships in Higher Education runs the IAPP program, which was established in 2009 with funding from the Department of Education to help increase the number of partnerships between institutions of higher education in the US and India. Each institution has made a commitment to form a campus-wide task force to work on prospective partnerships, conduct an institution-wide inventory of activities pertaining to India and develop a strategic plan focused on partnership with India. Partnership activities may include joint programs, student exchanges or faculty linkages for collaborative research and teaching. IIE’s goal in creating the IAPP program of webinars, workshops and site visits is to establish a toolkit of best practices for international partnerships in ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

different parts of the world, that would be widely disseminated and helpful to other campuses seeking to establish linkages. “Higher education is an important area of the strategic partnership between the United States and India because of its impact on fostering collaboration on critical issues that we face today,” said IIE President Allan E. Goodman. “This new phase of the International Academic Partnership Program and the strong group of campuses will strengthen the educational ties between our two nations and pave the way for students from both countries to gain important international perspective. We aim to support the Obama-Singh goal to advance the US-India global partnership for the benefit of their countries, for peace, stability and prosperity in Asia, and for the betterment of the world.” The partnership program was launched with an initial two-year grant from the US Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). The goal of this FIPSE grant was to help jumpstart an academic partnership program in higher education between the US and other countries that would grow into a self-sustaining program. Now in its third year, the partnership program continues to thrive, using a feebased model. The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, not-for-profit organisation founded in 1919, IIE has network of 18 offices worldwide and over 1,000 member institutions.

Manmohan seeks more private funding in R&D NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (pictured) has suggested increasing private sector funding in Research and Development to 50 per cent from the current 20 per cent. The suggestion was made during a review meeting of eight ministries related to scientific research. The meeting was attended by representatives from science and technology, space, atomic energy, earth sciences, biotechnology and defence production ministries. The Prime Minister said that India’s share in scientific literature published in international journals should be increased to 10 per cent in the next Plan. The research and development sector is increasingly becoming business-funded in developed countries.



Novelist among Journalists A dedicated journalist with powerful analytical thinking, Manu Joseph in his OPEN magazine covers all the major issues and seems to be a good critic in the world of news. He is regarded as the novelist among journalists and the journalist among novelists. l

Lakshmi Narayanan


he Indian subcontinent is a place literally accepted worldwide for its ‘monstrous representation’ in global literature. Many Indian authors have marked their own identity with their magnificent works. Many are the international honours—Nobel, Booker, Pulitzer and other prizes—which have been brought to Indian soil by our writers who have done the country proud. The latest to join the bandwagon is Manu Joseph, a Keralite brought up in the country’s financial capital, Mumbai. He entered the world of literature with his now-famous novel Serious Men. The 2010 work, Manu’s first, has bagged many prestigious prizes, including the 2010 Hindu Best Fiction Award and Man Asian Literary Prize. He was also shortlisted for Society magazine’s Young Achiever Award. In a website survey among Indian journalists, he was voted ‘The Most Stylish Writer’. He was also selected by the British Government as one among the 12 expert international journalists to shape opinions for the country’s future administration. Besides being a writer; Manu is an adroit journalist by profession working as the Editor-in-Chief of OPEN magazine and was earlier associated with The Times of India, as Features Editor. He had also taken part in various online


publications, which have huge fans and readership the world over. Writings in Conde Nast’s and UK Independent has given him international acceptance in the field of journalistic writing. The UK’s Daily Telegraph magazine honoured him as ‘One of the Top New Novelists of 2010’... Serious Men shows a blend of his experience as a journalist with a temper of fiction. “Manu Joseph is an example of a roster of Indian writers who are creating fine literary art from their country’s fearsome contradictions,” says Peter Carty of the UK Independent. A dedicated journalist with powerful analytical thinking, Manu in his OPEN magazine covers all the major issues and seems to be a good critic in the world of news. He is regarded as the novelist among journalists and the journalist among novelists. He presently lives in Delhi and is actively involved in the profession of creative journalism. The entire literary world and the legion of his readers around the world look forward to more novels and writings from Manu that will bring more international acclaim to Indian literature.

YOUNG ACHIEVERS Music+Wealth=Justin Beiber


he name Justin Bieber may be familiar to social network users. According to data produced by The New York Times, Justin Bieber is more influential in the social networking sphere than Barack Obama or the Dalai Lama. Justin Drew Bieber is a Canadian pop singer of 17 years old. His music and rhythm spread across the world in a very short span of time. Bieber entered the world of music at the age of 12 with a local singing competition in Stratford. By 2007, he used to upload his music videos in YouTube. That was the turning point in his career. Scooter Braun, a former marketing executive of So So Def music band, found him in YouTube while searching for a different voice. Soon after the music tie-up with Braun, Justin

released hit music videos like My World, Baby, Justin Bieber Never Say Never etc by 2010. That was only the beginning. Thereafter young Bieber was nominated for certain awards like Artist of the Year 2010, American Music Award, Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album, 53rd Grammy Award etc. Being a master of the piano, drums, guitar and trumpet, Bieber is considered to be the teen idol by his fans all over the world. Now he is one of the richest men in the world, that too at 17!

Master of Strings


egendary sitar player Ravi Shankar has presented an invaluable gift to the world of music: Anoushka Shankar, his daughter. Ravi Shankar himself trained Anoushka to master the strings of the sitar. Born in London, Anoushka spent her childhood there and in Delhi. Her great passion for music made her a graduate in it. She made her debut at the age of 13 and released her debut album Anoushka at the age of 17. The album brought her international fame. Soon she became both a performer and a composer, exploring fertile ground in the crossover between Indian music and a variety of genres including electronic jazz, flamenco and Western classical music. By winning the Grammy Award in 2003 for her third album Live at Carnegie Hall, she became the youngest-ever and first woman nominee in the World Music category for the Grammy. The year 2005 also saw her winning another Grammy Award in the Best Contemporary Music category. Anoushka has also marked her appearance in acting and writing. She has written her father’s biography, Bapi: the Love of My Life. Besides the Grammy and British House of Commons Shield, she has bagged several other international awards. She has been named one of the 20 Asian Heroes by the Asia edition of Time. Over the years, she has established a growing international reputation as a classical sitarist, giving as many as 80 concerts a year all over the world. In association with acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell and flautist Jean Pierre Rampal, she is exploring Western music. “I love getting to explore different avenues in music, I see all these as ways for me to keep growing and remain really fresh,” says Anoushka.

ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

When the TIGER Roars


ravind Adiga is an international celebrity from the field of Indian literature. He was absolutely a new face till the publication of the work The White Tiger, his debut work. Surprisingly it bagged the Man Booker Prize. Beginning his career as a financial journalist with the Financial Times, the Indo-Australian writer had a deep passion for literature. He is the fourth Indianborn author to win the Booker Prize, after Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai. After The White Tiger, he has written many short stories, and two novels, Between the Assassinations and Last Man in Tower. Within a short time, Adiga has carved a niche among Indian writers in English with a variety of topics.


VOICES In some parts of the country, there isn’t a choice of good schools that’s why people break the bank to send their children private. David Cameroon , British Prime Minister Vocational education is an industry in its early stage. It needs joint efforts of Government, education providers and industry to create a scalable platform which can deliver the skilled manpower required across various sectors. Sharad Talwar, CEO, IndiaCan, a joint venture between Educomp and Pearson

Excellence in education can only be achieved when education standards are elevated in our institutions. We have to strive for excellence in terms of research, curriculum and academic-industry collaboration. Dr Akshai Aggarwal, Vice-Chancellor, Gujarat Technological University

Ask me my three main priorities for government, and I tell you: education, education, education. Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Britain Education is never absolute. There is always a scope for improvement. We should put emphasis on capacity building for teachers, improving language skills, preparing students to be ready for the work place etc. Preeti D’Mello, Regional Director (Indian Subcontinent) Edexcel

This dismal picture of elementary education’s quality and outcomes contrasts sharply with the achievement of near universal access and the landmark legislation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act. Hamid Ansari, Vice-President of India The combination of quality content, broad access, and affordable infrastructure— complemented with the most appropriate technology to author, distribute, teach, and connect—helps in building skills in the realm of education. Irina Ghose, Director – Education, Microsoft India


Universities are meant to impart knowledge and to help students to put this in their chosen profession and life in general. The two however do converge in that industries must learn to enhance ‘bottom lines’ in ways that are ethically, socially, politically and environmentally wholesome. Prof Siddiq Wahid, former VC, IUST Jammu & Kashmir

Education is an easy thing to campaign around; easy thing to get support around and you can’t really build the country unless you invest in children. Urmila Sarkar, Education Chief, UNICEF

ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Dr P C Thomas

Dr P C Thomas

He is a Shepherd, of course a good one, of a monastery of education called Good Shepherd International School in Ooty, Tamil Nadu. Generous to the poor, munificent to the destitute, a ‘principled’ principal loyal to diverse cultures and an admirer of faith - the multifaceted Dr P C Thomas is a visionary par excellence A man of courage, Dr Thomas succeeded in overcoming all obstacles in the way of imparting international education. Yes, Good Shepherd International School is the result of a long vision he had entertained always. Situated in the spectacular surroundings in a cool and calm atmosphere, the school reminds one of an old monastery of Medieval Ages.

Ziad P S


orn to Chacko and Thressiamma on October 15, 1943, at Ettumannoor in Kottayam District, Thomas did his schooling at St. Aloysius Higher School, Kottayam. In 1959 he joined the pre-university course (PUC) in a prestigious College ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

in Kozhikode. He had a keen desire for teaching since his school days. Dr Thomas had fixed the interaction with Asian Educator on a Sunday, officially a day off for anybody. But his, staff were seen working. What was more pleasant was that Dr Thomas,


known for his punctuality, came with his wife Elsamma exactly at the appointed time. The interview starts with AE asking him to disclose something that he has never revealed to anyone. Surprisingly he invites AE to come to see his shelves of the table and cupboards kept in the room. “You see, there is nothing to conceal and disclose. Everything is open here including me. Anybody can come to me at any time as the door is always open. I never enclose or write something as ‘confidential’ because throughout my 42-year career this openness has helped me to establish contacts with people. My wife has sometimes expressed concern about this openness. She also cautions me against keeping any valuables in the open shelves and possible theft. I mildly brush her fears aside, because I am safe in the hands of God” Even as a school student, Thomas, very studious, was concerned about the prevailing education system in India. And he used to share his concern with fellow students. From early on, he had a vision of a system of education. It was because of this that; he wanted to choose teaching as a profession. “Whenever I told my friends about my desire to become a teacher, they used to laugh and mock at me. For them, teaching was not a lucrative profession. Moreover I used to score very good marks, which could help me pursue Engineering or Medical courses. But I was firm about my conviction and took it as a challenge,” says Dr Thomas. “I joined the St. Joseph’s College, Calicut for my PUC because one of my brothers was working there. I was keenly interested in English literature and wished to take English for my degree. Unfortunately, I was not able to apply for it in time and ended up choosing Science since I had just then lost my dear mother. But my liking for English literature made me join MA English after graduation.”


School in Ooty. Wherever he went to work, he retained his dream of starting/ launching an institution of his own. In 1977, he started the institution, then known as Good Shepherd Public School in Mowbray House. The school was a milestone in his life. However, it was a small set-up with 54 students. Still it earned a lot of goodwill and appreciation from

“Father Kuncheria of Loyola Public School, Thiruvanthapuram, a family acquaintance and a regular visitor to us, enquired about my future plans. As I revealed my desire (to become a teacher), he asked me to accompany him. He was the Principal then and he offered me a teacher’s job there. I was delighted and left with him on the same day”. Dr Thomas had no teaching experience and was nervous initially. However, Fr Kuncheria gave the necessary courage and soon he excelled in his job. After serving there for a year from January 1969 to March 1970,

“I then heard of the likely sale of Baroda Palace, Ooty, the summer palace of the King of Baroda. I directly approached him and told him of my plan. Though he readily agreed to sell the place to me the biggest problem was money of which I did not have enough. I sold some ancestral properties back home but that too was inadequate DrThomas left the school when Fr Kuncheria was transferred; he joined the Sainik School in Bijapur, Karnataka. “It was during my days there that I married Elsamma, daughter of famous Malayalam film actor Jose Prakash. I was with the Sainik School for three years. Learning about the vacancy of the head of the Cordite Factory Memorial School near Coonoor, I applied there and was appointed.” It was the beginning of a long and successful journey in his career. After one year of heading the school, he moved to Breeks Memorial



people all over. In 1978, there was information that the Summer Palace of the Maharaja of Baroda was for sale. He approached the Maharaja through Mr. M.A. Chidambaram, a leading Industrialist of the country. The Baroda Palace was acquired and after renovation, it was converted in to the campus of the school in January 1979 with 350 students. This phenomenal growth was possible only because of the high reputation the school was able to achieve in the first two years of 1977 and 1978. Dr Thomas knew that a residential school would not be successful unless the students considered it their home and the teachers their parents. It was here that Elsamma made her contribution. The couple cultivated a parental relationship with the students and merged this into the school’s culture. She looks after the pupils like her own children. The idea of an international syllabus occurred to him during a visit to the office of the International Baccalaureate in Geneva in 1982. Similar way, the idea of IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) occurred to him when he spent a day in the Cambridge University, London. In fact, the thesis for his Ph.D. is based on the educational systems existing in various countries. This has helped him to bring the best systems practiced all over the world. The school is known for its ‘internationalism’ and individual attention to each student ensuring excellence in academics and all round development of personality. At present the school follows the following three streams of academic programme: • The Indian Certificate of Secondary

ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Education (ICSE) and the Indian School Certificate (ISC) of the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations - Classes 10 and 12 • The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) of the Cambridge International Examinations - ‘O’ Level • The International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB) of the International Baccalaureate Organisation - only IB1 and IB2 Thus, giving the students a good choice between the national and international syllabus. The school has undergone several changes since its inception, all because of the relentless efforts of Dr Thomas. “We have here many activities, some compulsory for all the students, such as swimming, for which there is a highclass heated pool, sports including golf, squash, hokey, cricket and football, band, instrumental music, dance and drawing and even horse-riding. The school also facilitates adventure activities like mountaineering, equestrian events and rifle shooting. All these are meant to ensure the holistic growth of the students and make them internationally accepted. Once they leave, they are the best wherever they are placed. Besides, the school provides Career Guidance and Counselling, a well-equipped library, audiovisual theatres, highly advanced computer labs and language laboratories. Students weak in any subject are given special attention. It has a 24hour hospital and an ICU with the most modern equipment and two resident Doctors. ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

The campus is housed in an area of 150 acres of land. Besides, the school has got a Farm of nearly 65 acres in Gudalur where all the vegetables needed for the school are being organically grown. There are dairy and poultry farms and a bakery. “All these happened spontaneously. Nothing was planned except my vision on education. Everything is providential” says Dr Thomas. His future vision is to convert the campus into one of the best ‘Knowledge Villages’ in the world. “In the next five years, the face of this

The campus is housed in an area of 150 acres of land. Besides, the school has nearly 65 acres in Gudalloor where all the vegetables needed for the school canteen are being organically grown. There are dairy and poultry farms and a bakery


campus will change. As part of the ‘Knowledge Village’, there will be a special campus and finishing school campus for girls. Our slogan is ‘Give us a girl, take home a lady’ for empowering

Dr Thomas is the recipient of many educational awards, including the A C Muthiah Award for First Generation Entrepreneurship in October, 2010; Arch of Europe Goldstar Award (conferred on the school by Imagen Arte, based in Madrid, Spain) in March 1990; Vikas Ratna Award for enriching human life and for outstanding attainments by the International Friendship Society of India; and the Shield of Merit for Educational Excellence by the Special Executive Magistrates’ Committee, Mumbai. The family of Dr Thomas has formed a Charitable Trust, ‘Dr P C Thomas Foundation’. He has also been a Rotarian at heart since 1977, a past District 3200 Governor, Rotary International Director of Zone 5 and 6 (2001-2003) and has served in numerous RI task forces and committees and as RI President’s representative on several international and Indian district conferences. He was a member of the Asia Regional Task Force for Functional Literacy in 1991-92, of the Polio Plus Task Force and the Literacy Promotion Task Force in 1993-94 and the RI Re-districting Committee in 1994-95, Moderator at international conventions, representative of District 3200 at the Council on Legislation in January 1998, member of the Nominating Committee for RI Director in 1992-94 and 1995-97, Training Leader at the International Assembly in 1994 and 1995, Coordinator for Zone 6 for the Crime Reduction and Violence Prevention Task Force during 2000-2001 and President for the Youth Forum at the Presidential Conference in April 2000 in Dhaka. He served as Vice-Chairman of RI RYLA Committee continuously for three years (19981999/1999-2000/2000-2001) and as General Coordinator of RI Task Force for Literacy and Education in 2003-04. He was also a member of the Rotary Public Image Committee (2003-05), the Nominating Committee for RI President (2006-07), Advisor of RI Literacy Task Force (2004-05) and a member of RI World Affairs -Asia Committee (2004-05). He was the Chairman of the National Committee formed by the Rotary International for the Solidarity in South Asia Fund in India for Tsunami Relief Work in 20052006 and Special Adviser for the Solidarity in South Asia Fund National Committee for India for 2006-2007. He was a member of the Extension of Rotary Committee for 2006-2009 and the 20062007 Permanent Fund Committees for India, TRF, and Assistant Chairman for the Polio plus Partners Task Force. A major donor and benefactor of the Rotary Foundation, he is a recipient of the Service Above Self Award, Distinguished Service Award and Meritorious Service Award.

Dr Thomas is the recipient of many educational awards, including the A C Muthiah Award for First Generation Entrepreneurship in October, 2010; Arch of Europe Goldstar Award (conferred on the school by Imagen Arte, based in Madrid, Spain) in March 1990; and Vikas Ratna Award for enriching human life and for outstanding attainments by the International Friendship Society of India girls. Unlike boys, girls rarely get chances to go deep into extracurricular activities.” The Thomas-Elsamma couple has two children, Julie and Jacob. Julie, active in the affairs of the school and is its Vice-President, is married to Sea Food Exporter Pradeesh Lawrence and Jacob is wedded to Binita and is settled in the


ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011



The Advancing Kangaroo The Australian National University at Acton on the suburbs of Canberra is among the world’s top research-led universities that provide students with an exceptional environment for discovery and learning that set them apart •


Celine George

ustralia offers an unparalleled opportunity for nature-lovers. Its world-famous beauty spots like Alice Springs and Ayers Rock, its unique and exotic fauna – from kangaroos, wallabies and koala bears to emus, humming birds and kookaburras, makes it a nature lover’s paradise. Studying in its beautiful capital city, Canberra, otherwise known as Bush Capital, presents international students with exciting experiences. Opportunities to receive a Canberra education are highly sought by students from around the world, who find the blend of exceptional educational institutions, capital-city living and close proximity to mountain sports, as well as various other outdoor activities, appealing. The Australian National University at Acton on the suburbs of Canberra is among the world’s top research-led universities that provide students with an exceptional environment for discovery and learning that set them apart. This spirit of discovery is reflected in the university’s motto, Naturam primum cognoscere rerum, which means ‘First to learn the nature of things’. ANU was established by an Act of Federal Parliament, in 1946. From its inception, ANU was built around a group of Australian scholars who had already achieved international distinction, including Sir Mark Oliphant, a leader in radar development and nuclear physics; Sir Howard Florey, discoverer of penicillin and eminent historian, Sir Keith. The research-intensive learning environment gives one the kind of degree that is ranked among the world’s best, along with a unique learning experience. In fact, here there are more educators and mentors per student than many other universities. Graduate education is a major focus of the university. Over one-third of the total student enrolment is in postgraduate study, with almost half undertaking study towards PhD. Postgraduate ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

students and postdoctoral fellows form an important and integral part of the research fabric at ANU, contributing to its intellectual and creative capacity. There are seven discipline-focused colleges, made up of research and education centres, schools and faculties. These colleges link research and teaching at undergraduate, postgraduate and higher degree levels, creating a vital focus from which to achieve research at the highest standards of excellence. College of Arts and Social Sciences is one of the largest of the colleges at ANU, with areas of scholarship covering the Humanities, Social Sciences and Creative Arts. More traditional areas in Social Sciences, such as Philosophy and Political Theory, are regularly placed in the top handful of departments in the world, while Visual Arts practice in the School of Arts has a significant international reputation. College of Asia and the Pacific dedicated to the highest quality of research on, and education about the most dynamic region of the world is the centre of Australia’s intellectual engagement and scholarly dialogue with the many societies, worlds of thought, economies and cultures of Asia and the Pacific. Research is focused on anthropology, archaeology, economics, history, human geography, international relations, gender studies, regulatory institutions, linguistics, political science, resource management, and strategic and defense studies. Through partnerships with the Commonwealth Government, the college has jointly established the Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy, the first of its kind in Southern Hemisphere. College of Business and Economics integrates research and teaching in its key areas of strength including economics, finance, accounting, statistics, management and marketing. College of Engineering and Computer Science conducts the research and teaching that aims to


deliver solutions to some of the most pressing technological and environmental challenges that the world faces. College of Law relies on world-class research and both coursework and research degree programmes are offered. The college’s postgraduate programme is the largest coursework programme at ANU. College of Medicine and Health Sciences has a unique perspective on health and medical science with the capability of combining research teams across a number of disciplines to take a broad view of health issues. Research from the college attracts national and international recognition and awards, and includes three Nobel Prizes. ANU College of Science comprises five Research Schools, a Centre, an Institute and a large faculty (itself comprising several schools and departments). Its major strengths in both teaching and research fall into broad discipline areas. Home to some of the best scientific minds in the world, the ANU College of Science represents Australia’s foremost university-based research activities. International students are attracted by the high standard of Australia’s education and training, its national qualifications framework, welcoming environment and diverse society and make up roughly one quarter of all students at ANU. The International Education Office (IEO) on campus is the first point of contact for every overseas student. Through a strong international presence and links with the world’s leading universities in the US, UK, Europe and Asia, the university has over 13,000 students, representing 94 countries. The campus is on a 145-hectare site in Australia’s national capital, Canberra. The whole green campus is having more than 10,000 trees within its grounds. It is a very attractive site, adjoining native bush land, Lake Burley Griffin and the city centre. The campus provides a safe, enjoyable and friendly study environment. With a large proportion of students staying in student residences, the campus is like a small town, offering accommodation, restaurants, cafes, art galleries, concert halls, banks, sporting facilities and medical services. ANU offers a dynamic social atmosphere, and a commitment to student support. Student halls of residence are thriving communities of scholars actively seeking knowledge and understanding.


They provide an academic, cultural and social environment and are a great place to learn, rather than merely a place to stay while studying. Sporting, social, and cultural activities feature prominently in the typical university student’s lifestyle, and the ANU Students Association coordinates the social and cultural clubs and societies on campus. There is a diverse range of groups to join: from debating and public speaking societies, to sports and recreation clubs, or groups where you can meet other students from your home nation. The ANU Sports and Recreation Association hosts specific sporting clubs such as tennis, badminton, soccer, rugby, and rowing and there are a wide range of facilities available to students including a gymnasium, aerobics classes, sporting grounds and ovals, equipment hire, and squash and tennis courts. For outdoor lovers, Canberra has a lot to offer. Nature-based pursuits popular in the district include bushwalking, mountain biking, mountain climbing, canoeing, orienteering, triathlon, and fishing. The auditorium on the ANU campus is one of the premier venues in Canberra and regularly hosts live international and national bands. The city and nearby suburbs of Manuka and Kingston have a choice of cafes, theatres, cinemas, pubs, and nightclubs. Theatre, drama, music, and art performances are prominent both on campus and in the city. Distinguished by its relentless pursuit of excellence, ANU keeps attracting leading academics and outstanding students from Australia and around the world. With almost 75 per cent of academic staff holding PhDs, ANU has the most highly qualified staff in Australia. Each year ANU staffs are honoured with many awards and prizes such as Carrick Awards for outstanding contributions to student learning, the Onsager Prize of the American Physical Society, the Prime Minister’s Award for Science, the Shaw Prize for Astronomy and Australian Archaeology’s highest award, the Rhys Jones Medal. ANU has earned a distinguished national and international reputation for excellence in research and teaching, including five Nobel Prize winners who have strong connections with ANU. ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Prof Gareth Evans


‘Australia Set to Translate Geopolitical Realities into Global Edu Leadership’


rofessor the Hon Gareth Evans AO QC is Chancellor of Australian National University and a Professorial Fellow at The University of Melbourne. He is President Emeritus of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, which he led from 2000 to 2009. He previously spent 21 years in Australian politics, 13 of them as a Cabinet Minister. As Foreign Minister (1988-96) he was best known internationally for his roles in developing the UN peace plan for Cambodia, concluding the Chemical Weapons Convention and initiating new Asia Pacific regional economic and security architecture. He has written or edited nine books, most recently The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All (Brookings Institution Press, 2009), and has published over 100 journal articles and chapters on foreign relations, human rights and legal and constitutional reform. He has co-chaired two major International Commissions, on Intervention and State Sovereignty (2000-01) and Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (2008-10). In May 2010 he was awarded the 2010 Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute Four Freedoms Award for Freedom from Fear for his pioneering work on the Responsibility to Protect concept, and his contributions to conflict prevention and resolution, arms control and disarmament. In an interview with Asian Educator, Prof Gareth Evans was enthusiastic about the educational opportunities in Australia. Excerpts:

ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

According to you, what are the distinctive features of Australia as a brand in education? Australia is a safe place to live and study, with a stable political system and high standard of living. It is also a thriving multicultural nation, with fully 27% of those living there being born overseas, a third of them in Asia. Around 1,90,000 Asian students study in Australian universities, each one typically making up three-quarters of the overseas student population. Our academic environment reflects in every way that we are part of the Asian region as it rises in power and influence. Commitment to excellence is an oftenused catch phrase, but it is a guiding principle and a reality across Australian universities - and a crucial reason why education has become our third-largest export industry. Could you explain the strategic initiative taken by you and your team to make ANU Australia’s No 1? ANU is consistently ranked No 1 among Australian universities in the great majority of international rankings. According to the latest Federal Government research assessment, 94% of our academics were active in ANU research fields ranked above - or well above world-class. But in a highly competitive domestic and global environment, we know we cannot be complacent. We are about to release a new strategic plan, ANU by 2020, which outlines specific targets for staying at the top nationally and improving our position internationally. The plan focuses on sustaining and enhancing our excellence, with many new metric targets, in the three key areas where all great universities excel: research, research-led teaching in a stimulating learning environment; and contribution to the development of national and international public policy. Under the plan the vast majority of ANU staff will be required to be ‘highly research-active’. And the university is establishing a $10-million fund to attract and retain new world-class staff, at senior and mid-



Australia is a safe place to live and study with a stable political system and high standard of living. It is also a thriving multicultural nation, with fully 27% of those living there being born overseas, a third of them in Asia’

career levels. How friendly are Australia, ANU campus, faculty and the environment to international students? ANU’s 9,600 undergraduate students come from over 100 different countries, making our campus a wonderfully vibrant and diverse place. Many are from Australia’s regional neighbours, including China, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia. Others have travelled from South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. Overall, nearly one-third of ANU’s total student body was born in Asia. All these students live and study alongside Australians and are supported by the ANU International Students’ Department, which assists in the transition involved in living and studying in a new country, and organizes a wide range of social, cultural and academic events. Canberra is a particularly safe and pleasant city for students. ANU is an intimate, single campus institution, nestled close to the heart of the city, with all facilities, a walk or short bicycle ride away. While violent incidents involving international students remain extremely rare everywhere in the country, in Canberra and on the ANU campus there have been none at all in living memory. ANU has international links with leading universities in Asia, the US, and Europe and the university’s students and staff all have numerous opportunities for collaboration and exchange that contribute to its rich intellectual climate. Employability of graduates is a major concern the world over. How do you reconcile this problem in Australia/ANU? Employment rates for ANU graduates are above the national average, with 78% of our undergraduates in full-time work soon after ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

graduation. In the wake of the global financial crisis, take-up rates have been lower than usual, and we expect that if and when the world economy returns to a more normal state, these will again increase. Tertiary study does not guarantee you a job in Australia, but it makes a rewarding career much

Commitment to excellence is an often-used catch phrase, but it is a guiding principle and a reality across Australian universities - and a crucial reason why education has become our third-largest export industry’

more likely. Only 2.7% of recently-graduated Australians are not in work, compared with 8% of those without a degree. As a veteran politician of Australia, a social activist, an educationist and the Chancellor of ANU how do you envisage the future of the university and prospects of Australia as a leading player in education? Australia, geographically straddling the


of staff with a PhD, a very high concentration of internationally renowned scholars. a high graduation rate, a high proportion of graduates going on to further study, a high satisfaction rating amongst students and a low student-to-staff ratio. ANU is the only Australian university in the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), a strategic partnership based on a shared global vision of the world’s best education and research institutions. The other members are Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Berkeley, Peking, Tokyo, NU Singapore, Copenhagen and ETH Zurich. And this is the league in which we are determined to continue to play.

Indian and Pacific Oceans alongside Asia, with its commitment to the region and strong tradition of research and teaching excellence, is perfectly

Australia, geographically straddling the Indian and Pacific Oceans alongside Asia, with its commitment to the region and strong tradition of research and teaching excellence, is perfectly poised to translate the new geopolitical realities of the 21st century into continued international educational leadership’ poised to translate the new geopolitical realities of the 21st century into continued international educational leadership. And ANU, as both Australia’s finest university and its only national university, is poised in turn to go on to even greater heights, enhancing its status as already one of the great universities of the world. Compared to other Australian universities, ANU has the highest percentage


According to you, what are the challenges our universities have overcome to meet the needs of a growing economy? One of the central missions for all Australian universities is to build the skills and stimulate the ambitions of new generations of students to ensure a prosperous future for this nation and for others. As Australia’s national university, ANU has a special relationship with the Federal Government. We work closely with policy makers to help ensure that public policy - that which shapes the daily lives and futures of our citizens - is based on the best thinking and knowledge available. That collaboration works across all disciplines, and addresses the critical issues facing the nation and the globe, including many that relate to the demands of growing economies like food supply and population growth, climate change and heath care for an ageing and growing population. Just last month ANU joined forces with other universities and financial institutions to establish a new centre that will make Australia a hub for finance sector expertise. The new centre will examine regional, national and international financial sector developments, and the impact of regulation on economies, legal systems and policy. How are our universities helpful to industry? Or, otherwise, how can we make them industry forerunners? ANU academics, as in most leading Australian universities, work closely with industry and government, with tangible results, across a huge range of areas, from cutting-edge research in cheaper and more efficient solar technology to vaccines for HIV and to life-saving cancer and malaria research. A very recent example is collaboration between ANU and Bayer CropScience to fasttrack new technology that will produce higheryielding food crops. Once developed and tested, the cutting-edge technology will be provided at no extra cost to farmers in less developed countries so that they can feed expanding populations. ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011



Karthikeyan Iyer Karthikeyan Iyer (Karthik) is a Founder Director of Crafitti Consulting, an innovation research and consulting firm working with a wide variety of enterprises in multiple domains on complex innovation challenges and opportunities in business and technology contexts.

The Future of Teamwork

Orchestra or Jazz?


hey say that teamwork is all about synchronization— multiple people working hand-in-hand and marching step-in-step to achieve a common goal. What rhythms do teams use to synchronize? Let’s look at two different examples of teamwork—an orchestra and a jazz performance. By getting a large number of musicians to play together in an orchestra, live performances could be brought to larger audiences. Of course, this kind of teamwork needs an orchestrator or conductor, who can centrally control the entire performance and provide cues to the musicians to stay in sync. A jazz performance however, embodies a completely different kind of teamwork. Here multiple musicians come together to play in concert: however, they do not depend on any external cues to synchronize with each other; they react to each other and improvise accordingly, while retaining their originality and spontaneity. Every jazz performance therefore is unique. An orchestra works on what we may call an artificial rhythm, external to the actual activity in question, similar to the marching beat of a military drill or parade. The fundamental objective of these rhythms is clockwork timing, precision and certainty. Synchronized swimming, musical orchestra, working of metal in a smithy etc come to mind as examples of teamwork coordinated by artificial rhythms. A jazz performance, on the other hand, follows what we may call a natural rhythm, internal and integral to the activity in question and capable of ebbing and flowing on the fly. The fundamental objective of such a rhythm is continuous improvisation and, of course, creative playfulness and fun. Soccer, theatre and open-source software development come to mind as examples of teamwork guided by natural rhythms. We can expect that different kinds of work would need different rhythms, without having to deem one superior to another. By the same token, one would expect that in every enterprise, we should see ample evidence of both these rhythms in action. It is therefore surprising to observe the pre-eminence of artificial rhythms in the industrial world! Teamwork, in enterprises today, is mostly driven by a hierarchical management structure. At each layer, managers function as central conductors of work orchestras, determining the distribution and pace of work. There are also enterprisewide processes, rules and regulations that drive work


rhythms. New recruits gradually evolve into seasoned professionals by reining in chaotic creativity and bringing in discipline. The nearabsence of jazz-type of teamwork might owe itself to the following: • Most of the work (and teamwork) in today’s industrial world needs certainty, predictability and precision more than adaptation and elegance. • The fear of loss of control makes it difficult for teams to move from artificial to natural rhythms. This imbalance is likely to change in the new world. Thanks to the Internet, information is no longer the preserve of a few institutions, resulting in an extraordinary empowerment of every individual across the planet. Simultaneously, never before in the history of mankind has the world been as connected as it is today. It’s a paradoxical world of extreme connectedness and fierce independence. People are increasingly getting together using online social networks to form personal interest teams and evangelist groups, set up businesses online and even create mass social movements! It is not too far-fetched to expect that empowered individuals will expect similar freedom for creative expression and collaborative work in the enterprises where they work. • For several decades now, teams on the Toyota factory floor have been synchronizing with the rate of dynamic customer demand (Takt time) rather than the rate of supply (production capacity) work. Every work activity is designed as an opportunity for learning and improvement. • The open source and agile software development movements have proven that even decentralized, dynamic teams can work productively and efficiently through a series of short-cycle iterations and improvisation create great products. • Companies such as 3M have very successfully used the concept of assembling dynamic multi-functional Lead User teams for collaborative solution design. As Thomas Friedman so potently discusses in The Lexus and the Olive Tree, the defining characteristic of the new world is speed, not weight. Continued success needs innovation, collaboration, adaptation, improvisation and evolution. Will new world teams choose orchestra or jazz? My bets are on jazz! ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Distance Learning •

Ziad P S

It has become increasingly clear that as nations move towards a knowledge economy, individuals need to constantly learn new skills in order to remain employed and competitive in a knowledge and digital economy. Those individuals who cannot or do not have access to learning new skills will be left behind. India’s enrolment figures in higher education remain abysmally low at a mere 12% compared with that of the US and Canada, where over 80% of college-age students access higher education. According to a World Economic Forum report, India will face huge skills gaps in some job categories because of low employability over the next 20 years. Industries will be particularly challenged by the shortages of highly-skilled talent. In today’s global and fast-changing business environment, access to highly-skilled people -- not just top talent, but people who possess essential expertise -- is crucial to succeed and grow. Distance education is a cost-effective option and can reach out to larger numbers without major constraints of time and place. On the cusp of a new era of acceptance and recognition, nations are realising the importance of distance education. In this context, Asian Educator is delving into Distance Learning Programme’s (DLP’s) Promises, Problems and Possibilities. Please read on:

ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011



Distance Learning

Distance Learning: Promises, Problems and Possibilities Despite the need for improvements, the future of distance learning seems bright. Increasing numbers of students enrolling in distance learning classes underscore the need for comprehensive and thoughtful evolution of distance education.


istance education or distance learning focuses on teaching methods and technology with the aim of delivering teaching, often on an individual basis, to students who are not physically present in a traditional educational setting such as a classroom. It has been described as “a process to create and provide access to learning when the source of information and the learners are separated by time and distance, or both.” There have been many definitions put forward in modern literature. Greenberg defines contemporary distance learning as “a planned teaching/learning experience that uses a wide spectrum of technologies to reach learners at a distance and is designed to encourage learner interaction and certification of learning”. Teaster and


Blieszner say. “The term distance learning has been applied to many instructional methods: however, its primary distinction is that the teacher and the learner are separate in space and possibly time”. Desmond Keegan gives the most thorough definition. He says that distance education and training result from the technological separation of teacher and learner which frees the student from the necessity of traveling to “a fixed place, at a fixed time, to meet a fixed person, in order to be trained”. From these definitions we can see that the student and teacher are separated by space, but not necessarily by time.

This would include compressed video, which is delivered in real time. As stated earlier, this type of live video instruction is the fastest growing means of distance learning today. Distance learning and its relationship to ICT have together offered many promises to the field of education. In practice, however, the combination often falls short of what it attempts to accomplish. Some of the shortcomings are due to problems with the technology; others have more to do with administration, instructional methods or students. Despite the problems, many users like technologies and see continued

In India, distance education has brought in tremendous changes in society. It facilitated a platform not only for the working class but also the neglected people in society in continuing their higher education’ ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Distance Learning


growth in the area. History of distance learning: Modern distance education initially relied on the development of postal services in the 19th century and has been practised at least since Isaac Pitman taught shorthand in Great Britain via correspondence in the 1840s. The University of London claims to be the first university to offer distance learning degrees, establishing its External Programme in 1858. The term distance education can be used to describe any of a number of instructional situations. Although it is thought of as a new term, distance learning has been around for well over 100 years. One of the earlier forms of distance learning was done through correspondence courses started in Europe. This stayed the primary means of distance learning until the middle of this century when instructional radio and television became more popular. As technology has changed, so has the definition of distance learning. Videotaped lectures have been a standard in university and professional courses for the last two decades. Audiotapes and lessons sent through the mail have been used in correspondence courses to teach subjects such as foreign language for quite some time. Today, the Internet and compressed video have taken distance learning in new directions, allowing distance learning to occur in real time. Prsently, live video instruction is the most popular and fastest-growing delivery mode. The promises of distance learning: Many of the promises of distance learning are financial in nature. Universities hope to save money by delivering education to students that are unable to attend classes because of time or distance. The theory is that class size increases while the overhead remains the same. Developing countries are turning to state-run distance education programmes to take the place of ever-increasing enrolments and a lack of physical building space. Places such as Beijing and Jakarta and South American countries such as Brazil and Argentina have all begun to use distance-learning techniques to reach those that would by any other means be unreachable. Countries like India and China are adapting to this system on a large scale. The convenience of time and space is a big promise made by distance learning. Students do not have to be physically with the instructor in space and, depending on the method used, they do not have to be together in time as well. This is a great advantage for non-traditional students who ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

cannot attend at regular times. Scope: Distance education made its humble beginnings through correspondence education in the conventional/traditional institutions and used only print as medium of instruction. Now distance education institutions have evolved into independent, autonomous organizations such as Open Universities offering open education through multimedia instruction. Distance education which was conceived and offered as a supplementary and complementary conventional traditional education evolved into an alternative and almost parallel means of education as well. With advancements in communication and educational technology and development of distance education system as a whole, there has been an enhancement in accessibility, equality and quality of education for all. Despite the need for improvements, the future of distance learning seems bright. Increasing numbers of students enrolling in distance learning classes underscore the need for comprehensive and thoughtful evolution of distance education if it is to become the educational model of the future.

Although it is thought of as a new term, distance learning has been around for well over 100 years. One of the earlier forms of distance learning was done through correspondence courses started in Europe

Indian scenario: In India, distance education has brought in tremendous changes in society. It facilitated a platform not only for the working class but also the neglected people in society in continuing their higher education. Distant education programmes have helped the working class to pursue their respective degrees while they are on the job, eventually to earn a better pay through it. Meanwhile, the different programmes


Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Sikkim Manipal University are the two major players in the country that provide distant education in comparatively appreciative way


have raised the very livelihood of the neglected and the destitute in the backward areas. There are several universities in India that provide distance education in the Open University scheme. However, the acceptance of disciple, gained through distance education, is lower compared with other regular courses in India. Even though the curriculum and syllabus are the same for distance education and regular students, distance educational courses are not considered as equal to regular courses in some quarters. There is a notion that the quality of distance education is very poor. “This is totally baseless”, says Prof N S Ramesh Murthy, Director, Sikkim Manipal University. “The quality of education delivered through distance education is in no way any compromise to that delivered by normal brick and mortar institutions. As distance education continues to grow better and stronger, future technologies will seamlessly integrate distance and education making the whole process better and easier. Distance education is a cost-effective option and can reach out to larger numbers without major constraints of time and place. On the cusp of a new era of acceptance and recognition, nations are realizing the importance of distance education and are arming the current generation with the required professional expertise”, he said while elaborating the issue with Asian Educator. Nowadays, the trend is inclined to distant

education in the country as it offers huge potential in the wake of the country’s development spree. Since most of its consumers are working people who are familiar in the industry, they may not have a certificate in their skilled job, and they could perform better than the conventional degree pursuers in the programmes distant education offers. Besides, in distance education, the aspirant alone is responsible for gathering information and should do research in his own way to complete the course. The conventional universities have their own patterns for education, in which a student could surmount the exam barriers by simply cramming lessons. Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Sikkim Manipal University are the two major players in the country that provide distant education in comparatively appreciative way. There are also several other universities which offer diverse programmes in the Open University mode. IGNOU: The advent of IGNOU has changed the perspective of distance education in the country. Its educational impact can be seen in every nook and cranny of the country. There are few areas in the country where its programmes have not reached. For IGNOU, it is also a socially committed task to raise the livelihood of the destitute and neglected people in society. Almost all prisons in the country have affiliations for IGNOU’s courses. Prisoners get chances either to pursue their education or to begin a new one through IGNOU programmes. IGNOU Kolkata Regional Centre’s exemplary step of establishing a special study centre at Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) proved to be an asset for sex workers and their children. The centre successfully runs eight IGNOU courses for learners belonging to the marginalized sections. Prof V N Rajasekharan Pillai, Vice-Chancellor of IGNOU, told AE that the main objective of the university is the reformation of society. “The school drop-outs and underprivileged class need a helping hand for value addition and survival”, he said. The university now offers 338 programmes of study through over 3,500 courses to cumulative student strength of over 30 lakh. ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Distance Learning


DL: The Future Prospects and Role of Private Universities Distance education is a cost-effective option and can reach out to larger numbers without major constraints of time and place. On the cusp of a new era of acceptance and recognition, nations are realising the importance of distance education •

Prof N S Ramesh Murthy


ignificance of Distance Learning Education (DLE) programmes in the new globalised market situation Education will play a paramount role in the way the world economies shape up in the future. Higher education has evolved from an elitist pursuit into a mass aspiration. Pundits say that by 2020, 40 per cent of the global workforce will be knowledge workers, with a need for tertiary qualifications. Most businesses today require manpower that is educated well and the next level of success for India is going to come from our ability to increase our educated workforce. Globalisation has affected the economies of countries across and will continue to shape the future of education and content delivery indefinitely. The impact of globalisation has led to exceedingly higher enrolments for many universities and colleges. It has become increasingly clear that as nations move towards a knowledge economy, individuals need to constantly learn new skills in order to remain employed and competitive in a knowledge and digital economy. Those individuals who cannot or do not have access to learning new skills will be left behind. The quality of education delivered through distance education is in no way any compromise to that delivered by normal brick and mortal institutions. As distance education continues to grow better and stronger, future technologies will seamlessly integrate distance and education making the whole process better and easier. Distance education is a cost-effective option and can reach out to larger numbers without major constraints of time and place. On the cusp of a new era of acceptance and recognition, nations are realising the importance of distance education and are arming the current generation with the required professional expertise.

ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Distance Education is the future of how education is going to be delivered in How advanced are Indian DLE programmes and technologies? India. It will coDelivering accredited and high quality education exist with Campus in an interactive environment is becoming an Education. increasingly important option for educational Gradually most institutions and providers to deliver and for of the institutions students and professional learners to tap into. Technological development in India has allowed who offer campus for new paradigms of access and new delivery education will systems, linked to new types of demand. Continuous miniaturization of equipment, reduced incorporate distance modules costs, increased user flexibility; portability and integration have led to a whole range of new for the benefit of opportunities. These changes in turn have led to a a large number more effective centralised system of development, of students and and the distribution of educational services and expand its reach software. They have also supported a more open networked society with greater variation and more to tier-II and tierequitable access to educational resources through III cities



Distance Learning

a network infrastructure. Over the last few years this mode of education has made tremendous progress thanks to cutting edge technology. IGNOU, the largest player in DE space, provides its students’ access to GyanDarshan-II- an exclusive educational satellite to provide interactive education using DVB-RCS technology. It offers distance education through Virtual Class Room mode and provides access to digital repository of educational content. EduNxt- by Sikkim Manipal Students opting for distance University Distance Education (SMU-DE) is an award-winning education are now exposed learning platform that empowers to case study contests and students with anywhere and anytime discussion forums. This access. Students can take tests and ensures that they have the quizzes online, read articles, blogs, participate in discussion forums and requisite knowledge and access rich content. skills to be industry-ready

professionals At the end, distance education will allow quality and customised education to be delivered to a larger audience

Quality issues regarding content, method and delivery Quality issues often exhibit themselves as discussions on teaching effectiveness, facultyto-student ratios, attrition rates, student satisfaction, and institutional resources invested in online delivery. Quality distance learning requires careful attention to learning design, effective faculty training,

organisational commitment to adequate programme support, selection of appropriate delivery technology and methodology, and last but not the least, it should be heavily focused on student learning. The current crisis in open and distance higher education is primarily due to the lack of clarity and coordination, the gap between avowed values and the actual practice, and inefficient delivery mechanisms. The solution to this lies in enhancing the quality and accessibility of higher education through the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Prof N S Ramesh Murthy, Director, Sikkim Manipal University (Directorate of Distance Education), brings with him a multifarious experience spanning over thirty years. A lawyer by training, he began his professional career with legal practice at the Karnataka Bar, with the then Advocate-General of the state. This was followed by a long stint of close to two decades in the corporate world in various capacities. The lure of academics drew him to National Law School, Bangalore, where he spent close to a decade. Prof. Murthy was variously in charge of Distance learning and Placements at National Law School apart from teaching. The challenge of establishing a deemed university took him to the coastal city of Mangalore, where Prof. Murthy helped establish Nitte University, a deemed university under the UGC Act, 1956, of which he was the Registrar. Prof. Murthy moved to the Manipal group as Principal Academics in 2010.

Employability issues According to a World Economic Forum report, India will face huge skills gaps in some job categories due to low employability over the next 20 years. Industries will be particularly challenged by the shortages of highly skilled talent. In today’s global and fastchanging business environment, access to highly-skilled people -- not just top talent, but people who possess essential expertise -- is crucial to succeed and grow. Skill and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and social development of any country. Countries with higher and better levels of skills, adapt more effectively to the challenges


ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Distance Learning

and opportunities of globalisation. As there is a shortage of skilled manpower in a number of sectors, large-scale skill development is an imminent imperative. Corporate houses face a constant challenge to hire the right fit and stem attrition, and this challenge of ensuring a steady supply of employable candidates to match the company’s requirement is never-ending. In the buoyant Indian economy where only a fraction of the graduating students are employable, companies face the challenge of recruiting an industry-ready workforce while continually ensuring supply of talent to meet its scaling operations. In fact the latest NASSCOM report states, “Only 25 per cent of the technical graduates and 10 per cent of general graduates in India are fit for employment in multi-national organisations”. Even after recruitment, companies need to spare many months before the new recruit finally starts being productive through on-the-job training. Merits of DLE programmes in the Indian context? • Being able to achieve a significant balance of access, quality and costs • Education is becoming gradually borderless with the increasing popularity of distance learning courses in India • Distance education is invaluable as it provides every prospective student with a means for ‘studying at one’s pace, a course of his choice’, anytime anywhere • The expansion of World Wide Web, coupled with a continued fall in the cost ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

• • •


of processing, storing and transmitting information, has contributed to significant shifts in how distance education is perceived by educators and how it is designed, delivered and administered. University education becomes less expensive Overcrowded campuses can be relieved With a majority of people willing to learn while they earn, distance India’s enrolment figures education programmes are in higher education remain the best option to upgrade one’s skills and keep in abysmally low at a mere 12 per pace with the growing cent compared to that of the competitive job scenario

US and Canada, where over 80

Role of private sector and PPPs per cent of college-age students Public-Private Partnerships access higher education, (PPPs) in education is essential highlighting that public-private for India’s future. The private partnerships are critical for sector has a vested interest in joining hands with universities wooing investment in India’s to produce graduates with the higher education system skill set that they would need to keep them competitive in the global marketplace. It also needs universities to help with research. The public-private partnership is not about privatisation of higher education but about having the private sector invest in enhancing Indian education. India’s enrolment figures in higher education remain abysmally low at a mere 12 per cent compared to that of the US and Canada, where over 80 per cent of college-age students access higher education, highlighting that public-private partnerships are critical for wooing investment in India’s higher education system.



MBA, Engg

Losing Their Sheen?


n the 1950s and 1960s, an engineering degree was considered one of the most prestigious among professional qualifications. An engineer therefore commanded respect in society as s/he was looked upon as one contributing to nation-building. In the 1980s the business management graduate took this place and the MBA degree ruled supreme. This situation continued until 2000 especially following the wave of globalization that swept the nation. Recent trends however point to a waning of interest in and demand for the discipline. The prestigious degree that until a few years ago was a sure passport to a high-profile job with a fabulous remuneration package no longer remains the same, reveal facts and figures. India is one of the major educational hubs in the world with more than 390 universities, including 30 Central universities; out of which 14 are worldclass. The higher secondary schools in the country number thousands and churn out millions of young ones eligible to


pursue further studies. There are more than 3,000 engineering and business colleges, a substantial portion of which are under private management. The gap between the number of institutes in the country and those passing out of higher secondary schools and seeking higher education is, however, so wide that it may remain unbridgeable for a long time to come. To improve the situation, educationists have been demanding the starting of more undergraduate institutes so that aspirants can access the courses they wish to study. It may seem ironic in these circumstances that the country is facing closure of some business and technical institutes for want of students! It is reported that a quarter of the 15 lakh seats in the engineering colleges and 40% of the 3.5 lakh seats in the MBA institutes remain vacant in the current academic year. Is it due to scarcity of students? Or are students not interested in taking up business management and engineering, which once were two of the most-sought-after degrees? What are the

Parents as well as students believe it is futile spending much money and effort. Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh is required for MBA study while engineering demands nearly Rs 4 lakh

reasons for the two streams losing their glamour? Not only private engineering and business management institutes but prestigious Central and State Government-run colleges too suffer from a sharp tumble in student strength. They have all started this academic year with many seats remaining unfilled. While the latter blame the mushrooming of private institutes for their plight, they admit that the entrance examination for admission to their professional courses is tough compared with that of private colleges. So many aspirants opt for private institutes even though the tuition fees there are higher. According to a Times of India report, quoting the Gujarat Technical University (GTU), nearly 2,000 MBA seats are likely to remain unfilled during this academic year though the university has received 23,500 applications for both MBA and MCA. Though 23,060 applications were received last year, around 2,000 seats went vacant, the report said. There are 12,070 MBA seats

ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

MBA, Engg in the state for which 13,600 candidates have applied. For MCA, these are 4,000 and 8,081, respectively. GTU sources say that 1,750 have applied for both MBA and MCA. “The crisis may be attributed to the indiscriminate rise in the number of MBA colleges resulting in the creation of 1,800 additional seats this year, which has led to more seats going vacant. GTU makes admissions to 75% of the seats, the remaining ones being filled by the respective colleges on management quota,” they say. In the last two years 62 new MBA and MCA colleges have been launched in the state. Another report said vacant seats are still there in three new IIMs though the admissions have closed and classes have started. Quoting officials, the report said 55 seats are yet to be filled in the Shillong, Trichy and Rohtak IIMs. The country has 13 IIMs with an intake capacity of nearly 2,700 students in postgraduate programmes. IIM Shillong has found suitable applicants for 106 of its 120 seats while IIM Trichy has enrolled 84, leaving 36 seats vacant. Five seats are yet to be filled in IIM Rohtak. All these three IIMs have closed their admissions for this year and started classes from July 4. Sources point out that the vacancy problem is routine and is the result of the simultaneous admissions to all the IIMs in which students prefer the older institutes. If admissions had been staggered, the coveted seats would not have remained vacant, they say. Private management institutes have also been following a similar process for some years. In 2007, more than 3,000 engineering seats out of the state’s total 55,000 stayed empty in Karnataka. Most of these seats were in private colleges with poor facilities and faculty and in less popular streams of engineering. The fall comes as India’s talent-starved information technology industry already bemoans a lack of engineers to keep up with the scorching pace of growth. In Karnataka, the year 2006 saw ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

The rapidly increasing Engg/MBA institutes in the country have made these courses irrelevant as they are not keeping the parameters of teaching and the admission. It is inevitable that the syllabus shall be competent and the facilities are highlyadvanced, in order to uphold the standard of these courses. Most of the institutes fail to provide this’ - Dr S B Mujumdar, Chancellor of the Symbiosis International University

The report on the losing ground of MBA/ Engg courses is totally baseless. In India, we have rich resources to be managed by skilled ones. We need lot more institutes to churn out the manpower required for industry. The need of the hour is to give further stress on employability’ - Dr G P C Nayar, National President, Federation of Associations of Private Unaided Professional Colleges in India


nearly 4,000 engineering seats going vacant. In 2005 the number was still higher at 6,000, said officials who conduct and administer the Common Entrance Test, or CET, a state-level entrance test for admissions to professional courses in the state. Karnataka is not alone in its oversupply. During the 1990s and early 2000s, driven by intense demand, many states in the South saw an avalanche of professional colleges coming up, often with questionable standards. Inadequate facilities and infrastructure also contribute to the plunge. Poor infrastructure and faculty of technical and business management institutes in the private sector has made many less attractive to students. Arbitrary allocation of engineering colleges and B-schools on political considerations to undeserved hands is another cause. To these people it is a new field, because of which they fail to provide basic facilities that are imperative for technical and business management institutes. The steep degradation has a very decisive impact on employability. How employable are our engineering and management graduates? There are reports about engineering and business management graduates landing jobs that can ideally be filled by diploma holders. This gloom over the courses has made both students and parents uninterested in the courses as these are non-profitable. Amit Bansal, CEO, Purple Leaf, a Pearson Educomp joint venture which provides external coaching for engineering and MBA courses, who has been observing the decline in management courses for some years now points out that because of the current unattractiveness of these courses; parents as well as students believe it is futile spending much money and effort. Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh is required for MBA study while engineering demands nearly Rs 4 lakh. Industry experts say only about a quarter of India’s 4,00,000 engineers who graduate every year are employable. So in a large number of cases the return on investment goes awry. The slowdown in the global economy has hit sectors that have tended to employ the most engineers—IT and ITeS.


Shyam Srinivasan



mployers, universities and professional bodies agree that we need to develop professionals who are highly skilled and ready to face the challenges of increased competition. Employability of our graduates is a core issue. Skill shortage remains one of the major constraints on continued growth of the Indian economy. Although employers across India ask for the same set of soft skills, their skill demands differ for professional skills across economic sectors, company sizes and regions. Most of the educational learning process in India is theory-oriented. Those who score better in the practical experience are either people who had taken an extra effort for the entrepreneurial aspects or the institutions that use practical experience as number one priority. So the shaping up of our graduates into successful employees is a big challenge for the corporate sector. In this context, Asian Educator had a candid talk with Shyam Srinivasan, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Federal Bank. He shared his thoughts on employability, recruitment process and above all the HR vision of Federal Bank. Excerpts from the interview:


s one of the largest commercial banking sector recruiters in India, what is your opinion about the quality of our new-generation graduates? I think one common factor among all of them is the level of preparedness. It is the biggest challenge. There is a fair amount of theory that everybody is good at. Unfortunately, the learning process in India is theory-oriented. The educational system is not having enough practical experience. And those who score better in practical experience are either people who had taken an extra effort for the entrepreneurial aspects or the institutions that use practical experience as number one priority. So the level of preparedness is for being employable and the common factor. That has been the truth for many years. As the demand goes up now, the supply has to be increased. Technology awareness and the level of enthusiasm are known issues. Technical skill is one important area as far as a banking job is concerned. But how you will become effective as an employee in a bank within the first, two or three months is a challenge. Secondly, banks have to understand how to inspire the newcomers from day one. Do you think our graduates are industryenabled? Will they be capable of meeting the demands of the growing market? Every campus has its own specialities. Take the top 100 MBA institutes in the country. They are the target audience for financial institutions and banks as far as recruitment is concerned. The core issue is whether they have the alignment to make themselves employable for the industry or not. They can insert some practicalities in ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Shyam Srinivasan


Industry’s Involvement in the Education Sector should be Enhanced There is a fair amount of theory that everybody is good at. Unfortunately, the learning process in India is theoryoriented. The educational system is not having enough practical experience. And those who score better in practical experience are either people who had taken an extra effort for the entrepreneurial aspects or the institutions that use practical experience as number one priority •

T N Shaji

their syllabus and train them in such a way that employability can be easily achieved. You cannot generalize the quality of the institutions. Some of the premium institutions are very good. Some are not able to produce graduates who are industry-enabled. The best thing is that within the institutions, there should be some effective benchmark. Once the students come to the campus, they should be moulded to take up any challenge. There are institutions which are shaping students having enough practical knowledge. It depends on their filtering process and selection criteria. The educational learning system in India is having more unnecessary examinations and all. This system has to be changed radically. Some institutes are excellent and some are average, so setting up a benchmark is vital. The institutes themselves should make a benchmark within the establishment. The average quality has to go up at any cost. Your suggestions for improving the curriculum and teaching modules to improve our graduates’ capability? The pivotal step is an intense benchmarking process among the institutions. Alignments with top industries, practical experience, recruitment process and industry involvement are also very important. The entire curriculum is to be tailormade in tandem with the banking needs. Industry’s involvement in the education sector should be enhanced to help improve employability. Manipal Education is a role model. They tied up with a leading bank recently. But still the issue is at an early stage and that is to be accelerated. Industry cooperation linkage can happen. India’s employment needs in the banking sector now and by 2015 are almost 150000 jobs. So the ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

institutions should mould the students to make them more employable. Reports say that after IT, the banking sector will be the largest recruiter volumewise in the coming years. What are the specific requirements the banking industry expects from graduates? In education, technical knowledge is of course very important. This knowledge graduates could acquire through their MBA or other management programmes. Everybody comes from their own mindsets and premonitions. So to train them how to deal with customers is a big task. The other issue is the generation gap between the young and senior staff. The positive aspect is the opportunity to transfer the rich experience of the seniors to the newcomers. The minus point is that they don’t connect well. If they don’t connect properly, then the customers will bear the brunt. They have to be connected with the working environment of the organization. Many of the large public sector companies are also facing this hurdle. The campuses should train graduates how to deal such things in an effective way. We don’t get pre-trained staff. The learning is not only in the classroom but in the field as well. We take many initiatives to shape them inside and outside the classroom. This is a big journey indeed and I think there is no quick remedy. Nobody can come like a pre-cooked one. If all the pre-processing is done, it is easy to employ them according to the needs of the organization.

We need a substantial number of staff. Almost 1,500 people are retiring soon. They have to be replaced. We would need 4,000 to 5,000 employees in various sections in the next three years. It’s indeed a challenge’

The scenario of the banking sector in India is changing both in quality and quantity. Please describe your staff requirement in the coming years.



Shyam Srinivasan the nation. For the clerical jobs and all, that kind of academic qualification is enough. But for potential leadership positions, banks need prospective manpower. If an organization seeks superior quality, it has to recruit more efficient personnel.


hyam Srinivasan has been the Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Federal Bank since September 23, 2010. He joined Federal Bank after having worked with leading multinational banks in India and overseas across the Middle East, India and South East Asia, where he gained significant experience in retail lending, wealth management and SME banking. Before joining Federal Bank, Shyam Srinivasan was with Standard Chartered Bank, the largest foreign bank in India, where he was responsible for strategy, development and management of the bank’s Consumer Banking Business spread across a large network of branches in India employing over 6,000 people. Prior to that, he was Country Head of Standard Chartered Bank’s Consumer franchise in Malaysia where he focused on broad-basing the revenue streams and delivered significant increase in profitability while developing a strong team of local professionals. Shyam Srinivasan is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Kolkata and Regional Engineering College, Tiruchirapally. He has completed a Leadership Development Programme from the London Business School and had served on the Global Executive Forum (the top 100 executives) of Standard Chartered Bank from 2004 to 2010.


We need a substantial number of staff. Almost 1,500 people are retiring soon. They have to be replaced. We would need 4,000 to 5,000 employees in various sections in the next three years. It’s indeed a challenge. Today’s youngsters are very smart. Nobody can deny this fact. They have to be guided in a proper way. Why IIM graduates do not prefer banking sector jobs? I don’t think so. I am from IIM. If the organizations offer better pay packages, they will join them. It is a matter of supply and demand. The country’s needs are so huge. The job requirements of India are so massive at the entry level. As one of the top 20 banks in the country, Federal Bank needs 5,000 people within three years. So just imagine the need of the entire industry in

Can you explain Federal Bank’s vision of employee satisfaction? First of all we are offering not jobs but careers at our bank. That is the recruitment philosophy of Federal Bank. The first step is continuous learning. The second step is linkage of personal growth with their performance. The individual who acquires more skills will definitely come up. Through performance they can move up on the ladder and even the sky is not the limit for their growth. Our objective is to provide a career and to ensure them continuous learning opportunity. Today’s world is different from what it was five or ten years ago. Nobody can predict what will happen in the immediate future. The scenario can change. In future, adoption of technologies will be higher and manpower need less. In banking, the future is of relations rather than technology; do you agree with this view? If so how should the HR vision be? I think technology will dominate HR in every dimension. But at the same time it can’t substitute the thinking capacity of an individual. Technology can make things easier. But still people should create more time and efforts for conversation. Technology should be enabled in such a way that transaction time can be reduced. We won a national award for internal productivity measures. It was a recognition for our technology upgrade. As a new-generation CEO, how much importance are you giving to talent hunt personally? I have taken many efforts. We hired around 900 people in the last one year. I make sure that I should address all of them. In fact I met them personally and interacted with them. Top 4 to 5 officials should meet these newcomers before they really go in the field. These are freewheeling conversations and relevant to the individuals also. We have to assess why they have been selected by our bank and what are their longerterm aspirations. We could explain the practical challenges to them. These efforts are being made to orient them for better performance. ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011


T V Mohandas Pai



ohandas Pai is the Chairperson of the Board of Manipal Universal Learning Private Limited, a global education services corporation, and Adviser to the Manipal Education and Medical Group. His areas of focus are Education, Information Technology (IT) and Human Resource Development aimed at improving the quality of education and availability of skilled manpower in the country. He is a member of the Dr Anil Kakodkar Committee on Autonomy for the IITs and the Karnataka Knowledge Commission. Mohan was also a member of the Kelkar Committee constituted by the Union Ministry of Finance. Until mid-2011, Mohan was a Member of the Board at Infosys Limited, where he headed Human Resources; the Infosys Leadership Institute; Education &Research; Administration and Infrastructure & Facilities. He was Infosys’s CFO from 1994 to 2006. In June 2011, he stepped out of Infosys to pursue his other long-standing passion, higher education for human development. Mohan was a key player in the development of the IT services industry in India. As CFO of Infosys, Mohan had won the ’Best CFO in India’ award from Finance Asia in 2002, and ‘Best Chief Financial Officer in India’ in the Best Managed Companies poll conducted by Asia Money in 2004. Mohan has a keen interest in human development through education such as illiteracy eradication through the promotion of primary education. In an interview given to Asian Educator, Mohan explains the present higher education scene in the country and his suggestions to revamp the system. Excerpts:


ou opined in a recent article that China would likely overtake the US as the education hub of the world in the next 20 years. What prompted you to say that? What will be India’s status then? China will be the major education power in the world after 20 years, primarily because of the huge investment it is making in the sector. There are 1,000 universities there. It already has the largest number of PhDs coming out of its universities every year and the R&D expenditure is going up. So China could be the dominant power in the education sector in the world, possibly overtaking the US because public funding for education by the US is coming down. And people find the fees going up year after year unsustainable. Now35% of PhDs are Asians, coming from India, China and Korea. White Americans’ number is going down. On the other hand India’s education infrastructure has become inadequate to meet its needs. It is not producing enough PhDs. The total number of PhDs from the IIT system is 1,500 to 1,700. IITs are not spending enough money on research. The faculty position is not very good either. So India will obviously miss the opportunity unless it opens up the sector and invests heavily in higher education. You had mentioned the national scholarship scheme in the article. Could you throw some light on it? In the next 10-20 years we will need to increase the gross enrolment ratio from 13% in the age group of 18-24, may be to 25-30. In China it is 25% and may become 30%. In the US and most developed countries it is more than 50%. We have to increase it. We have to allow the private sector to enter the

ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

T V Mohandas Pai


India will Miss the Opportunity Unless it Opens Up the Sector The Government should open up the system and the system should allow expansion of good institutions. The Government should also liberally pump in funds for research. All institutions which want to do research should compete for research funds. Thus money will flow for research and that will drive quality over a period of time. Students will have the options to go to institutions of their choice and it will make positive impact on quality •

James Paul

field in a big way. Since the private sector is not funded by the Government, it has to charge fees. The sector is becoming a bigger partner in higher education, which is necessarily because of inadequacies in Government funding and Government management. The only way to have a greater enrolment ratio is to have a national scholarship programme. So Government funding for higher education should go. It should shift from having block grants for education to creating a scholarship programme. Anyone seeking higher education can get a part of the fees paid by the scholarship programme. The remaining part can come through a national loan scheme the interest of which should be nominal. The Government has enough money. It has to shift this money to scholarship schemes allowing the private sector to come in. The public sector also has to charge fees so they become part of funding for Government-run institutions instead of being grants. Thus by having a scholarship scheme and not funding educational institutions, the Government creates empowerment of individuals, each individual getting empowered. If they are empowered they can go to institutions of their choice. Now if you are poor, you go to the Government institution How do you evaluate the merits and demerits of India’s education sector? India has 3,800 engineering collages of which only 250 or 300 are Government-run, the rest being in the private sector. Of the 3,800, some 1,500 are not good and another 1,500 are reasonably good and 500 really good. Ten years ago, this was not the situation. So we have seen quality graduates coming out. Once you create adequate capacity and have a national scholarship ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

scheme, students will go to a good institution and bad institutions will die. Out of the 3,800 institutions, 500 will not get enough students and they will have to shut down because they are not good. If you allow good ones to grow in size, each of the top 500 can absorb 1,000 students yearly. Thus 5,00,000 students get good education. That is the system we must adopt, whereby good institutions can expand capacity so students can go to them, and bad institutions will die naturally.

The Kakodkar Committee report has said very clearly that India has to improve the production of PhDs and the IIT system should churn out at least 10,000 of them. Also, the capacity of the IIT system has to improve. India should also develop 100 institutions, which can take in 1,000 students each for 1,00,000 undergrads to go for high-quality education every year’

Remove the constraints on the system, so that quality goes up. If this happens in ten years, we will have a very large number of high-quality institutions competing to get the best students. We have yet to develop world-class universities. Nor can we have one in the next 20 years because the investment should go in, students should come in and faculty should come in. It is a long process. What are your suggestions to improve the system? My suggestion to improve quality is to empower students. Students should have the



T V Mohandas Pai

capacity to pay the fees. The Government should open up the system. The system should allow good institutions to expand. The Government should

liberally fund research. All institutions which want to do research should compete for research funds. Thus money will flow for research and that will drive quality over a period of time. At the end of the day, students will have the choice to go to institutions of their choice which will have a great impact in improving quality. About 2,60,000 Indians are going abroad for studying because they have the means and they feel that they won’t get good quality in the country. As their economic condition improves, people will decide where they want to go. If the economic condition is poor, people will be forced to put up with bad quality. To improve the economic Education is all about freedom of conditions, empower the thought and freedom of enquiry. So students by giving them a choice and scholarship. set up a liberal economic and liberal

educational regime. The communist regime in West Bengal did not allow private sector engineering colleges for long, it was the state’s children who suffered. Kerala also followed the same and there also the children suffered, not the political class’


You were with the Kakodkar Committee. Could you share the quintessence of your findings and recommendations and the action taken to implement its recommendations? The Kakodkar Committee report has said very clearly that India has to improve the production of PhDs and the IIT system should churn out at least 10,000 of them. Also, the capacity of the IIT system has to improve. India should also develop 100 institutions, which can take in 1,000 students each for 1,00,000 undergrads to go for high-quality education every year. That will create the base. The Government should set up a scholarship programme for students who don’t have the means to go to the IITs. The Government should give large grants to improve the infrastructure and quality of research in the IITs.

In the article you had advocated liberalization of education. Some quarters feel it will spoil the IIT and IIM systems. Do you see any substance in this articulation? The aim of the Government’s higher education programme is to make sure that all the young people get quality education. It is for this that the Government is setting up public institutions where education is subsidized, this is good. But the Government should not do anything to protect institutions and prevent others from coming in. This is what it has been doing for the last many years. Today, only about 13% of our youngsters go to college, 87% keeping off. They don’t get good education, who is responsible for this? The situation has to improve. There should be a system which allows other institutions to flourish. So the Government cannot say it will open up but will not allow foreign institutions to come in because the IIMs and IITs will be hurt. This is a very bad argument. Do you think that the present Government policies are favourable to the education sector? The present Government has promised to increase the budget allocation for education. But there is a lot more to be done. Many policies need review and many new ones should be introduced. More liberalization should be there. How do you foresee India as an education hub in the next 10 and 20 years? I was an optimist until two or three years ago. But now I am becoming pessimistic about India becoming an education hub for outsiders because I don’t see any forward movement or much action taking place. I see the same kind of rigidity. We don’t improve. A year missed will not come back for young people. So I think we have to move very quickly. We must open up education and give autonomy to all the universities. The Government must not interfere in the university affairs. A university should be free to set the curriculum, free to hire good faculty and free to attract students. Education is all about freedom of thought and freedom of enquiry. So set up a liberal economic and liberal educational regime. The communist regime in West Bengal did not allow private sector engineering colleges for long, it was the state’s children who suffered, Kerala also followed the same, there also the children suffered, not the political class. Create a liberal set-up and let students decide what they want. Students will always go to good institutions. ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011


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Edu Events

The educational events industry is growing in a big way in many countries facilitating the meeting of educational course seekers at different levels with various types of service providers from the education and allied sectors l

Special Correspondent


du-Exhibitions are a bridge between students and institutions. They are also platforms to share and acquire information pertaining to diverse segments of education. An effective communication among students, parents and institutions that takes place at the events has brought out remarkable changes in the educational trends. Students get chances to clear off the obscurity in certain segments of courses since they are facilitated to interact directly. As a result, aspirants could converge and pack off details of different disciplines and could choose what they wish on the spot. With the purpose of building public awareness and support education improvement, EduExhibitions have gathered great momentum in the educational sector. Efforts are being made to expose potential courses and new opportunities that different institutions offer. GETEX-Dubai and EDEX-Colombo are the two major exhibitions in this regard in Asia and have been conducting events for the last few years. An Education

ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Exhibition is a ticket to a wide range of educational opportunities lying across the world. In the wake of GETEX’s forthcoming exhibition in Dubai, Asian Educator conducted a survey among the students, who have used this opportunity, to know their experience with the Edu-Exhibitions. One Dubai-settled NRI student, who declined to be named, told AE about the fabulous opportunity he got to study in an Australian university for a management course with a scholarship. After his school, he was wandering without a proper guideline for higher studies. He came to know about GETEX and thought of similar other events, which were finial and had not shown much interest. With fragile interest, he attended it and tried for a management co urse in an Australian university and got selected to study there with a scholarship. So many students have utilized this opportunity to pursue higher studies. It is such events that provide more detailed information such as scholarship, scope, new trends in education and about the universities.



Edu Events

Kamal Abeysinghe, Chairman of EDEX

Edu Events Industry on Growth Path With Sri Lanka following a speedy development path and with demand for trained skills and better educated workforces increasing, events like EDEX will enhance opportunities


he educational events industry is growing in a big way in many countries facilitating the meeting of educational course seekers at different levels with various types of service providers from the education and allied sectors. EDEX, a major international educational event, has been held annually during January uninterruptedly since 2004 at BMCH Colombo, Sri Lanka, It was being organized as a twin event after 2006 with the second leg in Kandy. EDEX Expo 2012 is to be held at BMCH, Colombo, from January 20 to 22 and at Kandy City Centre, Kandy, on January 27 and 28. About 50,000 people attend the twin expos annually. “When EDEX was launched in 2004, there was no platform in Sri Lanka showcasing the choices, options and opportunities for higher education and employment. In fact career and higher education guidance was not at all deemed important then. Gradually, however, its importance was felt by all concerned - parents, students,


educators and policy makers,” says Kamal Abeysinghe, Chairman of EDEX. EDEX Expo which is completing eight years has thus fulfilled an emerging national need whilst retaining its premier status in the industry, he says. According to him, there are about a dozen educational exhibitions being held annually and more new players are entering the market. These events, he is sure, have a very good positive outcome. With Sri Lanka following a speedy development path and with demand for trained skills and better educated workforces increasing, events like EDEX will enhance opportunities not only for higher educational and skills development institutes but for the educational events industry as well. Kamal Abeysinghe says educational exhibitions occupy an important place in the annual media plans of institutes. He also feels that nonparticipation of institutes in major educational exhibitions is disadvantageous as others may reap the benefits. Over the years EDEX has become a comprehensive brand beyond a mere exhibition. The virtual EDEX platform that offers numerous educational and career resources such as a jobseekers’ data base and job/higher education course seekers’ search engine, career profiling etc; the pioneering career-oriented periodical, EDEX Magazine and the EDEX Think Green campaign that educates, activates and engages youth towards sustainable living and promotion of green skills and green jobs through the Web portal are a few such value additions. The Green Zone, Careers Stall and Career Guidance Seminars conducted at EDEX are all new features. A separate pavilion for vocational training and skills development institutes has also been introduced for the benefit of the majority who fail to enter universities. “We have a passionate team of people with the multi-disciplinary skills of the organizing committee and the staff. They are capable of responding to any unforeseen situation and come up with solutions that add value to stakeholders. The reputation and goodwill as a professional event organizer and the overwhelming support by sponsors and partners are among other key success factors of EDEX,” says Abeysinghe.

Anselm P Godinho


Still a Long Way to Go There is no other platform where an institution can speak to its future students and bring the parents face to face and give them a first-hand experience of what the university/institution has to offer first-hand experience of what the university/ institution has to offer.

Anselm P Godinho is the Managing Director of International Conferences & Exhibitions Ltd (ICE), Dubai, UAE. His experience and history with exhibitions, conferences and conventions in the Middle East, India, Australia and the UK help him maintain very strong links with the education, media and energy fraternity across the world. Though being a citizen of Australia, Anselm now spends most of his time in the UAE and works on developing marketing strategies and partnerships for academic and occupational education providers, and professional development through workshops and conferences in several vertical business streams. Excerpts from the interview AE had with him:


he educational events industry is growing in many countries. How do you look at this? This is a misconception. People think it is big but when compared to most other essential industries the events section of the education industry is very small. Yes, there has been some growth in recent years but it has a long way to go. How important are events in the total media planning of educational institutions? From a recruitment and PR point of view it is very important. There is no other platform where an institution can speak to its future students and bring the parents face to face and give them a

ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

What innovations have you introduced in the ‘edu events’ industry in the continent? We noticed a void in communication between industry and the educator sector in the region that stands out like a sore thumb. We are attempting to bridge this divide with the introduction of GETEX’s Excellence Forums. The focus this year is on Engineering, Healthcare and Medicine and Business and Finance. Designed to be an information-source of case studies, projectanalysis, trouble-shooting processes and other such subjects, presented from the region’s industry leaders, the Excellence Forums will open a dialogue for students and young, aspiring professionals to learn, absorb and adapt to changes and developments within their respective fields. What are the success factors of GETEX? GETEX is the largest show of its kind in the region. It is a tried and tested way of reaching out to an audience of learners across the Middle East and serves as a platform to promote academic, vocational and professional development programmes to the student and professional Arab and expatriate community in the region. Our view of a successful GETEX is when we experience active involvement from the secondary education, private and public sectors by scheduling organized field trips for their respective students to the event. The success of any event is based on the quantity and quality of visitors at the event and this is further demonstrated by the percentage of repeat space bookings year on year at GETEX. What is GETEX’s contribution to GCC’s student intake? We get in excess of 30,000 visitors to the show annually at GETEX Dubai every April. Our exhibitor retention is about 80%; the show has seen growth nearly every year over the last 15 years. This is testimony to how successful the show has been for exhibitors, about 400 from over 35 countries. Your vision of the importance of education branding? Our vision of education branding is more holistic and this is what we try to achieve at GETEX. We provide a platform for education and training providers to showcase their products and services. Participants get to address faculty, parents, students and young professionals face to face at the event. The event also benefits from the support it receives from an active PR and advertising campaign.




Yajnavalkya: the Vedantin par excellence


ne who looks for the origins of philosophy in India would not stumble upon individual thinkers like Thales, Parmenides and many such pre-Socratic eminent intellectuals as it is in the case of Europe, but on a tradition that connects one to infinity. It offers infinite wisdom along with infinite happiness. As the famous Upanishadic mantra says, Only infinity can sprout infinity and infinity remains even after taking infinity from infinity. The goal of philosophical thinking and wisdom in ancient India was eternal and infinite bliss for everyone. Yet it was individuals, who form a tradition over a period of time, that carry philosophical thinking forward. There are many individual thinkers who find references in the Vedas and the Upanishads and Yajnavalkya is perhaps the most prominent of them. This mythico-historical person was described as a man with many abilities and vocations in the tradition: as an adviser to King Janaka, as a householder who had two wives, a vivid thinker and philosopher, the author of the famous Yajnavalkya Smriti, a practical man with the wisdom of a detached sage


all the knowledge he had gained from his teacher. It was individuals, who form a Yajnavalkya then vomited all this knowledge, tradition over a period of time, comprising the collection carry philosophical thinking forward. Yajnavalkya is perhaps the of Yajus, in the form of food. The other disciples most prominent one. of Vaisampayana took the form of Tittiri birds and ate the vomited Yajus, which later came to be etc. His philosophical known as Taittariya Yajurveda or Krishna outlook, as revealed or black Yajurveda, as it was delivered and in the Brihadaranyaka consumed in the form of vomited food. Upanishad is arguably After mastering the other three Vedas the strongest foundation from different teachers, he once again upon which the entire endeavoured to learn the Yajurveda, which edifice of Vedantic he had given back to Vaisampayana. But thinking is constructed. this time he decided not to approach any There are other human being for knowledge and references to the person sought it from Lord Aditya who was Yajnavalkya in many pleased at his penance and intelligence ancient texts, but there is no way to and imparted him the knowledge that conclude that they all refer to one comprised what came to be known as single person. Moreover, there was Sukla or white Yajurveda. only very little reference to his lineage Practical man and philosopher: in the texts. Yajnavalkya had two wives, Kathyayani Though the Mahabharata mentions and Maithreyi, and was supposed to Yajnavalkya as a son of Viswamitra, have earned a lot of wealth for his it is widely accepted that he was born family. In Kathyayni, he had children, to Brahmaratha (some other places while Maithreyi, though was officially refer to Devavrata as his father) and wedded to him as wife, largely remained Sunanda Devi after several religious his intellectual partner and disciple and vows, fasts, prayers and penance by the learned from him Vedantic philosophy. couple. He would have ventured into His reputation as a very learned sage the path of philosophical knowledge would have fetched him all comforts at a very early age and sooner became during those days when learned men a staunch advocate of a philosophical were widely respected by the people position that affirms the supremacy of and their rulers. He served kings and the absolute reality Brahman. On most was renowned for his knowledge and occasions we find Yajnavalkya engaged expertise in performing the various Vedic in debates on the ultimate nature of rituals. These rituals comprise what is reality or the fundamental features known as the Karma Kanda portion of of Brahman, the ultimate reality. He the Vedas. The perspective of the Karma would have joined King Janaka’s fort, Kanda attached immense value to various as the king was fond of such men with actions performed by people, to yagas, great knowledge and wisdom. yajnas and other sacrifices, in contrast to Before the beginning of his the Jnana Kanda portion that emphasized illustrious career as a Vedantic a detached search for pure knowledge. philosopher, he was educated by Vaisampayana, who once became angry One important text attributed to him is the famous Yajnavalkya Smriti, which with him and asked him to give back ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011



comprises one very important text of India’s mind, intellect, ego and breath condition the self. In the dream state, the ancient Dharmashastra literature. body and the senses disappear and in the dreamless sleep state, except All these would have happened during an breath, every other condition ceases to exist. His philosophy envisages a early, yet more eventful and intellectually active, fourth state, the Turiya, which is a state of conditionless existence, where it phase of Yajnavalkya’s life. As it was customary realizes itself as pure, immutable and all-encompassing. to Indian traditions, Yajnavalkya too had decided Yajnavalkya categorically emphasizes the exclusive significance and to retire from active family and social lives for importance of the self. It is for the self everything else—the wife, the dedicating himself completely to the pursuit of husband, the son, money, the world, gods, animals and everything else—is knowledge. This desired and loved. Hence the is the occasion self should be the supreme where we find object of contemplation, him announcing knowledge and realization. to his wives his In other words, one needs to decision to divide realize that everything is for all he has to the and hence is the self. two and end their The method of this pursuit relationship. This of knowledge is also unique. is followed by Since the object of knowledge an exceptionally here is conditionless, our remarkable usual ways of knowing conversation an object—by grasping between him and its peculiar features and one of his wives, qualities—don’t work. One Maithreyi. The cannot describe or define alliance with the supreme reality, as it is Maithreyi—who indescribable and indefinable. persistently Hence one needs to employ raised significant the method of negation, philosophical describing, “what the self is questions—would not”. This is the celebrated have further neti neti method outlined by instigated him to Yajnavalkya. This description leave behind the gradually leads the truthaction-oriented seeker to the absolute with a life of a Karma merging of his/her self with Yogin for the the latter. sake of pursuing The knowledge of this truth through self is characteristically the path of pure different from other forms knowledge. We of knowledge, as it does not Yajnavalkya categorically emphasizes find a unique philosophy of involve an epistemological separation of the exclusive significance and absolute spirit unravelling in the subject from the object of knowledge, importance of the self. It is for the self which is a prerequisite for all other forms of Yajnavalkya’s expositions everything else - the wife, the husband, knowing. Here one knows oneself and this of the concepts of truth and reality. knowledge dawns upon one only with the the son, money, the world, gods, realization of one’s conditionless existence. Yajnavalkya’s philosophy animals and everything else - is desired Hence knowledge here amounts to a of the absolute: He advocates and loved. Hence the self should be transformation of one’s being. the supreme reality of the the supreme object of contemplation, This is the ultimate message of Indian self and its identity with philosophical tradition. Every school of knowledge and realization the ultimate reality. In a thought affirms this in a categorical fashion. conversation with King Janaka The seeds of this idea can be traced back to he discusses the real nature of Yajnavalkya’s theoretical expositions of the absolute reality described in the self, which is further elaborated in many other the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Yajnavalkya would have been a man with Upanishads, more importantly in the Mandukya incredible wisdom, amazing practical knowledge and exemplary moral Upanishad. He elaborates how the eternal self integrity. Indian tradition demands a combination of all these as its ideal. appears associated with various conditions during its various states of existence; waking, dream and (The author can be contacted at dreamless. In the waking state the body, senses, ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011



Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing Comes of Age As the IT field is rapidly moving towards cloud computing, the software industry’s focus is shifting from developing applications for PCs to data centres and clouds that enable millions of users to make use of software simultaneously. This is creating a huge demand for manpower with skills in this area of technology •

Dr K Poulose Jacob

I am ready for anything; I have cloud power”, so declares Microsoft, the software giant in its advertisement showing a travelling businessman, widely displayed. Airports are a common place where this is seen, also showing to catch the attention of moving businessmen. Mobility is one feature that recently got tagged on to computing. What can we do while we are on the move? The answer is: we can do anything and everything, provided we have a good access device. We get access to unlimited computing resource; that is the beauty of cloud computing. And we pay only for what we use! The passion for ‘owning’ more and more is no longer the trend. These unlimited resources lie in the cloud, the metaphor for the Internet, based on the cloud drawing used in the past to represent the telephone network, and later to depict the Internet in computer network diagrams as an abstraction of the underlying infrastructure it represents. The infrastructure is typically provided by a third party and does not need to be purchased for one time for infrequent intensive computing tasks. Capital expenditure gets reduced to ope6rational expenditure. The underlying concept of cloud computing dates back to the 1960s when John McCarthy opined that “computation may someday be organized as a public utility.” A thorough exploration of the characteristics now attributed to cloud computing is also seen in Douglas Parkhill’s The Challenge of the Computer Utility, a 1966 publication.


Cloud computing providers deliver applications via the Internet, which are accessed from a Web browser, while the business software and data are stored on servers at remote locations. Cloud computing presents computing resources like hardware, software, platform or infrastructure as utility-oriented services to the consumers. Similar to electricity, gas and water, computing is offered as services. The service offerings on virtualized platforms are aimed to be accessible anywhere with complete management by the provider, as on-demand, subscription-based as well as elastic in terms of scalability. Improved resource utilization, higher independence on device and location and reduction in cost are some of the claimed benefits. Several open issues and concerns at the service and architecture levels include security, privacy, trust, integration standards, interoperability, availability, sustainability, dynamic cost model and loss of control over sensitive data. Cloud computing compares well with shared public utilities like water supply or electric power supply. We get access to clean water by simply turning on the tap or to electric power at the required rating when the switch available in the household is tu0rned ON. Cloud computing works in a similar fashion. Cloud computing services can be turned on or off quickly as needed. Obviously, there is a team of dedicated professionals making sure the service provided is safe, secure and available on a 24/7 basis. When the electric switch is OFF, not only are you saving energy, but you aren’t paying for the power you don’t currently need. This philosophy perfectly applies to cloud computing as well. It thus emerges as a new paradigm for delivering IT services as utility-oriented services on subscription basis. In this paradigm, the power is shifted to consumers. They have access to more compute power as well ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Cloud Computing

• as storage and to new applications, at an alluring price, as well as they enjoy the advantages of a self-service and self-managed environment. Clouds can be classified as public, private or hybrid depending on the model of deployment. A public cloud is a cloud made available to the general public in a pay-as-you-go manner. A private cloud is a service limited to within an organization, not made available to the general public. A hybrid cloud is the seamless use of public cloud along with private cloud when needed. In a typical public cloud scenario, a third-party vendor delivers services such as computation, storage, networks, virtualization and applications to various customers. In a private cloud environment, internal IT resources are used to serve their internal users and customers. Businesses are adopting public cloud services to save capital expenditure and operational cost by leveraging the cloud’s elastic scalability and market-oriented costing features. Nevertheless, public cloud computing also raises concerns about data security, management, data transfer, performance and level of control. In the language of this market, the computation resources are frequently referred to as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and the applications as Software as a Service (SaaS). In fact, use of the acronym appears ubiquitously from SaaS to PaaS (Platform as a Service) to XaaS (Anything as a Service). Some of the key characteristics of cloud computing can be listed as follows: • Device and location independence enable users to access systems using a Web browser regardless of their location or what device they are using (eg PC, mobile phone). As infrastructure is off-site, provided by a third party, and accessed via the Internet, users can connect from anywhere. • Multi-tenancy enables sharing of resources ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

and costs across a large pool of users thus allowing for: Centralization of infrastructure in locations with lower costs (such as real estate, electricity etc). Peak-load capacity increases (users need not engineer for highest possible loadlevels). Utilization and efficiency improvements for systems that are often only 10%– 20% utilized. Reliability is improved as multiple redundant sites are used, which makes well-designed cloud computing suitable for business continuity and disaster recovery. Scalability via dynamic ‘on-demand’ provisioning of resources on a finegrained, self-service basis near real-time, without users having to engineer for peak loads. Maintenance of cloud computing applications is easier, because they do not need to be installed on each user’s computer. They are easier to support and to improve, as the changes reach the clients instantly.

Security is an issue in cloud computing which has somewhat conflicting manifestations. While security could improve because of centralization of data, increased security-focused resources etc concerns do persist about loss of control over certain sensitive data and the lack of security for stored kernels. Nevertheless, security is often as good as or better than under traditional systems, in part because providers are able to devote resources to solving security issues that many customers individually cannot afford. Private cloud installations are in part motivated by users’ desire to retain control over the infrastructure and avoid losing control of information security. One other issue to be addressed is the need to have a regulatory authority akin to TRAI (Telephone Regulatory Authority of India), which would spell out the terms of service as well as costs involved with respect to the various classes of service and the level provided. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) would stand to benefit by adopting this emerging paradigm. As the IT field is rapidly moving towards cloud computing, the software industry’s focus is shifting from developing applications for PCs to data centres and clouds that enable millions of users to make use of software simultaneously. This is creating a huge demand for manpower with skills in this area of technology. Skill developers may like to look into this trend.


Dr K Poulose Jacob,

Professor of Computer Science at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) since 1994, is currently Director of the School of Computer Science Studies. He has been Director of the CUSAT Computer Centre and had initiated the Centre for Information Resource Management. Earlier he was Chairman of two Boards of Studies and has been the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and presently Chairman, Boards of Studies in Computer Science and Engineering. With more than 75 research publications to his credit, he has research interests in Information Systems Engineering, Intelligent Architectures and Networks. Dr Poulose Jacob has presented research papers at several international conferences in Europe, the US, the UK, Australia and other countries.

(Acknowledgement: The author acknowledges reference to material in the CSI Communications May 2011 issue.)


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Dileep Jose

An Entrepreneur with Extraordinary Abilities Here is an ordinary man with extraordinary abilities in the construction sector. His entrepreneurial capability and the experience he has acquired through relentless effort have made him a man of business on a par with an IIM graduate


s he sits in his office in Kochi, Dileep Jose, CEO of Anna Properties, the construction wing of the Anna Group of Companies, tells Asian Educator, “I got into this by accident.” How do you accidentally become a major success story? Jose, perhaps the only person who not only beat the global slowdown but reaped benefits from it too, has no management degree and no family business background. He is in fact an entrepreneur in his own way. After graduating from college, Jose, like any other young man, started out searching for a job. “My parents wanted me to go to the Gulf as they thought it was the right place to make money. So I thought I needed more qualifications and joined some diploma courses like Electronics, Plumbing and Travel and Tourism. In spite of my plan to go to the Middle East and pursuing the ‘Gulf-oriented’ courses, I never possessed a passport”, says Jose. His decision to start a business of his own came when he happened to see a piece of arid land near a posh hospital in his town. Before foraying into the real estate business—eventually into the construction segment— he did some in-house and outside work relating to it. The year was


2008, the time when the subprime bubbles were blown and many global giants were swirled in the stir, some crumbling under pressure. The impact of the economic crunch pulled down giant business houses like Lehman Brothers, which were managed by grads from the world’s famed business schools like Harvard and Oxford. The hardest-hit by the recession that swept the whole world was the real estate sector: it set afire the entire sector, irrespective of size and region. Only a few were able to remain afloat during the crisis, particularly in India. Many players took asylum in the bailout package and some others drastically axed their manpower. Yet all found it difficult even to meet their day-to-day expenses. It was in the midst of these jitters that Jose was able to not just grow with the market but engulf it, taking over the business of most of the competition within a short time. His competitive edge? In large measure energy, determination, a sharp focus on the customer’s needs — and a gift for making potentially dreary work so rewarding that employees naturally strive to be productive and thorough. His success was also due to the

strategy he adopted and the tactics he employed to overcome the crisis. “Of course the real estate business was new to me and I had little knowledge about it. By entering it, I was just trying my luck. But I had the realization that I wanted control over my own destiny. I also figured I could do the work better on my own,” says Jose. “I had some NRI connections and the plots I acquired were all sold out except one that was in a corner of the land in which nobody showed any interest. So I thought of my own construction there and drew a plan suiting that area. Amazingly, it worked.” That was the spark that lighted the way ahead of his life. Though he fully knew that the construction field was a challenge, destiny willed otherwise. “The diploma courses I did helped me a lot in many ways. Even now they do. Whenever a problem arose either in the electric circuit or in the plumbing department, I used to solve it. I have myself created a strategy of solving problems myself according to my logic during crucial times. It is because of that I have an overall idea about all activities in my business,” says Jose. The strategy he has developed includes ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

professional ethics and responsibility and regularity, which accounts for his success. Customers have seen in him honesty and they trust him. Unlike other construction companies, his project was small and a crawling one during the prerecession period though he managed to grow with the industry. “In fact, it was the recession that helped my business to become a top player in the industry. Later I noticed, much before the news hit local newspapers, that something was brewing in the financial sector and it would affect not only the big fishes but small ones too.” The business then had not developed to the extent it has now. Jose had foreseen the impact the crisis would have on the industry. He decided to tackle the menace in his own way. “One day I called a meeting of all the staff and elaborated on the impending disaster the financial sector was going to face and its likely impact on the construction sector. I told them that I planned some strategies for surmounting the possible threat. I said I was not going to sack anyone but if anyone wished to leave, they were free to do so. I reminded them of the consequences if they wished to continue with the company, such as delayed salary and all. To my surprise, everybody was ready to jump with me to the trench.” During the crisis, he cut some of the benefits his staff had been enjoying. This stringent measure, however, did not tire him and the staff. His view was to stay afloat in the tsunami while others were drowning in it and to reap the benefit after it subsided. And he scrupulously stuck to his decision. “During the meltdown, major players in the industry were seen shrinking their activities. They even cut expenses of their offices. But I maintained a middle-way tactic: I never showed the public any scarcity of resources. When the bubbles blew, we concentrated on outside projects rather than on in-house ones, which helped us build a good image among the public.” The recession was also an image-building time for Jose. He could grab the attention of the customers by completing the project on time. Consequently, when the financial sector came back to normal, he had a handful of customers in his database. The projects began to flourish, and he had to be with them almost throughout day and night. “In the post-recession period, enquiries poured in because of the trust people had reposed in me. I was fully involved in the activities of the ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

projects as I knew the entire field, from piling to furniture work of a villa. I used to visualize the entire project. It would take about six months, visualizing different dimensions of the project before the work officially starts. For example, I visualize how a villa in the dawn looks like, what changes it absorbs in the afternoon and how the facilities work out during the night. I have always come out with a solution whenever there are any crucial issues regarding projects and their implementation.” Jose has to find a solution to every problem related to his projects. He used to examine the landscape of a villa, the water that would come from upside and where it should be diverted and the security alarm system and the facility to reach a security man when there is an emergency. He calls himself a “Jack-of-all-Trades and ’Master of None’. He always encourages his staff to do things independently and bring out innovative ideas that are inherent in them. “I let my staff independently work in diverse fields so that they could bring in their ideas. I used to tell them that if there is any problem that cannot be solved by them they should report it to me. I also take special care to ingrain in them the confidence they need.” All the staff in his concern are liable to do different jobs for a short period. It is his strategy to make them aware of the different fields. “If someone who is important for a particular job is absent on a day, another person should be able to do it. This is what I expect from my staff. All employees should acquire basic knowledge of different fields of activity. After recruitment, candidates are not straightaway allowed to do a particular job. They have to undergo a 20-day training course to become familiar with the system that the company has adopted. The candidates should pass a test after the training and only afterwards will they be allowed to do work. And I am satisfied that all my staff are cooperative with my rules and regulations”. Jose thus seems to make sure that his employees are equal to the challenge of growth and that they don’t succumb to the complacency that comes with success. His wish? To see his construction company becoming one of the biggest in the country, like DLF, not in terms of revenue but volume. Here is an ordinary man with extraordinary abilities in the construction sector. His entrepreneurial capability and the experience he has acquired through relentless effort have made him a man of business on a par with an IIM graduate.



KM literature on KM, including books and journals. The Strategic Management journal published a special issue on KM in 1996.The year 1998 saw the launch of the Journal of Knowledge Management. Management consultancies (like KPMG and Ernst & Young) contributed their part by conducting KM surveys (KMPG, 1998) and recognizing leaders in KM (MAKE, 1998) among organizations. At the organizational level, many firms appointed a Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO), akin to a Chief Financial Officer and Chief Information Officer. The academia also witnessed the appointment of a ‘Professor of Knowledge’ in the University of California. Thus, KM emerged as a discipline in itself. According to Gamble and Blackwell (2001), KM draws from a wide range of disciplines and technologies including cognitive science, expert systems, library and information science, organizational science and network technology.

KM: A Brief History •

KM Research Group, IIT Madras


he term ‘Knowledge Management’ (KM) was coined in 1986 by Karl Wiig at a conference in Switzerland. “Knowledge Management is a systematic, explicit and deliberate building, renewal and application of Knowledge to maximize expertise knowledgerelated effectiveness—returns from its Knowledge assets,” he stated. But, it was the work of Nonaka (1991) which put KM on the map of management literature. Nonaka emphasized the need for organizations to become what he called ‘knowledge creating companies’. He suggests that successful companies are those that consistently create a new knowledge, disseminate it widely throughout the organization and quickly embodies it in new technologies and products. His work drew inspiration from the KM practices of firms like Matsushita and Canon. Karl Wiig is credited with the writing of the first book published on KM in 1993. Expanding on the theme of ‘knowledge-creating company’. Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) produced a classic work on KM. It was this work coupled with the work of Leonard-Barton (1995) that triggered the KM ‘revolution’. While Nonaka viewed organizations as ‘knowledgecreating companies, Leonard-Barton viewed them as ‘wellsprings of knowledge’. The KM practices of Chaparral Steel inspired the work of Leonard-Barton. Post-1995, there has been literally an explosion in the


How have organizations benefited from KM? Many organizations have benefited from designing and implementing KM practices in their businesses and the literature is replete with success stories of organizations worldwide. Skryme (2001) opines that there are a number of cases where better understanding and management of knowledge has brought demonstrable bottomline benefits. For example, Texas Instruments saved the cost of a new semiconductor plant by sharing best practices; British Petroleum reduced the time to bring a new oil well on stream through sharing learning across oil fields. He adds that virtually every organization has good examples of KM practice, even if they are called something different. Firms including Xerox, Hewlett Packard, Ernst and Young, McKinsey, Buckman Labs, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, British Petroleum, the World Bank, NASA, Infosys, Wipro and Tata Steel have reported to have increased the effectiveness and the efficiency in their existing businesses through KM. Firms like DoW Chemicals, Scandia, Monsanto, AT&T, Chaparrals Steel, Matsushita and Honda have benefited from KM by creating new business and avenues for growth. Researchers observe that there is a good repertoire of cases in which KM has been clearly demonstrated to save cost, improve customer service, shorten time to market new products and a whole host of other visible benefits. Dawon Port Et AL (1998) in their survey of KM projects in organizations belonging to a variety of industries (pharmaceutical, chemical, software, electronics etc) observe that KM has helped this organization in achieving a host of benefits including improved product development, improved access expertise and knowledge, reducing the mistakes made and ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

KM improved efficiency in processes. Thus KM has proved to be a field of interest both for managers and researchers. Why KM? Individuals, organizations and nations have been managing knowledge for millennia. It is only in recent times that researchers and managers have realized the need for ‘conscious’ and ‘purposeful’ management of knowledge. Hence, the focus has shifted from managing knowledge embodied in various forms (like products, processes, patents, procedures and in people) to managing knowledge itself as a resource and a capability .The reasons for this shift can be attributed to reasons within and outside organizations. The former includes the following: Products and Services): • Increasing number and variety of products in the product portfolio, shortened product life cycles (emphasizing the greater need for continuous innovation in the form of new product development), pressure for improving the quality of products through added functional capabilities, greater emphasis on speed to market and the increasing need for differentiation of the product and service offerings. Processes: • In spite of the long history of management experience, firms repeat their past mistakes. • The ignorance of employees of the knowledge available in their firm (and outside) has led to constant reinvention of the wheel and resulted in costly mistakes. For instance, AT&T paid $79,000 for a document which was available inside their organization. • Firms (especially MNCs) are grappling with the issue of ;islands of excellence’- a situation where, in the same domain of operation, they find superior performance (of individuals/teams/units) in one part of the organization and mediocre performance standards in another. • Organizations have woken up to the fact that a large portion of their past knowledge (lying in various forms like patents, product designs, project reports) which could be of value to their own operations or other organizations is left unutilized. Dow Chemicals, for instance, earned millions of dollars in revenue by licensing their patents which were lying unutilized for many years. Employees: • With the increasing knowledge intensity in businesses (especially, in the service sector), organizations have realized that their survival depends on the capabilities of their ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011


employees. This has emphasized the need for tapping their tactical knowledge and retaining them in the organization. As organizations grow, the number and the geographic spread of employees also have increased. These have resulted in two challenges: (1) managing knowledge erosion due to employee attrition and (2) integrating the ‘distributed’ knowledge because of the geographic spread of the employees.

Organization: • The nature and scope of organizations themselves have changed. Collaboration is the norm today, especially in multinational companies. The changes in organizational structures coupled with collaboration pose challenges for organizing knowledge. • Multi-unit organizations and MNCs have increasingly realized that unless they are able to ‘globalize’ their ‘local’ learning and knowledge, they cannot beat the competition. • The statement “If I knew what TI knows“ by Jerry Junkins (the late CEO, Texas Instruments) highlights the crux of the challenges faced by organizations. Lew Platt, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, echoed the same when he said, “If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times as profitable”. This further indicates the benefits that organizations stand to gain by properly managing their knowledge. The following are some of the external reasons for the need and popularity of KM:Products and Services: • The ‘knowledge component’ of many products has increased over the past decade. Many knowledge-based products (like smart cards) and knowledge-based services (like consulting and advertising) have emerged strongly. Customers: • Customers have become more demanding than ever. The experience of management consulting firms is a point in case. Many customers felt that since consulting firms have a wide range and years of experience dealing with problems cutting across several industries, they demanded ‘more bang for their buck’. Thus, consulting firms were forced to adopt KM and leverage their collective knowledge to enhance the quality of problem-solving and exceed customer expectations. • Firms (especially, in the service sector) have realized that they have been neglecting one of the most important sources of new knowledge, namely, their customers! Technology: • Information and communications Technologies (ICTs) and the interest have contributed to many possibilities of managing Information and Knowledge. Competition • Increasing competition in many markets has forced organizations to either reduce their cost or differentiate their products/services and also increase their rate of innovation. There is a growing recognition among managers that the only way to build core competence and differentiate themselves is through knowledge.



Rajeshwari Victor Rajeshwari Victor Last corporate assignment: Vice-President - Marketing and Branding, Novatium Solutions Currently Professor and Head of the Department, Marketing, Retail and International Management, Chennai Business School Author of My Life, My Choice published by Macmillan

What they don’t

Teach you in college…


t the outset, let me confess that this article is not about finding fault with our educational system. In fact, it is quite the opposite: it is intended to complement those aspects that our higher educational system is known to do well, such as analytical thinking and theoretical bases. But I believe that even within the business context, these are not enough for any student to feel well equipped and confident as they step into the professional world. There are other related aspects that they need to pick up in order for them to be effective at work. This article attempts to address some of those: How to deal with money: As a college graduate, our initial decisions may largely be driven by money: finding a job, zeroing in on savings or an investment plan, EMI calculations for the house etc. But we are seldom taught ‘how to deal with money’. Or even the philosophy behind money. There should be workshops on how to deal with debt, how to read and understand contract terms and how to reduce debt while in college. This should be accompanied by individual debt counseling to help students choose the best terms on student loans they have to open during college, adjust to tuition increases, and prepare for how their loan situation will change once they graduate. But that’s not all students should learn in school. The average school should teach students how to set budgets, rent apartments, buy cars, and make other big financial decisions on an informed basis. Students should learn how to tell how much they need to live on, how to negotiate salaries and increases and how to read financial statements. How to turn one’s passion into career: Beyond just finding a secure job when we graduate-and some colleges’ alumni interfaces are quite good at this-there should be some emphasis on how to turn your passion into a career. To answer this, one must first learn to discern one’s passion area. Passion is that which catches our attention all the time, but we may still be quite unaware of it from a ‘career’ perspective. It is that we spend time doing, thinking about or following in our free time. It could be sports, literature, cooking-almost anything. But to be able to turn it into our career requires courage, self-belief and discipline. In my book My Life, My Choice-on midlife career choices-I have talked about what it takes to convert passion into a career. The initial stages of doing that will be tough-as the gratification (apart from the sheer joy of pursuing it) in terms of money or recognition which may be delayed. But you need to keep at it as it is in the area of your passion that will enjoy learning the most. In fact one of the tests of passion is how tenacious you can be while pursuing it. Some degree programmes by themselves translate better into careers than others. Students going into law, medicine or technology may not need much help, but what about the student who wants to be an artist, writer or an entrepreneur? For many, the path to a truly fulfilling career isn’t as clear. Colleges should offer more hands-on classes on how to create a


career from what you really like to do. Many students, particularly those in the humanities, wind up in office positions they never wanted because they can’t figure out how to translate a passion for English literature or painting into financial success. And the bug bites them later in their midlives when they realize that ‘money alone does not make them happy.’ It is one’s own passion that is converted into a fulltime job that makes you feel ‘less at work’ and ‘more at service’. How to network: Recently I attended a course in one of the premier institutes on ‘Networking’. It was a part of the doctoral programme and I must say that I found that course the MOST RELEVANT amongst the list of courses that I had enrolled for! After spending around 16 years in corporate life, I cannot overemphasize the need for networking as a tool to obtain success. But few are naturally skilled at it. For others, it’s a struggle. Students should realize that no matter how introverted they are, they need to stop looking at networking as an act of ‘subservience’ and start seeing it as a necessary tool that will help them get ahead in life. How to set goals and manage time: By far this is the most frequent activity that working professionals do. In fact their life revolves around it. While exams and projects try to simulate it to some extent, there has to be a further conscious effort on the colleges’ part to make students understand the importance of it. This can be done by making students part of corporate meetings where decisions are being taken and implementation is followed up. Of course this will require for the colleges to be well networked with corporate houses and this is where the governing body or the top brass of the educational institutions play a crucial role. ‘Education’ is derived from the origin ‘educate’, meaning ‘learn at leisure’. College life is the final stepping-stone before the students embrace independent adult life. Hence a combination of identifying ‘important issues’ such as the above and training students on them should be an agenda for the institutions. Critical thinking should be encouraged though all this is for students to find answers themselves. All these will hopefully turn out individuals who are better prepared to face the real world and take responsibility for their lives. ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011



AISAT is Poised to Achieve Technical Excellence Albertian Institute of Science and Technology (AISAT) is the output of years of educational service and an established tradition in the educational field by the followers of the Archdiocese of Verapoly which has a four-century-old experience in providing educational service. AISAT is expected to serve the Albertian institutions as their stepping stone to achieving the goal of the first Christian university


lbertian educational institutions constitute some of the largest educational organizations in Kerala under the Roman Catholic Latin Christian minority initiated by the Archdiocese of Verapoly, which has a strong track record of centuries-old educational service. The Archdiocese of Verapoly has 128 schools, three ITCs, six training schools and six colleges. In this huge education tree, the Albertian educational institutes constitute a vital branch. St Albert’s College, Albertian Institute of Management (AIM), St Paul’s College, St Teresa’s College, St Xavier’s College and Albertian Institute of Science and Technology (AISAT) are the Albertian educational initiatives. “To be the largest educational organization under the Archdiocese of Verapoly to provide quality education in all fields and finally conceptualize our dream of being the first Christian university in the education sector is our motto. For achieving this goal, AISAT will be a milestone with excellence in professional technical education,” Rev Fr Clement Valluvassery, Manager, Alberian institutes, told Asian Educator. AISAT is of course a new Albertian venture; but definitely a sound one. It has been offering BTech courses from the 2011 academic year. Spread over a picturesque 12-acre site at Kalamassery in Ernakulam district in Kerala. AISAT is surrounded by the Cochin University of Science and Technology in its west, St Paul’s Arts and Science College at the north, St Joseph’s School in the south and St John of God Church in the east; indicating that it is located in a challenging educational hub. Being a new technical education centre, AISAT has taken all measures to provide the best infrastructure to students. The campus is designed ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Rev Fr Clement Valluvassery

in a way which promises world-class education. Having All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) accreditation, AISAT is affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University and offers mainly five BTech courses and a Basic Science and Humanities Course. The specializations are in Civil, Computer Science, Electrical, Electronics and Communication and Mechanical Engineering. The facilities include a well-equipped workshop and labs, a modern library with subscription to international e-journals, Wi-Fi campus, state-of-the-art smart classrooms, cafeteria, hostel, sports and recreation facilities and transportation for students and staff. Special attention has been given to the development of soft skills and career development. AISAT is the output of years of educational service and an established tradition in the educational field by the followers of the Archdiocese of Verapoly which has a four-century-old experience in providing educational service. This tradition has equipped AISAT with the expertise needed to equal and excel any other leading technical institution. AISAT is expected to serve the Albertian institutions as their stepping stone to achieving the goal of the first Christian university. The governing body headed by The Rev Dr Francis Kallarakal and Academic Advisory Council headed by Emeritus Professor Dr M. V. Pylee, former Vice-Chancellor of Cusat, shows that the college is poised to achieve administrative as well as academic excellence.



Noble Mission to Serve Humanity through Education Karunya University is a shrine committed to raising a generation of socially responsible young graduates. It is a kind of compassion that is being injected into students to make them noble persons to serve humanity through education


s the name itself denotes (‘karunya’ means compassion), Karunya University (KU) is a shrine committed to raising a generation of socially responsible young graduates. It is a kind of compassion that is being injected into students to make them noble persons to serve humanity through education. Thus the vision of the institution is to be a university with a social concern which will address the problems of humanity through teaching, research and extension in socially relevant areas. It has succeeded in inculcating among its students human values through spiritual discernment along with their academic courses. Karunya University was founded with this noble vision of raising professionals and leaders of high academic calibre and unblemished character, nurtured with a strong motivation and commitment to serve humanity. It is an institution that very well adheres to the values of Christian


faith. Because of this, Karunya is outstanding among similar universities. There are several other Christian minority institutions in India, but Karunya is the only

one that holds the status of a Christian minority university in the country. It was the late Dr D G S Dhinakaran who in 1981 envisaged the starting of a technical university which could turn out outstanding engineers with leadership qualities at the national and global level. Building such a great institution was no easy task. The Dhinakarans

had to face innumerable trials and tribulations including the tragic death of their dear daughter during the course of this great endeavour. But nothing could stop them from reaching their goal. The Karunya Institute of Technology was started as a private self-financing engineering college on October 4, 1986. In

ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011



SO UE IQ UN 2004, the institute was awarded the Deemedto-be University status in recognition of its academic excellence by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development and subsequently renamed Karunya University. In order to accomplish its vision, Karunya University is committed to transforming lives through imparting faithful education to raise undergraduate and postgraduate students and research scholars to serve humanity by attaining high levels of academic excellence, professional competence, exemplary values and spiritual empowerment. It is also finding solutions to human problems in areas relating to water, food, healthcare and energy through scientific, social and technological research as well as policy formulation. Besides, it strives to set up care homes for physically and mentally challenged as well as the elderly and the terminally ill

ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

to enable the students to understand human needs and pain by participating in the services rendered to them on campus and thus to dedicate themselves to work towards solving those problems through research, development, policymaking at high levels or through providing spiritual care. Karunya University is into its 25th year of service in higher

education with specific focus on Engineering and Technology. In the short span of its existence, it has moved swiftly ahead to carve a niche for itself as an institution promoting all-round excellence. In a nutshell, Karunya is a co-educational, fully residential technological university imparting holistic education to develop the body, mind and spirit of the students. The university is giving special care to ensure that the students get highly advanced equipment and facilities. It also provides internationally competing infrastructure to its students. The University Computer Technology Centre offers world-class computing facility to the Karunya community. The computing resources include advanced servers and powerful workstations. The Central Library is well equipped with modern facilities and resources

in the form of CDROM, online databases, e-journals, e-books, audio-video cassettes, books, journals and project reports to name a few. The mission of the library is to provide information services and access to bibliographical and full text digital and printed resources to support the scholarly and informational needs of the institute’s user community. It has 12 hostels, which are under the administrative control of the Director (Student Residences), who is a Professor of this university. All the hostels facilitate harmonious, friendly living among students of various states inculcating selfdiscipline. The hostels should serve as a training ground for a responsible, successful and useful life through development of the body, mind and soul.





ree Narayana Gurukulam College of Engineering (SNGCE) is a new-age, multi-disciplinary institute offering a portfolio of courses in Engineering, Computer Applications and Management streams. Ensuring the right blend of academic rigour and business focus of industry, the institution has transformed itself into a trend-setter in professional education since 2002. Inspired by the tenet of Sree Narayana Guru, the social reformer and philosopher, “Organize and Strengthen, Educate and Enlighten”, Adv T A Vijayan, Executive Director of SNGCE, says that the institution is striving hard to achieve excellence by imparting professional education and cutting-edge enterprisewide knowledge to the youth, thereby enabling them to combat the challenges of industry. “With the never-ending source of inspiration of Sree Narayana Guru, our vision is to empower the masses to achieve economic and social freedom through technical and management education”, says Vijayan. “For us at the SNGCE, there is just one religion, imparting state- of-the-art world-class engineering and management education”. SNGCE prides itself on the creation of a congenial academic environment, conducive to learning on the strength of most modern infrastructural facilities and a highly-motivated and competent team of faculty


Enlightenment Through Education SNGCE has traversed a long way to the present since its inception. It has assumed multiple dimensions, both in the sphere of academics and in infrastructure. Today, it is conceded by all that it is one of the premier institutions for higher education in the state constantly endeavouring to mould world-class professionals of the future. The sincere efforts of the Gurukulam trust in creating state-of-the-art infrastructure, dedicated and highly qualified senior faculty, disciplined campus, opportunity for co-curricular activities, systematically developed procedures and processes and put emphasis on personal development of each student earned quick reputation for the institution. This, in turn, made it possible for it to achieve the coveted ISO 9001-2008 certification in 2009. “Perhaps, this is one among the few colleges in South India that provides high-profiled faculty. It is important for imparting high-quality education,” says Vijayan. “We are also striving to prepare our students for a career in industry, academia, R&D and government by developing the necessary technical capabilities and interpersonal skills in them”. SNGCE has traversed

a long way to the present since its inception. It has assumed multiple dimensions, both in the sphere of academics and in infrastructure. Today, it is conceded by all that it is one of the premier institutions for higher education in the state. The college is affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, and approved by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), New Delhi. SNGCE is the dream mission of S.N.D.P Yogam, Kunnathunadu Union, headquartered at Perumbavoor. The institution was initiated by a group of visionaries, with

the aim of upholding the ideals of Sree Narayana Guru (1855-1928), considered the leader of the Indian Renaissance movement. Its aim is to continually improve and excel at imparting curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular education and training to undergraduate engineering and postgraduate management students by synergizing state-of-the –art infrastructure and technology to achieve and sustain social acceptance and distinguishable goals for meeting the evergrowing challenges of technology, trade and industry.

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Healing through Medical Education Azeezia Medical College is a socially committed institution under the Podikunju Musaliar Memorial Charitable and Educational Trust in the Kollam district of Kerala. “We are actually a business family. We have been in the cashew industry for the last 30 years”, says Abdul Azeez, Chairman of the institution. A prominent figure in the Indian cashew industry, Abdul Azeez has made remarkable contributions to industry and business internationally. It was to give concrete shape to his ideals that he founded the Podikunju Musaliar Memorial Charitable and Educational Trust. “As I said we have been in business for years and wanted to do something that could help society out of what we are gaining from our business. I know well how the medical sector is inaccessible to a section of the poor in the state. So I decided to do something for the sake of them as well as to make available medical education to all who have the required talent”, says Abdul Azeez . Under the trust, there are four institutions in the medical sector—Azeezia Medical College, Azeezia Dental College, Azeezia Nursing College and Azeezia Medical College Hospital. “I had endured a lot to get admission into a medical college for my first two children. The difficulty that I faced in getting them seats is one of the reasons that prompted me to set up a medical college,” he says The vision of the institution is to establish and maintain schools, colleges and vocational training centres, technical and professional institutions for providing quality education in the respective fields and for the development of the personality of the students who are backward in education in particular and to the public in general. Abdul Azeez’s family manages the activities of all the institutions since most members are doctors. His four sons graduated in diverse departments of medical science. They are ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

administering different departments. “My wife Hafzah along with my doctor sons looks after the administrative part of all the institutions.” Establishing research centres, laboratories and other institutions for undertaking research in various fields is the mission of their project. Besides, it intends to establish libraries for improving general knowledge and awareness among people in all parts of the country. Scholarships, awards, grants and loans to deserving students to pursue their studies are being arranged. Social activities such as welfare programmes for the handicapped and the setting up of old-age homes for the welfare of the aged are among the institutes’ mission. Another mission is to undertake the rehabilitation of weaker sections of society, especially women, by giving them vocational training which will enable them to look after themselves and make them independent members of society. ”We aim to evolve into a learning institution of excellence, redefining quality education and research opportunities to create better doctors for the future. We have already made a platform for crafting a work culture for the development of our human resources,” says Azeez.

Azeezia Medical College is a socially committed institution under the Podikunju Musaliar Memorial Charitable and Educational Trust in the Kollam district of Kerala




ai Bharath Educational Foundation promotes several world-class professional institutions offering graduate and postgraduate programmes under the self-financing scheme with the guidance of eminent personalities from different walks of life. Though officially the group was founded in 2002; the idea had been with the founders since 1992. “Our father and fellow members had started Cochin Public School in 1992. Our motto was to provide quality education”, says A M Karim, Manager of the Jai Bharath Group. The foundation has today become one of the leading promoters of academic institutions in Kerala. The vision of the group, Karim says, is to groom world-class managers for total problems solutions. It is also a committed attempt generating academic excellence, producing students with the ability to think critically and creatively to become technologyliterate and to communicate effectively, he says. “We are also committed to empowering our students with innovative and techno-savvy learning, teaching, mentoring, peer and co-interaction, experiential learning, industrial visits, yoga, meditation and a variety of personal development programmes for the realization of the abundant potential of individuals”, Karim says. Jai Bharath envisages creating a teaching and researchoriented institution of higher


Jai Bharath for Shaping Creative Young Men Jai Bharath envisages creating a teaching and research-oriented institution of higher learning. It provides the needs of the students to pursue their education goals, facilities to determine the direction of their profession and a respectable position in the community and society learning. It provides the needs of the students to pursue their education goals, facilities to determine the direction of their profession and a respectable position in the community and society. It aims to explore, develop and apply human and technological capabilities for the benefit of the regional, national and international community. One of the key facilities that it provides distinguishes it from other institutions: trained faculty and industry-moulded heads of departments. “We have here a Principal, who is a nationally famous figure and the former Dean of NIT Calicut. Moreover, the heads of departments are also people of proven talent in their respective fields and are all from different fields of industry,” Karim says. The Jai Bharath Group consists of Jai Bharath College of Management & Engineering Technology,

Jai Bharath Training College, KMM College of Arts & Science, Jai Bharath School of Management Studies and Jai Bharath Institute for Community Development and Research. Jai “We ignite the creativity of generations through knowledge transformation by facilitating a lifelong learning process and provide high-quality creative ideas through knowledge transformation to students. We are committed to providing the students with the best facilities to develop their mind, body, intellect and

soul,” Karim says. KMM College of Arts & Science is the newest shoot of Jai Bharath Educational Foundation. Jai Bharath institutions are owned and managed by Jai Bharath Trust, Kochi, Kerala and affiliated to M.G University. Jai Bharath Institute for Community Development and Research (JBICDR) is established with the objectives of doing research and development activities in the area of rural and urban community development.

ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011



I was a journalist with some leading publications for over five years and then shifted to technical writing. Since then I have been managing TechnoPoint and providing effective training and documentation services to corporates as well as students,” says Anita Sadashiv, Director, TechnoPoint. She has been the person responsible for making TechnoPoint what it is today— the leading technical writing institute in India offering highend training and documentation services. Launched in August 2003 as a training centre focused on imparting quality training for aspiring and qualified technical writers to enhance their skills, TechnoPoint has since come a long way in serving students and clients. It is the first technical writing training centre in Bangalore and first in India to initiate classroom training for instructional design. “Over 1,500 students have successfully completed our different technical writing and instructional designing courses. We have helped in placing them in reputed companies like Infosys, SAP Labs, TCS, Integra Microsystems, Lucent Technologies and Wipro, among others, says Anita. TechnoPoint also provides extensive technical writing and Instructional Design training to corporates so that they can work more effectively. The institution’s Professional Certification Programmes will certify the level of technical expertise. Each Certification Programme involves the successful completion of the entire course. The members of the management team at TechnoPoint believe that it is their mission to lead the technical writing fraternity in India by offering high-end training in technical writing. Besides ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Creating Techie-Journos Anita Sadashiv, Director, TechnoPoint has been the person responsible for making TechnoPoint what it is today—the leading technical writing institute in India offering high-end training and documentation services imparting quality training they also offer resources to write, illustrate and edit product documents. The training programmes are so robust that all the people who attend them diligently see an immense increase in their market value. Instructional Design is fast emerging as a career that is in great demand in corporate companies. The power of the internet has opened up the potential in this sector and to a large extent the Instructional Design technology is being used to develop computer-based and web-based content. Companies are realizing that it is now possible to develop highly interactive and user-friendly tools to transfer knowledge and conduct in-house training. Instructional Design

requires development of learning material using learning theories and instructional strategies to ensure quality of design, delivery and effectiveness of transfer of learning to intended outcomes. Corporate training, a focus for all forward looking companies, has

now become a powerful tool to impact the bottom line, with improved business performance. Here is where the services of IDs come in handy. This again is a field ideal for nonengineers to set-up a promising career in the IT sector.



Sajeev Nair

Do It Now One morning a well-known scientist was reading the newspaper. To his surprise he found his own obituary in it. Though he was shocked, out of curiosity he read it. It said, “The dynamite king has passed away….

Thoughts lead to Actions, Actions lead to Habits, Habits lead to Character and Character leads to Destiny’. Any habit can influence your destiny. Any action repeated knowingly or unknowingly becomes a habit. Also I have mentioned that though practice may not make anything perfect, practice makes anything permanent. In short whatever we practise, good or bad, knowingly or unknowingly, becomes our habit. If you practise honesty, it becomes a habit and you will be known as honest; if you always do what you say and always say what you do, it becomes a habit and people will see a character in you; namely integrity. If you keep today’s work for tomorrow, tomorrow’s work will be kept for the next day: then it becomes a habit. Procrastination is a habit, not just a habit, a bad habit. As any habit decides your character, procrastination becomes instrumental in forming some characters. Others will start forming opinions about you as a person who is unreliable, not trustworthy, not serious about the work, not dependable etc. These become major roadblocks in your career. When you reach your office late or when you fail to complete the work on time or when you reach for a meeting late you are cutting a sorry figure in front of others. When these become a habit you will start feeling bad about yourself. What you feel about yourself is your ‘self-image’. Hence all the above-mentioned actions lead to a very poor self-image. You will lose your confidence and hence your performance will be affected. The bad news is that procrastination is a habit and hence it is not easy to change. The good news is that though it is not easy to change a habit, you can change any habit if you really want to change. Remember, whatever you practise consistently becomes your habit. Hence we need to practise a new habit, called, “Do It Now”. Why & How Any habit can be changed or a new habit created only if you know why you want to change and how to change. The most important is ‘why’. Begin with an End in Mind One morning a well-known scientist was reading the newspaper. To his surprise he found his own obituary in it. Though he was shocked, out of curiosity he read it. It said, “The dynamite king has passed away….he was the merchant of death”. The scientist was none other than Alfred Nobel, the inventor of the dynamite. Though it was a mistake by the newspaper (it was his brother who had died) it was an eyeopener for Alfred Nobel. He realized how the world would remember him once he leaves this world. He decided that he should be remembered as a person who stood for peace not for war and death. He took ‘Peace on Earth’ as his mission and that became the genesis of the Nobel Prize for Peace. The question is how you want to be known. Most of the people don’t know what they want to achieve in their life. They don’t have any plan in their life. Remember, ‘people never


plan to fail, they fail to plan’. What can a person who doesn’t know what is to be achieved plan? Hence the first thing is to set some goals in your life. You need to set some long-term goals. “Where I want to be by 2015”, “How I see myself after five years, my possessions and positions”, “By 2020 what do you want to provide for your family, for your children, for society?” Write down some clear time-bound goals. Inch by inch everything is a synch. ‘How do you eat an elephant?’…..One bite at a time. You can achieve your long-term goals only by fragmenting them to short-term goals and achieving them. There should be monthly goals, weekly goals and daily goals. You can get out of procrastination and start practising ‘do it now’ if you have clearly defined yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. Identify Your Roles Roles represent our responsibilities. In movies you may have seen double roles. But tell me in your life how many roles you take at the same time. At home you may have to take the role of a father, role of a husband, son, brother etc. At your workplace you may have to take the role of a supervisor, subordinate, colleague etc. The most successful person is one who does the maximum number of roles and performs in each role at his best. Hence we need to learn how to balance our life. Only if you are clear about your various roles and how best you can perform in these roles can you set and achieve goals in each area of life. Through my workshops titled ‘Life Leadership’, which I conduct based on these roles and goals, several people have realized the importance of finding the roles and setting goals in each role. Mahatma Gandhi said, “One man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other compartment. Life is an indivisible whole” Prioritize or Perish Once you are clear about the various roles you are playing in your life, you need to decide what is the greatest thing you can do in this particular role this week to get the best results. Most of us are busy doing the urgent things; in the process we forget about important things. When you prioritize, remember this principle, ‘Minor things should not be done at the mercy of major things’. Sajeev Nair is a successful first generation entrepreneur, internationally renowned life-coach, author and philanthropist. You can connect with him on or ASIAN EDUCATOR I September 2011

Asian Educator  

Magazine on Education

Asian Educator  

Magazine on Education