Showing posts from June, 2013

The Story in Person: Reflections and Interests

I feel most elated when I am most depressed. My default mode is optimism, indeed. Without it, I can't keep indulging on the big hairy projects that I always keep doing. But optimism does not necessarily preclude feeling dejected, as there are invariably times when things look tough. The point, I have now come to believe, is not to expect anything to be an easy sail, and worked out an operating method: I don't sit at home and don't worry because things are going alright, but equally, I don't sit at home and worry when they don't. In summary, my optimism isn't about seeing a rosy picture of the world, but believing that I can work my way out of any trouble. One would suspect, correctly, that I am writing about all this because setting up a new business has been demanding. I had persistently spoken about setting up a network of learning centres, which uses technology to link together teachers, learners and employers. If I attempt to determine since when I am a

Why does Indian Higher Education need Foreign Investment?

In India, the Higher Ed talk is about big numbers: The policy makers talk of millions of graduates and hundreds of universities. The never-ending debate about Foreign Investment in Higher Education is centred around the issue of capacity creation and the assumption that it can't be done with capital available in India. However, Indian Higher Education is going through a quiet crisis, and this must be taken into perspective and in reframing the debate. Suddenly, capacity does not seem to be a problem: Over the last five years, every day on average, 10 new institutions seem to have been created and 5000 new students have been offered a Higher Ed place, reckons Pawan Agarwal. However, despite this expansion, the system is still facing a crisis, one of confidence. In fact, despite all the excited projections about student numbers, seats are going empty. If there is a lack of appetite for education investment in India at the time, it is not because of the lack of money but because

Views from the Ground: Comparing Indian and Chinese Higher Ed

China is a vastly different country than India: If anyone has any doubts, she should try a train ride. In India, it would be, at best, a sleeper coach travelling at 70 miles an hour, with a 1960s feel about it; In China, it would be a bullet train travelling at 200 miles an hour, with a slightly futuristic ambiance. But the difference is more than that meets the eye: It is not just about efficiency, speed and technology, but also in what's behind all this, the deliberate hand of the government embedded everywhere. One train ride and one would know the essential aspect of comparing China and India: As Tarun Khanna put it in slightly different words, China works because of the Government and India, in spite of it. So it is even when we visited the 'private' Higher Education institutions in China, which we did during our visit last month. We visited three cities, Shanghai, Hefei and Hangzhou, and spoke, as is becoming the pattern of our visits, to employers, educators and s

India 2020: The Search for A Strong Leader

The times are confusing, uncertain. Despite all the advances in technology and sophistry in business, from the vantage point of a common man, it seems we are less in charge. All the solidity and continuity middle class life was associated with, is gone. In fact, one can feel that there is no point in being middle class anymore: Either you are climbing up, or you are falling behind.  At this time, we must find someone to save us, or in absence of hope, someone to blame. Therefore, with the rather bleak prospect of middle class life, we blame our leaders: In the exposed brutality of modern day existence, we feel exposed. We want to be led, told what to do: Therefore, we turn the discussion about ourselves into a discussion about leadership. We hide our weaknesses into a convenient search for a strong leader. But, who really is a strong leader? We have an impression of a man on horseback, with a faint suggestion of the charge of the light brigade. We want someone decisive, but do w

What's the Indian Higher Education Growth Story?

There is a lot of excitement about the expansion of Higher Education in India. A telling and oft-quoted statistic is that over the last five years, every day on average 5000 additional students were offered a place in a college and 10 new institutions have opened doors. Besides this, there are big macroeconomic trends, demography, urbanization and rising income, that point to big expansion of Higher Education. However, that's not what is happening. In fact, the opposite is true: Colleges are now closing in India. The whole sector seems to be feeling besieged: The public sector because of the lack of cash, the private sector because of the lack of students. Engineering seats, once a scarce commodity and objects of desire, are going vacant. Once mighty institutions, Osmania University in Hyderabad, Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu, Bengal Engineeering and Science University (formerly Bengal Engineering College) in West Bengal are shadows of their former self, mired in scandals

The Search for Employability

In a previous post , I questioned the notion of employability training as it is practised now. The subsequent discussion on Linkedin on the subject was illuminating. One of the contributors, Graham Doxey, who set up Neumont University in the US previously, had this to say (I quote him in full): "As you know Supriyo I have been addressing this very issue for over 10 years now. I am impressed with the insights that this conversation is drawing out. I have thought of responding to some very specifically, but there are now too many so I will have to consolidate my thoughts. With my co-founders at Neumont University we set out to address this problem specifically in regard to computer science education in 2002. I personally met with dozens if not hundreds of CEO's and corporate leaders to get their buy in on this new approach to CS education. We got these companies involved in the education process from the first semester with increasing involvement such that by the l

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