Showing posts from October, 2014

Conversation 20: My Own Asia Pivot

Time to make up my mind! By 2015, I wish to complete a very personal 'pivot' to Asia.  I am one to dream but not set up goals. I like serendipities, chance connections, even drift. And, life has so far been exciting, full of unexpected twists and gifts, full of meeting great people at unexpected places. I have done crazy things and got away, more than once! I have moved from one continent to another, gone back to school and started businesses. I have lived knife's edge as well as creatively and contently, at the same time. And, now, it is time for me to conjure up my next big thing.  I went to England exactly 10 years ago because I wanted to have experience. This I certainly have had. Many things changed - I have got wiser by making many mistakes - and I feel prepared now to graduate out of this 'prep' phase and do something significant. Which, in a way, means doing less things than more. I have lived a life of drift for a while, primarily because

Studying Global Education

I study global education.  However, I am not one of those who are studying transnational education and the rise and fall of international student mobility. Or, for that matter, not one who believe that the world has become truly flat and the phenomenon global education is about the creation of huge global multinational educational institution(s).  For me, the study of global education is the quest for an idea, a study in the tension between the idea of unity of all human knowledge and the essentially local nature of all human activities. In a way, my obsession with global education reflects an interest in direct opposition to the globalisers: I use education as a sector where the global-local tension is perhaps the most prominent, and I want to learn the underlying intellectual history of the idea of global education. This, I acknowledge, means many things, but I believe the essentially technocratic obsession with the 'tools' of global education - institutional pa

Would India Beat China?

The mantra of the new Prime Minister of India is 'Make in India'. His economic policy hinges on getting Indian manufacturing going, to get to the double-digit growth figures that he would need to deliver his promise of 'development'. And, indeed, this is what it should be: India will need to create 10 million non-farm jobs every year at least through the next decade, to absorb the new people entering the workforce productively. Service industries, for all their glamour, do not employ as many people as manufacturing does (at least in theory) and therefore, Mr Modi must steal some of China's thunder and try to make India world's next manufacturing base. In many ways, this new economic policy is modelled on China. The focus is on investment in infrastructure, reform of labour laws (which means deregulation and reduction of power of the organised labour), making land acquisitions easier for industrial development etc., all the things that China has done with g

Education Innovation: Where Is The 'Venturesome' Learner?

One key insight about the process of innovation, provided by Amar Bhide of Tufts University, is that we tend to focus too much on the supply side of innovation, and less on the demand side of it. When we talk about the rise of Silicon Valley, or any such innovation success story, the stories focus usually on the great innovators and entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, incubators and other aspects of the innovation ecosystem: We tend to play down, however, the consumers who tried out those innovations, those early people who ordered on Amazon, tried out Webvan, embraced eBay and Google. The central point of Professor Bhide's argument is that we should go beyond the usual narrow view of the innovation ecosystem. And, this is not about consumer co-creation, or open innovation, which, despite their appeal in management literature, remain quite rare; the point is whether the wider economy is ready to embrace innovation.  As we prepare for the London event on Education Innovation (

Making Humanities Relevant: Ideas About Applied Humanities

Humanities subjects are usually derided for their lack of practical application, yet those who studied humanities, like me, would vouch for its ability to inspire curiosity and develop judgement. Compared to many other disciplines where there may be one absolute answer to every question (though the point of education is to discover that there is no such thing), humanities often deal with judgment and opinions, abilities that we most often call upon in solving complex problems. Besides, in a world where the nature of fast evolving – from process-based to creative work – a good humanities education may be enormously helpful in equipping the leaders of the future. However, this is not to argue that nothing has to change in humanities education, which is often delivered without regard to these changes that I just mentioned, and commonly in resentment to it. The idea I am working on is to design and deliver a humanities programme connecting it better to the goals such as employabil

Independence for Kolkata!

Kolkata is India's third largest city, its former capital and a desperately poor one. It is home for me, and whatever I write about it - and I keep writing about it - is never impartial. I can see, like everyone else, its broken politics, its stilted society, its broken infrastructure: However, if there is one city I would live in if all my wishes are granted, it will be Kolkata. This is indeed more about me than about the City, which has perhaps changed far more than I did, despite my life abroad and all that. However, this is more than nostalgia: I have never been a resident of Kolkata, living all my life in a suburb, and while I went to college in the city, I didn't know the city that well till fairly late in my life. And, this is not about its culture, which most Kokata residents are intensely proud of: While my cultural identity remains irredeemably Bengali and linked to Kolkata, I am also aware of the deep conservatism and class consciousness that pervades the Kolkata s

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