Showing posts from February, 2021

Right or Left? Figuring out the politics of 21st century

I am sparred into writing this post by a rather awkward exchange in a recent business meeting. I was there to discuss a project, but my client asked - before we discussed anything else - which side of the political divide I belong. The trigger was the emails that he regularly receives from a diaspora think-tank, where I serve as a trustee and which occasionally sends out emails in my name. Desperate to move on, I mumbled that in politics, I sit on the fence, though the fence is getting increasingly narrower. But I knew it was an inadequate answer: Fence-sitting is a poor excuse at a time of all-out war of ideologies! With reflection, however, I realise that this is indeed the right description of my political persuasion, though fence was a poor metaphor. This is because 'sitting on the fence' implies a lack of commitment, an opportunistic pandering of both sides. But that's not what I do: I am very much committed to my politics, though I may not buy into the labels of right

A dream without a door

  The two weeks of Covid, it seems, wiped my memory clean - but given me new ones. One of those is a dream - of the most feverish nights - in which I was in a room where all doors out led back into the same room again. Its mosaic floor was of the room I grew up in, back home in Kolkata; its door a white one like the one in Croydon; its windows showed nothing but an endless array of houses nearby, somewhat reminding me of a flat in Hyderabad where I spent some time. In the dream, I was forever trying to go out of the room and turning back up in it, again and again, even when I was not sleeping anymore. It was one of those that extend from sleeping to waking to sleeping back again, making me more desperate to escape in every turn. If I ever write a story about it, would I call it 'No Exit'? I thought about it later on, as I continue to limp back to normal life. The jarring point is the existence of the door though, a wide white-framed one, which was there for a reason. It was per

Robots are coming for Private Higher Ed

Robots are coming for private higher ed. It is usual to toast the rapid automation of work at investor conferences, in the hope that this would break the State monopolies on higher ed and usher in a new era of education innovation. What's left unspoken is that the public higher ed will eventually die, underfunded and unloved, under the sheer weight of its bureaucracy.  However, the collateral damage in this brave new world may not be public universities, the better of which are far better equipped to handle the coming of the Robots, but the private higher education that has grown rapidly worldwide over the last twenty years. Indeed, the same investors have billions of dollars at stake in private higher ed and wouldn't be pleased if the first casualty of the very disruption they celebrate costs them a bomb.  But this seems likely for two reasons. First, the impact of automation will be most felt in the jobs that involve narrow specialisations and process-based jobs, exactly the

Alternatives for India

India prides itself of its diversity, but lately it has decided to go monochrome. Suddenly, India's model is China, though no one would admit of it. Harmony, after all, is good for economic growth, goes the thesis. Therefore, Indian institutions - and the states - are being harmonised in the quest of economic growth. The protests, the cacophony of opinion, unmissable characteristics of Indian democracy for its first seventy years, are increasingly branded 'un-Indian' and pushed to the margins.  I am aware that my timing for bringing this up would immediately position this as a reaction of the farmer's protests and the Indian government's indifferent handling of the same. And, it is indeed something worth talking about : The lack of consultation and due process, the silence of most of the mainstream media, the underhand techniques used to undermine the credibility and even the Supreme Court's actions, indicate a total absence of space for alternative views. India

The trouble with career design

My current work involves the development of an employability programme. As I worked on it, I had a deja vú, an old idea really, which is worth posting about. Years ago, I discovered the obvious: That it's not easy to educate for employability. Not only education has a broader goal, which is often undermined when one narrowly focuses on the requirements of one industry or another, labour markets, particularly in the sectors which are technology-driven and globally connected, are notoriously fickle. Hence, I concluded then, that career planning for students is a pointless enterprise and instead, we should develop a design approach to career (see Career Design, not Career Planning and How to do Career Design ).  Indeed, since then and through different projects I participated into and many coversations I have had with people working in the field, my convictions have only deepened. In general, I think, we are accepting that all knowledge is provisional and our ability to predict the f

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