Archive for March, 2018

Indian Educational Reforms

March 30, 2018

In two recent issues of Times of India dated early March 2018, two reports caught my concern about the need for Educational Reforms in India, which I had already suggested as a citizen’s feedback to Modi Govt. way back in June 2014.

1.    The first news report is an interview with Romesh Wadhwani, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, who has worked for over a decade on promoting entrepreneurship and skilling in India through the Wadhwani Foundation. To quote him, “there’s a huge amount of work to be done in terms of job creation and job fulfilment. They are linked. The absence of skilled labour translates into the failure of companies to create jobs, because they can’t find skilled labour. So, they don’t invest in a new factory. I think supply creates its own demand if it is sufficiently skilled.”

He further says “If you think of skilling needs, they would fall into three buckets”. They are:

a. The base of the skilling pyramid; employability skills: which will include; the ability to communicate, some level of digital literacy, some level of project management, awareness of customer focus, self-directing and supervising one or two other people.

b. Sector and Domain skills; Provided by formal and informal training provided by Govt and private institutions on different industrial sectors and domains like, carpentry, masonry, Electricals, foundry, fabrication etc.

c. Last mile skilling; These are the skills required for a specific industrial and business process of the employer. This should be provided by the employer himself.

2.    The second news report by Times of India was from Tamil Nadu. As per the report there were 2 million applicants for the exam conducted across the state on February 11 by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC), seeking to fill 9,500 posts of typists, Village Administrative officers (VAO) and stenographers. Out of this 2 million applicants, there were 992 PhD holders, 23 thousand MPhil holders, 250 thousand post-graduates, while the qualification required was only a Class X pass.

The clamour for Govt. job is understandable with its large scope for inefficiency, non-accountability and corruption, associated with enormous benefits of salary and pension; but why would they get educated so much for a routine job which requires only class X pass. The main reason is, despite their education, the skill levels of most of them are so poor, they are not employable in any other industrial or business sectors. It is such an enormous waste of our educational infrastructure. Eventually, this educational system does not even produce teachers with acceptable levels of teaching skills, which contributes to further decay of educational infrastructure and skill levels of our youngsters.

Though all these facts are known to our Human Resource managers of Govt., Private and other Educational institutions, they hardly did anything about this, especially in the last 25 years. When the present BJP Govt. under our PM Modi took over in 2014, I had a sent to PM’s office a note, giving 10 areas where the new administration should concentrate. One of those areas was “Educational Reforms”.

I am extracting below from my write-up, dated June 2014 as a part of my blog.

I wrote:

Basically, there are four purposes of formal education: a) Literacy, b) Jobs, c) Professional Skills and d) Knowledge and Research. Let us see them in detail:

a) Literacy: It generally means ‘knowing to read and write’. But in the present days, it means more, like computer literacy, literacy with numbers, etc. One should have basic knowledge to deal with one’s own life as independently as possible. Everyone should have basic knowledge of banking, finance, health and hygiene and such other things. The syllabus should also include, Citizenship Training, Physical Training (Yoga), and Moral Science. This basic education should be achieved within the elementary/secondary school stage. This education is a must for all and we should aim for 100% ‘literacy’ in this sense. Hence such elementary/secondary schooling should be mass-based and should be very in-expensive, if not totally free, with incentives like mid-day meals etc.

b) Education for Jobs: The existing system of education introduced by British rulers serves this very well. At the end of this education, students are ready for taking up jobs, mainly clerical. They fill the need for support staff in any organization. With on-the-job training, some of them are able to rise further in their carrier. But still, depending on the type of business of the organization, their lack of professional skills sometimes lead to lack of passion in the process. Still we need these people, lots of them, in any organization. These are generally people who complete their high schools or preliminary college education. Many high schools will be required in every small towns and districts. Even night schools for self employed pupils will be necessary. If the school education is done purposefully, college education may not always be necessary for these kind of jobs. For those who have the initiative for learning more and improving their carrier, part-time college education should also be made available

c) Professional Skills: Professional skills may be imparted at different stages as listed below:

  • Those who have completed the ‘Literacy’ level education may branch off to skilled trades depending on their aptitude and family tradition. For example a jeweler’s son, if he wants to inherit his family trade, he may take up training on jewelry. Same thing with carpentry etc. But the training on these trades should be more formalized than just being hereditary. There should be authorized tradesman-ship certification, to enable them to commence their trade in any place. This is not to establish caste-based trades. On the contrary this kind of training and education will break this caste based trade systems, as anyone interested can take up this trade after proper training and certification. Can you think of a caste based electricians? Have you seen anybody asking for a certified mason or a plumber? Even if we look for some certified carpenter can we get one? No is the answer for all. Authorized Industrial Training Institutes established in every municipal area can offer such certified short-term courses. We can involve experienced traditional tradesmen also in this teaching process to teach some of their traditional skills. These certificate holders will fill the basic needs of many house-holders and other small business groups. Such training institutes should be established in every taluk either by local govt.’s or by authorized private parties.
  • Those who have completed high school may branch off to professional diploma courses in advanced areas such as fabrication, forging and foundries, assembly of machines, manufacturing of spare parts in different areas of engineering. 3-year Diploma courses as existing in the present day Polytechnic Institutes would very well fill this need. These students will also have opportunities open for higher professional education and training. Such polytechnics should be established in every district in several specialized areas.
  • Those who have completed high school with merit and wants to go for higher education may opt for professional degree courses. In these courses proper scientific, engineering, commercial or administrative education will be offered with some specialization in the final years of this 4-year course. On completion of this professional degree course, the student should be able to join any major scientific engineering, commercial or public service establishments and assist them in all their professional activities with minimum training. After some experience they may even establish themselves, on their own, in their chosen profession.

d) Education for Knowledge and research: Very few of the students have the ability and aptitude for higher learning and research. Instead of taking up higher courses just as a routine (or just as an alternative, till one finds a job), only students with an academic bent of mind should take up higher degrees such as Masters and Doctorates. Here again, some students may branch off to academics after some experience in the industry. Herein, the learning and research is important, than equipping yourself for a job. In addition to above formal education streams, the corporate employers should have facilities for deputing some of their employees for targeted courses and educational workshops conducted by professional institutes. Corporate companies can be considered for tax-breaks for the expenses incurred by them for these purposes.

The teachers and educationalists among my readers may please reflect on these issues, discuss with their compatriots and make every effort to improve the situation in education and skilling. Only such action will improve overall employment situation in India. After all even making and selling pakodas would require some skills.



Spirituality and Patriotism in National Politics

March 24, 2018

There is a general feeling, promoted and attempted to be perpetuated, by leftists and the so-called liberals, that Indian Nationalists in the form of BJP/RSS have hijacked Swamy Vivekananda and Subash Chandra Bose as their icons of Spirituality and Patriotism. It is nice that these people at least agree that Swami Vivekananda and Sri Subash Chandra Bose are the Indian idols representing India’s Spiritual and Patriotic traditions. The thought and Sloka attributed by these leftists to Swami Vivekananda, as the evidence of his ‘secular’ and ‘pluralistic’ ideas, is actually the essence of Hindu thought and their way of living. The Sloka   “Aakashath Pathitham Thoyam Yatha Gachathi Sagaram, Sarvadeva Namaskaram Keshavam Prathi Gachathi”, is an ancient well known principle enshrined in every Hindu mind, even before the time of Swami Vivekananda. (Just as the rains falling from the sky, gets back to the sea; Prayers to all the different gods gets  back to the supreme GOD, Kesahav or Maha Vishnu)  This is one of the very first prayers taught to every child of devout Hindu parents. Most of the world religions have accepted this principle, that there is only one God, identified by different names and forms. As Hindus, we already have many deities, from forms to formless, from animals to trees and from five elements to stars and planets. We intrinsically know that all of them will lead to same Godhood. This principle was kept hi-jacked by the secular leftists, if at all, and it has recently been released and made known to their followers, emulating Swami Vivekananda. How can anyone say that the present regime is discouraging the above thought by projecting (or hijacking) Swami Vivekananda? Is it not totally illogical? When Vivekananda and his thoughts were easily available for all, where is the need for anyone to hijack?

Once I had a school mate (Mr. Abdul Subhan) with whom I used to exchange tiffins, of course, on days when he brings vegetarian food. In due course, just as a token of our friendship, he almost always brought vegetarian tiffin to be able to exchange with me every day. Eventually he became a vegetarian even at home on his own accord. Vegetarianism and Veganism are healthy modes of eating practices recognised all over the world. There is nothing spiritual or religious about it. By promoting vegetarianism one is not promoting Hindu religion and by promoting Veganism neither she is promoting Jainism. Forcing and fouling food habits either way is not acceptable.      

Spiritualism is beyond religion or culture or eating practices. Many of the so-called atheists and agnostics have displayed several trends of spiritual thinking, not necessarily religious. Spiritually inclined persons, irrespective of their religion (or no-religion) have always displayed better value systems. Such spiritual people with better value systems should be at the helm of all public affairs and especially in politics.

Integrity and Sense of Justice are also in some way spiritual qualities, evolved out of spiritual thinking. It has nothing to do with any religion or patriotism. Patriotism (or loyalty) is a must for certain disciplines of human activity. Though it is commonly called as loyalty, Patriotism is nobler than loyalty, since it involves sacrifice. In the name of global or universal view, our patriots and our soldiers and their selfless sacrifices cannot be insulted.   On the contrary they should be honoured and respected.

How can anyone hi-jack Spirituality and Patriotism, leave alone their idols? Senses of Spirituality and Patriotism are important requirement for any Political System, Political Party and Political Leadership. That is why nations have oath taking ceremonies for elected politicians and they also have National Anthems, Flags and Emblems. Do we not display our patriotism collectively on Independence Day and Republic Day?

If Spirituality and Patriotism are kept out of politics, we will have only mob-ocracy and not democracy.

Innovative Ideas 2,3,4 & 5

March 7, 2018

Innovative Ideas 2,3,4 & 5

Most of us are innovative in our own way in our own fields of interest. But only a few of us have time enough to crystallize these innovative ideas into workable ideas. And still few of us have the wherewithal to develop these innovative ideas into products or into patents to be developed by others. So, it is natural I have some ideas innovative enough to present in a few blogs to follow. I won’t know whether they are good enough to deserve patents. But, even if so, I make it clear here, these ideas will remain free of any patent rights and hence any developer may use this idea or modify them in any way to evolve a product useful to the humanity. However if somebody finds it economically viable only to produce under a patent, then they can apply for a patent, but only with my express permission and agreement.

In an earlier blog, I had given an innovative idea (No.1) for having Battery (Replacement) Stations for Electric Cars, along the highways and main roads. I am giving below four more ideas for future development. Anyone interested?

2. Number Locks

Number Locks are of several different types. Some of them have a single dial with numbers to be set in a sequence. These are generally known as Combination locks. There are other locks in which 3, 4 or more individual thumbwheels, a combination on them can be set to lock and open the locks. These locks are available as separate devices which can be used with any box or luggage having a padlock. Such locks are also fitted into the box or luggage as an integral part. The required combination of numbers is initially set to all 0s and it is left to the user to choose his combination. There are two problems which affect their convenience. Coming to these issues with the lock:

  1. We set the combination to open the lock. How many of us realize the importance of remembering to change the combination randomly immediately after opening? Almost None. This results in outsiders knowing the combination with a casual look at the open lock.
  2. Once a combination is chosen, it is required to set this combination even to lock the box. Not only this is inconvenient, it also affects safety, since even locking the box is required to be done in secrecy.
  3. After closing the box, we should always remember to change the wheels to a random number to lock the box.

To make these locks safer, convenient and free from above defects, I suggest the following design changes:

  1. Locking of the box should be enabled, irrespective of any existing combination, as in a push/press latching system.
  2. When one locks the box as above, the combination should automatically change to all 0s, (to ensure the combination is not inadvertently remaining set to open)
  3. The box should be enabled to open only by setting the chosen combination of numbers.
  4. The system should automatically re-set to all 0s again as the box is opened.
  5. This means the combination should automatically re-set to all 0s after both open and close operation to ensure safety and secracy.

Hope all number lock manufacturers will use this idea, and re-design their future number locks in this way. Luggage manufacturers may specify these requirements to the suppliers of number locks for their luggage.

3. Elevators on Helical rails.

Most of the cabin elevators for movement of people are designed as a single cabin per shaft, operating on a wire rope pulled by a motor on the top. It has a counterweight to make it energy efficient. But in a single vertical shaft, only one cabin is accommodated. In public places like malls and super markets the option of escalators are chosen to handle the heavy traffic. But in multi-storied tower complexes of corporate offices and government facilities, both the options do not work well. My idea, as below is to have a helical rail for several cabins together which will be lifted to different floors by rotation of the helix. A reverse rotation of another helical rail likewise, may bring the cabins down. On the roof and basement, the cabins can be exchanged from one helix to the other by a lateral movement. The schematic shown below explains the basic principle. The cabins sliding down on thier own operate as counter weights for cabins going up. As the cabins slide down the helix by gravity, this helix rotates and acts as a supplementary force for the other helix to rotate the other way to lift the cabins. The process thus becomes energy efficient. Each elevator cabin stops on all floors. But the continuous string of elevators will make it time-efficient also. In addition we may have normal high speed elevators, only serving the higher floors, if required.  I leave it to my co-innovators to design other control, instrumentation and safety features. They may even add other features like withdrawal of a few cabins and stopping at alternate floors etc.

Helical Rails

4. Air-conditioner with a cool box:

Every room air-conditioner can come fitted, with an option of a Cool-Box for domestic use. Many households in India cannot afford costly appliances like Refrigerator and Air-conditioner. Need for Air-conditioner is sometimes felt more than a refrigerator. For most of the lower middle class households in India and other 3rd world countries, especially the vegetarians, there is hardly a need for a refrigerator as they generally cook afresh everyday and sometimes even twice a day. What they need is only a cool place, to keep their left-over food, say, for about 8-hours till they can eat it again. They also need a device to keep water, milk, fresh vegetables and drinks cool enough. A cool box as in a car will mostly serve their purpose. AC manufacturers may think of a cool-box fit-out as an option along with their AC. The AC may circulate the cool air through a small box at the eye level which can be used to store such items as above. A two or three liter box will be sufficient for this. Is any techno start-up willing to try this?

5. Gym Charger:

The public Gymnasiums have now become common in many cities, in office complexes, shopping complexes and apartment complexes. It is possible to design exercise machines in such a way that it generates electricity out of man-power instead of consuming the same. A treadmill can be designed to rotate a wheel which could charge a battery. Same thing can be achieved with any exercise bi-cycle. We may even design a gym where all the machines are connected to a common flywheel which may generate enough power to operate several devices in the complex like water-pump, garden irrigation, washing machines, dryers etc.

I have a few more ideas which i will explore in my future blogs. Techno-preneurs of younger generation may try and develop these ideas further.

L V Nagarajan / 07 March 2018Entrepreneurs