Archive for November, 2008

e-Governance in India

November 29, 2008

e-Governance in India has both positive and negative elements.

First the positive ones

  • India has the largest number of “award winning” eGovernance projects (Bhoomi in Karnataka, Dhrishti in Rajasthan and e-Sewa in Andhra Pradesh, for example)
  • Indian projects have seen many innovations
  • There are projects like MCA21 (where half a million companies file their quarterly returns online), Courts computerization (judgements becoming available on the Net within 24 hours) etc.
  • Under National e-Governance Project (NeGP) Government of India has committed more than Rs 20,000 Crores
  • Under NeGP there is a proposal to set up 100,000 kiosks under Public Private Partnership

The negative ones

  • There is more emphasis on spending money than on creating value
  • The emphasis is on “e” (computerization) and NOT on governance
  • Too many “pilots” (what Prof Keniston of MIT terms as “graveyard of failed projects”)

(Keynote address in e-Governance Conference, Dayanand Sagar Institutions, Bangalore, November 27, 2008)

IT industry employs more than 500,000 people in Karnataka

November 9, 2008

As part of the annual awards for various categories given away during IT.com (now IT.biz) every year by STPI (Software Tech Parks of India) on November 4, 2008, there was an interesting number that was talked about. It is the total number of IT professionals in Karnataka that stands at more than 500,000 today.

As an IT professional I feel proud that this nascent industry could generate so many jobs. Though small in absolute numbers for a country of 1.1 billion people it compares roughly with the number of people employed the Government of Karnataka (GoK). It become all the more interesting when one takes note of the fact that most IT forms do not employ low end labor (Janitors, peons, drivers, security staff and helpers, as these jobs are mostly outsourced) unlike the Government whose bulk of the employees constitute Class III and Class IV.

 

Also the jobs are jobs for life and globally respected; many of the professionals can be gainfully employed anywhere in the world. With proper self-learning & training most of the professionals can look to life-long employment

My views on Indian education

November 7, 2008

IIIT-B happened due to a sincere public private partnership. Government investing in permanent assets gives the much needed stability to the staff and credibility in the eyes of applicants. Being a Government Society ensures that the assets accumulated over time will NOT benefit any private interest and thereby retaining the “public good” spirit of an academic institution.

We in India need to work together to create world-class AND world-scale Universities. Places where large number of students (that can justify critical mass of researchers in multiple areas) can pursue areas of their interest with unfettered freedom.

The regulators must move to output control in place of input control. Let institutions adopt their own means, small campus, big campus, multiple campus, multiple departments etc. Let there be a “community of scholars” to oversee quality. Let the State fund the institutions based on their quantity and quality of output measured through simple measures that can be transparently evaluated.

Let the priority of investment be people; unfortunately the way regulators specify the minimum requirements for accreditation, institutions end up having first rate buildings and second rate equipment with practically no money for investing in people. Let the right priorities be kept.

Whatever success IIIT-B has achieved in the past 9 years is due to the simple principle outlined earlier.

(Acceptance speech given during the conferment of “Champion of humanity” Award by Hindustan Chamber of Commerce in Chennai on November 6, 2008)

Purdue President in India

November 5, 2008

Dr France Cordova, an accomplished Astrophysics Professor (Stanford and CalTech educated, and earlier served in UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara as well as NASA)) and President of the renowned Purdue University (one of the largest Engineering Schools in USA) is in India for 10 days.

As an Alumnus I had the privilege of meeting her and talking to her today. Dressed in an Indian dress, it took a second for me to recognize her (We all had seen her picture on the Web page).

She was articulate and graceful. We were particularly happy as Americans were celebrating their election result and Senator Obama taking a historic win.

For a State University in the conservative mid-west State of Indiana that too set in a rural setting (the City of West Lafayette has just a population of 50,000!), it is indeed heartening that Purdue University chose a woman as President of the University.

I do hope the able leader will take the University to greater heights.

Obama makes history

November 5, 2008

Senator Barack Hussein Obama is elected to the most powerful position of the President of the United States of America. It is a historic moment not just for USA, but the world as a whole. He is the first Black American President 

 

He is just 47 years young, educated at Columbia and Harvard Law College, is sincere, speaks straight from the heart, has compassion and wants to change the world for a better place to live. Soon after getting elected he told the American people just one line “It is YOUR victory”. He called his opponent and expressed a feeling that he wants to work with him. Senator McCain too was so graceful. I vividly remember the way Hillary Clinton gracefully bowed out of her Presidential race (I even wrote a blog entry)

One wishes that India too gets a young President, who is sincere, articulate, has humble beginnings and graceful