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Friday, December 30, 2011

OpenBook: REFLECTIONS ON THE YEAR 2011

OpenBook: REFLECTIONS ON THE YEAR 2011: As the clock ticks and time passes away from the year that we just lived, many thought come to my mind and today I want to share some of t...

REFLECTIONS ON THE YEAR 2011

As the clock ticks and time passes away from the year that we just lived, many thought come to my mind and today I want to share some of those thoughts with all of you who have given me so much love and affection. Many of you may not even understand how much you all mean to me and how you have been part of my life.
For me the most important aspect of living life in the year 2011 can be measured only by how much I have gained from you all. I would probably not be what I am today had it not been for the trust, faith and support that I have received from all of you. The year was one of great achievements for me as it gave me a new opportunity to put a new team together to build something new and different. During this period I came across a number of new faces in my life and could never anticipate that in such a short span they would become part of my life. I had my ups and downs with new people but I believed that everyone has a hidden talent that I could use. It was just my job to make them realize that they were on to something big in life. Some of them thought that I was kidding; some thought I am diplomatic, and some may have even thought that I am crazy. However, as the year passes by me, I am happy that most of them today do realize that there is merit in what I was telling them all along. I can see the spark in the eyes of the people who work with me and I do hope I have earned their support. Today I just want you to know that you have shaped my thinking and I value your frankness and sometimes the anger you expressed on what you did not like about me or my ways of doing things. I have sincerely reflected on all those issues and am a better person compared to a year back or when I met you for the first time.

Then there is another group of people who have shaped my thinking this year and they are my old and existing students. I can confess that I have learnt a lot from them. I shared their sorrows, difficulties and apprehensions. I gave them a shoulder to cry when they needed it from me but I also gave them the values as teacher that I have practiced all my life. Sometimes you as my students have amazed me and at times you have disappointed me but I always took it in the spirit of learning. I continued to have faith in your abilities and I will always continue to do so because I think I have taught you to hear to your inner voice. That should always be the guiding light in your life. Today many of you have made remarkable progress in your life and it is all due to your own efforts and perseverance. I do not take any credit for what you are today, I just am so happy that you let me be part of your life for some years that we spent together. There have also been some sad stories about students that I do not wish to share at this point in time but would like all those students to know, I still care for all of you and do not give up hope, the world does not come to an end tomorrow.

Before I begin to say goodbye to 2011, I want all of you who have been in some way been connected to me (even if we have never met) to know that we are not the center of the universe and the creator has given us a life as the most intelligent species in the known universe. We all should make effective use of this gift for the benefit of not only us but those around us at the least. Here are some of the things that you may think of doing for the next year.

1.       Try and make at least one person happy everyday by just listening to them. This will give you 360 days of credit in your account next year.

2.       Go out of the way to help someone who needs help the most, it may be your students, co-worker or someone you may have never met.

3.       There are so many people who are dependent on you for their livelihood. They could be your driver, servants, or gardener. Just help them educate their one child for one year. It’s a great gift you can give.

4.       Control your anger this year, it speaks a lot about you as a person and not about the person you are angry with you.

5.       Spend some quality time with the family. It is an important part of living life.

6.       All away carry a smile on your face it does not cost you anything but makes life for everyone around you good.

7.       Make up with friends you lost in 2011. Get back to them and say sorry if you have to say.. you never know how this year is going to be.



Happy New year and have a great 2012.










Monday, December 26, 2011

IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS:- A PHYSICIST VIEW

Consider the following:

1.  No known species of reindeer can fly. But there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.


2. There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.

3.  Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical).

This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man- made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

4. The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight.

On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that 'flying reindeer' (see point #1) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine.

We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.

5. 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy per second each.

In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second.

Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.> In conclusion - If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.

(NOTE: This appeared in the SPY Magazine (January, 1990))

Saturday, December 10, 2011

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF LIFE

As we move on in our life with ups and downs each day, we seldom think of how much difference we make to the life of other people. Listed below are some principles that you can follow to make life more meaningful to ourself and to others. See how many of these you are following today. Make an attempt for a week and see how your life will begin to unfold with a different perspective.

1. Thou shall not worry needlessly about mistakes: You aren’t unworthy or incapable just because you made some mistakes. Remember that mistakes are necessary for growth.
 
2. Thou shall not control things: Your way is not always the best way. Remain open minded, and don’t worry if things don’t go as expected.
 3. Thou shall not blame others: Don’t make others responsible for your happiness. You are in control of your happiness, and you can choose to make the day a positive one.
 4. Thou shall not worry: Don’t worry about the things you cannot change or have no control over. Have faith that storms never last long and tomorrow will be brighter.
5. Thou shall never surrender: You must try to climb that hill even when it seems too steep. No matter how difficult the task seems, it’s better to try than to wonder if you could have succeeded.
 6. Thou shall grow: Never think that you have to stay where you are in life. Every new day offers an opportunity for change.
 7. Thou shall not judge others harshly: Try to accept other people for who they are. Just because some one is different from you, doesn’t mean they are inferior. Everyone was created in God’s image.
 8. Thou shall not fret over other’s opinions: Not everyone will like you, and some people will criticize you, nut you must not feel unworthy. You need no one’s approval to be you.
 9. Thou shall not doubt your ability: You should always have faith in yourself. Refuse to give the negative voice in your head an audience.
 10. Thou shall not fix the world: It’s good to help others, but remember that you cannot fix everyone’s problems.
Note: These are not my words but I fully believe in these principles and thus though I will share it with you all. Hope you enjoy it.

EARN RESPECT AS A TEACHER..DONT DEMAND IT

It’s been over 26 years now that I have been teaching students at both the undergraduate and the postgraduate levels. Today as I look back at all those years, I feel that how much I have learnt from my students. In fact they have contributed so much to my growth and development as a teacher. Many of my students have made success stories in their life and so many of them could not make it and that has always been a concern for me at the personal level. The thought always comes did I do the right things or did I miss something that was so important for them to have become a success story like others. There is little doubt that we as teachers take great pride in the achievements of our students. But we also need to reflect and think of all those students who did not make it. These thoughts have given me some time to reflect on my role as a teacher and how I can be an instrument of transformation.

It is important to remember that the teacher is the first person that a student will approach when he is lost and is unable to find a direction in his life. Many a times this may not be because he is academically weak but more because he is not able to find his place in the social structure of our society. In such situations what is my role as a teacher?

Most teachers tell that their job is to go and deliver lectures in the class and finish the course so that students are prepared for the exams. I however, feel that there is another exam for which we don’t prepare our students and that is the exam of their life. Over the years I have been able to develop the ability to look at a student and clearly identify if there is something bothering him/her. I have taken the task of asking him to see me and I have found talking helps them to a great extent. It is my belief that if you don’t care for your students, then you cannot be a good teacher. Caring teachers become role models for their students. This also puts additional burden on teachers to live up to the image that students carry about them. Everything that we do is being observed by them and therefore we have to ensure that we do what is right all the time. The relationship between a teacher and a student is one of respect and trust and that has to be maintained at all times.

A good teacher will always try and give all they have both intellectually and personally. Caring for our students has nothing to do with the job or the salary that we get. It is more about creating a culture of confidence and preparing for good citizenship for the future generations. Unfortunately a lot of teachers of modern world should not be in this profession to start with. They do not have the feeling of being a teacher. For them teaching is a profession and it is like any other 9:30 to 5:30 job as they would do somewhere else. However I think those who desire to be teachers should remember that we have a greater responsibility as we deal with young minds that can be swayed by all sorts of ideas and ideologies. Sometimes we try and teach students what we know but the fact is that we should be teaching students what they should know. Such teaching converts resistance to interest in acquiring knowledge. This requires that we as teachers understand the difference between information, knowledge and wisdom. Many teachers in today’s educational environment have the task of only providing information to students. We fail to help students in converting information into knowledge and from knowledge to wisdom. For good teaching to happen, this gradual transition from Information to wisdom is essential. All teaching has to connect the subject to the art and craft of life management.

When I begin to think of some of the people that I have met in the field of teaching, I become so sad that such people exist under the mask of a teacher. Probably they are responsible for the loss of faith that students have developed in their teachers.

My advice to all those that want to be teachers is to first ask yourself if you have what it takes to be a teacher to start with. Do you carry the values that are necessary to be a teacher and are you ready for the sacrifices that are necessary to be in the field of teaching? To be a teacher par excellence you should have the ability to touch the heart of your students. You should be able to earn the respect of your students and should not demand it from them. This is one of the most important tests of a good teacher. If you have to force your students to respect you, then you probably should not be in the field of teaching. Always love your students the same way you would love you children, care for them as you would care for your own child. The greatest satisfaction will come not from the salary you get paid but by touching the heart and the soul of your students. They will remember you throughout their life for what you have dome for them.

Let us all work towards creating a bright future for the next generation. What we do today as teachers will determine the future of our society and the place that our children will have for themselves.

Happy reading..

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

THE MIRACLE OF TRUST & FORGIVENESS

On an average we meet more people in our life who have done good for us or at the least they have never done anything to hurt us in anyway. It is also true that some people who have come in our life have causes us a lot of stress and may have lowered our image in the eyes of the people around us. But I am confident that if we take account of all these people we will find that those that have done well to us will be much higher than those who have hurt us. Even then most people tend to begin to lose faith in friends, family and relatives because they were hurt by the actions of one person from among the hundreds that they know.

Today while I was in my thinking box, I remembered a once close associate of mine who worked with me. I started thinking of my discussions with him and started recollecting what he told me. Before I go any further I want to tell my readers that I do trust people and sometimes I trust them more that I trust myself. I have believed that it is a good practice to begin by trusting everyone until there a reason not to trust them. I have never regretted this policy and it will stay with me to the end of my life. This does not mean that I have personally not been hurt by people; this is because of that very reason.

I want to share a story of a people who had been associated with me and what transpired during that period. The first person let’s call him “Sir X”. He worked very closely with me in administrative positions. He was very good to me all the time that he was with me but he changed as soon as I left the organization. He had so many things against me that he talked to others. But my world is so connected that everything came to me through some means or the other. Fate would have it such that he lost his job and I had to help him get a job again. I thought to myself should I help this person? The inner voices within me said go ahead and do it and I did it because I did not want to punish his family for his deeds. But old habits are hard to change and he was back to his old ways talking ill of me. Well, again fate strikes and he lost his job. He came to me and asked for help, I told him that I am going to help him but I want to know why he was doing what he was doing. He said he was sorry for what he had done and that he is ashamed of it. I told him that I wanted to know more about my weaknesses and that I was only human and I could be doing something wrong and may be hurting him unknowingly. He had no answer to my question because what he was doing was part of his genetic make and maybe he had no control over it. I spent the next few months having good discussions with him and got him a new job. He is doing well and has not adjusted to his new life very well. The question that comes to my mind has always been ..why did I help him despite what he was doing?

When I reflect back, there is only one thing that made me help him in all instances. It was just that I wanted to make a difference in his life and to his family. I still trusted my instinct that I could change him and I am glad that I tried and today he is so different.

This to any person could be considered as a bad experience and the first response would be to try and hurt him over and over again. But I wanted to rise above myself and wanted to see life in a new perspective. Today, I am glad that I did what I did and he leads a happy life. Now there are two ways of looking at this series of incidents. The first and the expected response is a tit for tat policy and the second is what I did.

Think about it, has anyone done wrong to you? Have you been cheated? Has someone spread wrong information about you? Then forgive them and go your way and don’t give a rent free space to them in your mind. I know you will say it is not east to do that and I agree with you. But remember not everyone is made to do difficult things in life, only some of us can do it and that is what makes us so special in this world.

There is another aspect that I want you to think about. Should I stop trusting people because I had one bad incident in life which I was able to salvage and make a better life for the whole family? I have always felt that trust is a pre-requisite for a happy life and we must continue to search for reasons why we need to trust people. Also remember that one bad experience cannot be used to punish a whole generation of people who now cannot be trusted because of one person. The most important thing to remember is that you are the master of your mind and you can twist it the way you want. Don’t become a slave of your mind but try and make your mind work according to your command. Trust people they are all good and they need a second chance in life. Don’t we all at some point need a second chance in life…..

Happy reading and all the best…


Monday, November 14, 2011

BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY

Andrew Carnegie the great American industrialist and philanthropist once said that there are three types of people in this world. The first types of people are those that always live on the margin and they do as little work as possible and if unsupervised they would choose not to do any work at all. The amount of work this group of people do is not even close to what their positions dictate. They follow the minimalist approach where they do only as much as it is necessary to just survive in the system to get paid at the end of each month. They can be identified easily as they don’t seem to stick too long in any place. Normally a year is sufficient for them to begin to get exposed.
  
The second groups of people are those that will do what is stipulated in their job descriptions and nothing beyond that. They follow a system of work by the clock and follow the 9:30 to 5:30 schedule and nothing beyond that. These are honest and genuine people but bound by self drawn limitations. I call such people as people who work within a defined contract structure and if they are required to put in additional hours they look for quick rewards.

The third types of people as defined by Carnegie are those that will go beyond the call of their duty. They seem to have everything going for themselves. Despite their work that goes beyond their office hours they are able to bring a better work-life balance in comparison to the other two groups of people. This type of attitude towards their duty is what I call as one of the secrets of all success stories. Here I want to be very carefully as I may unknowingly give the impression to the reader that I am defining success by the amount of wealth one accumulates. I am sure many of you will remember the famous John D. Rockefeller to whom the wealth that he accumulated did not bring him happiness. In fact today his success is not measured by the amount of wealth he accumulated during his lifetime but more by the wealth that he gave away for the cause of education and medical care.

This is a true story of a man who started his second innings after having lost all he had. There was one thing that he did not lose and that was habit of working beyond the call of duty. I am deliberately not using his real name so that I don’t reveal his identity. Karan was a middle aged man in his 40s and started his career with a modest beginning. He rose to become a Manager in a Manufacturing unit in the state of Punjab. Fate would not support him and one fine day he found himself on the street with nowhere to go. Karan after recovering from the after-shock decided to take matters in his hand and not wait for the invisible hand of God to work for him. By stroke of luck he chanced upon an opportunity to reach New York a land where dreams are made. He was able to get a daily wages job in a grocery store which gave him just enough to survive. He slept at night in the store itself and went all out to help his boss better the business. Over the next one year of his work at the store, he had been able to impress his boss with his level of honesty, integrity and hard work that his boss decided to ask him to open a vegetable store in front of the Grocery store with a deal that Karan would keep all the earning and give his boss 20 percent from the profits.

Karan used his savings to open a vegetable store in front of the Grocery store of his boss. He worked hard and even started home delivery to his good customers. The news of his service to customers spread like a wild fire in the Indian community and his customer base increase many fold. With his new found success he was able to rent a shop in the same market and started a grocery store like his boss. He always went beyond the call of duty in his work and it started paying him high dividends. To cut the long story short, today Karan is one of the largest importers of Indian grocery items in the United States of America. He is a multi-millionaire but still works with the same dedication that he started his small business operation. He never forgot his boss who stood by him in times of need; they are today the best of friend and are doing business together as partners.

Is there a moral to this story? Answer will depend on which category of people you would classify yourself into.

Think how you can reach beyond the call of duty…




Saturday, November 12, 2011

TAMING THE TONGUE

Have you ever though that every part of the body has a defined function which acts in coordination with the other parts in absolute precision. That is what makes the human body one of the most complex machines in the known universe. But we as humans have found ways to misuse this machine to an extent that it can hurt the wellbeing of others. Today let me try and put my views on using our tongue without brakes especially within the context of the workplace.

I you have worked in an organization you would be able to relate to what I am going to write. There is no doubt that a lot of people find spice in life only by talking about others. Somehow they find so much joy in doing this each and every day in their life. I feel that such people can be defined by a set of characteristics. First they are people who don’t have much in their own life that is worth talking about. Their achievements are very limited and they can survive only by putting others down. They are fully aware that what they are saying about the other person may not be correct but they still will continue with their attack. Secondly, they are people with very low self esteem and self confidence. Many times this lack of self esteem is the result of not having achieved much in the first place. Talking ill of others or indulging in small talk is their way of boosting their ego. Such people are only looking for a way of surviving on the margins of the life cycle and are seldom achievement oriented. Finally, such people lack professional courage and cannot accept the growth of others around themselves. I believe that it takes a lot of courage to look into the eyes of a competing colleague and congratulate them on their achievement. There is always a tendency to pull down others rather than to hold on to them and learn to climb to ladder. This is termed as crab mentality and relates to such people who will find negative things even in the most positive work of their peers and will keep criticizing them for everything. It describes a kind of selfish, short-sighted thinking which runs along the lines of “if I can't have it, neither can you.” When someone has a crab mentality, it means that they are unwilling to allow someone to get out of a situation, or to get ahead. In a classic example of crab mentality, people who are attempting to get out of bad work situations often find themselves foiled by peers who keep sucking them back in.

Workplace, especially in the domain of education is a place for role models, for people who have absolute control over their tongue. They need to understand very clearly that words spoken once cannot be taken back and what they speak has an impact on a lot of young minds. It is thus, essential that they learn to tame the tongue. I have had situations in higher education work space where people indulge in such practices. This is however a common trait among employees in almost every type of work place. These are also the very people who will have the first complaint that the work culture of the place in not good. Seldom do they realize that work culture of the organization is not made up of buildings and the furniture at the work place but the people like them and their behaviors.

In my experience, I have also found that if there is too much of back biting activity among the employees or there is loose talk going on then you need to look at reassignment of work among the employees. This is an indication that they do not have enough work and the resources of the organization are being wasted. In a situation like this, it is important to begin to talk to each employee and to start making work assignments and the dates for completion. You will find that such activity begins to reduce and a better work culture is in the process of being established.

As employees, we all need to reflect back and see if we are our self promoting this kind of culture in our organizations. My recommendation has always been talk to your peers and co-workers and not about them. If you need to talk to one person about the other person, then you are responsible for the bad work culture of the place. Keep your head high and remember you are not perfect either.

The crab mentality is a reflection of the famous saying “we all like to see our friends get ahead, but not too far ahead.” Learning to recognize the crab mentality in you is a very good idea, especially if you work or live in a highly competitive environment.

Read and think if we are part of the problem or the solution

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

MANAGING EXPECTATION IN RELATIONSHIPS

We as humans survive on relationships that we develop over a period of time. Some of these strengthen as time passes and some have the tendency to evaporate and lose its charm. The term relationship used here is fairly broad to encompass all relationship including social, work, family etc. I have found in my experience that the root cause for cracks to develop in a relationship are due to the fact that our  expectation from the relationship exceed what is desirable at any given time. All relationships all based on compromises that we make because our way of doing anything or even thinking are not the only way. Within each individual there is a perceived difference in how they look at life.
It is a good practice to always give the benefit of doubt in case things don’t go as expected in a relationship. Some of the times our expectation are so high from the other person that we fail to see the smoke till the fire flares up. One of the basic principles that I use in managing relationship with people is to give them a lot of space to be themselves. When I want to do something as part of the relationship I try not to score a point out of it. Sometimes there are situations where there is an expectation from the other end in the relationship of something being done and it may not be possible to do it even though you want to do it. These situations are quite common even in employee and employer relationships and there is a need to have open ended discussions on issues. 

The second principle to be kept in mind is that it is necessary to make sure that all parties in a relationship irrespective of type of relationship should understand that there is no give and take for everything you do. Whatever is done with no returns in mind? I have always done things without any expectations from the other end and I derive a lot off happiness from it. That is the main reason for me to do anything. I do not expect any appreciation for what I can do for others but I do expect an understanding of what is not possible for me to do irrespective of my best intentions. This approach has given me immense joy in managing my relationship with my friends, peers, relatives and the immediate family members.

The third principle I would like to highlight is to understand that people have their limitations and they will have to work within the framework of those limitations. It is also important to understand that sometimes people will have some conflict of interest which will come in way of doing something for others. This natural and a rational process and we should try and understand such situations in life. In general for us to be happy we only need to see what is it that we can do to others in a relationship that they cannot do for themselves. This is what in my opinion strengthens the bond between people.

Always remember that we live in social structure where expectations are a part of our life and we cannot run away from them but we can manage then well. Whether you are looking at work, social or family relationships the key is always to try and understand the point of view of the other person and assess the situation from their point of view. You may not agree with it but understanding of it is critical to any relationship. I hope you will give some thought on these points and use them in your personal life as well. Please leave your thoughts in form of comments as it will help me in fine tuning my own ideas.

All the best and happy thinking..

THE LOOKING GLASS

It is past midnight and I am trying to complete some work for a major meeting coming up on November 11, 2011. Something seems to be bothering me and I cannot but begin to put my thought on this blog and share it with you all.

I love to be in the company of people who are straight forward, clear, do not put personal interest before organizational interests. However, this a dying breed and soon it will become extinct and thus there is a need to take steps to protect this species.

Most of my learning in life has come from my early childhood or from the place of work. I have always tried to help people to the extent it is possible within the administrative structures of the organization. But in this effort I have also learnt that a lot of employees will try and take you for a ride. The funny part is that they don’t even think that the person that they may be dealing with is not a fool and he will see through the glass. Sometimes I get the feeling that they know what they are trying to achieve is wrong but if they try it may go through.

In recent months I have come across a number of such situations and I feel sad for those people who have tried to do things that I was able to see through and stop them at the right time. The funny part is that they are not ashamed of any of those wrong doings. You may be wondering, what are these wrong doings that I am talking about. Well for those of us who still believe in the value system of a classical teacher, it is a very difficult job to accept certain aspect of behavior of people.

Many times during the year I have had the opportunity to hear employees discuss their problems with me and taking some benefit out of me due to that reason. Then at a later stage I realized that the problem indicated by the employee was really not a problem but it was fabricated with an ulterior motive to receive some benefit. What I am beginning to find is that many employees in a work place are very dishonest to themselves. There are schemes working in the background from where they are supposed to receive benefits which are not due to them. I find that most people consider giving fictitious travel bills for official duty as something that falls in the range of acceptable behavior. I however consider such behaviors as outright robbery. Once an employee came to me and said that he was attending conference and I agreed to it. The funny part was that I was one of the speakers during that conference and I could not find the employee any where during the conference. The most interesting part was when the next morning the employee comes to me to say how great the conference was. I did not say anything except to ask a few questions to see what he had to say about the conference. I still don’t understand why the employee had to go through this in the first place.

The more I think the more I get convinced that there is a tendency for people to lie as they start everything with the assumption that truth does not pay. Second, they have one scheme in their mind and another in their heart. I believe that most of such employees know what they are doing is wrong but they still want to try. I feel sad that even in the profession of teaching such people exist.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

MY TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

All of us choose our careers with a set of goals in mind. Some of these goals are material-related, intended to take care of our lifestyle desires or obligations. Other goals are people oriented, with humanistic purpose of primary importance. Teaching to me has always been and hopefully always be a people oriented profession. I believe that one must care a great deal about students to achieve excellence in our profession.

Many teachers underestimate the impact they have on students. At our best we can turn students on. Unfortunately, when we are not at our best, we can turn them off. We possess that kind of power.

As a teacher I believe that the first major components of good teaching is the quality of information presented to students. Despite the short-term appeal of an entertaining charismatic teacher, the long-term impact of a course depends on its substance. The curriculum is in a continuous state of flux; deleting, integrating, and extending course content is probably the most active dimension within instruction. I do not offer the same course twice; new information is introduced, goals are clarified, the reference list is revised, existing principles are modified by recent findings, links with surrounding disciplines are strengthened, and areas of application are extended. Good teaching calls for consistency among three basic aspects: defining the course objective, managing the classroom hour, and devising methods of testing and evaluation. These three basic aspects are a matter of fair play, and students should know from the beginning what standards are to be met by the end of the course.

Good teaching requires considerable preparation, not so much in practicing and rehearsing one’s style of presentation as in making out the substance of the talk, its pacing, the sequence of points, and their integration with the contents that preceded and those that will follow. Even so, I do not pretend to give the impression that I can control the direction of intellectual fixation for each student throughout the teaching period. I think that pacing is important because students are unlikely to understand topic B if they are still trying to understand topic A. I give them the opportunity to catch up with me.

Over the years, I have found that motivation is prerequisite to efficient learning, and good teaching transforms resistance to interest and sustains the curiosity that brought students into the course. I strongly feel that the management of motivation requires adjustments to the differences in student interest, aims and ambitions. I have tried to accomplish this by presenting the arguments, the evidence to illustrate the points being made, frequent use of examples, anecdotes, and personal speculations to stimulate students to construct their own bridges to test their ability to apply the principles to a specific event. My prime responsibility as a teacher is to help students advance from dependent memorization to independent thinking and problem solving.

Through the last 19 years of my teaching, I have found that frequent testing of students has certain advantages: it helps to sustain habits of study, it leads to a more reliable final grade, and it provides ample opportunity for me to make quantitative evaluations of student performance.

I do not pretend to be a therapist and the classroom is certainly not a clinic, but I recognize that turning to the teacher is an early option when a student wonders what went wrong and what to do about it. I have always provided sufficient time for students to hear and advise them on their anxieties, confusions, conflicts and tensions that are generated in the academic pressure chamber. Students have found me as a person whose judgment they can respect and whose confidence is trusted as counselor, mentor, and a friend. In counseling, I respect the student’s individuality, his special needs, and his right to accept or reject the information, advice, or assistance being offered.

Last but by no means the least is my ability to work with my colleagues. No institution can be efficient if there is a lack of common goals among the teachers. We as teachers have to recognize that if students win, we as teachers win.  

Written in December , 2004

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

JUST BE YOURSELF.....

Being yourself is not easy because we all have two sides to us, the inner and the outer side of us. I have always been fascinated by this fact and have done a lot of introspection to find a balance between the two self of me. I have tried at each step to ensure that my outer self and the inner self are at peace with each other. I get the realization that the inner self speaks the truth and the outer self speaks what you want it to speak. I also find that the inner self guides me to my development and helps me understand myself. But the outer self pushes us to be what others want us to be. This is the time that the divergence in our life begins to take shape within our self.
I sometimes start wondering why people just don’t want to be themselves, what is it that makes them think of being something that they are not. There is no easy answer to this question as everyone has their own interpretation and feels that they are always right.
In recent months I have come across so many people that I feel so sorry about but then I also get to meet people that I feel so good about. I once asked a person, what is it that makes you feel good about yourself?  His/her answer was my own achievement. I got thinking about it and one thought always kept coming to my mind. Is life all about our own achievement or should some part of our life be devoted to the achievement of others as well. A very close friend told me that no one cares about what you do for others. But why should I care about others caring for what I do for them? Would this not be self defeating purpose? I was always told that you do good to others not because you want them to recognize it but because you derive a level of satisfaction from what you do.
I tried a lot with some people in the last few months but unfortunately I had to let them go because they could not get out of the situation that there is life beyond self and would not want to learn. I still feel sorry for it that I was not able to spend more time talking to them and helping them come out of their self centered nature. These are people who believe that the more problem they can create, the more they will be required.
I have always found that your best part of life is to be yourself. This is the most difficult task that a person has at hand at any point in time. To my readers I will only say that you try and develop a frequency between you outer self and the inner self. Ensure that they both speak the same language. Remember that you can win people only when you let them know what you are. Your positions, designations, the money and other things in life cannot get you want you want. Just being yourself gets you more in life than any position or designation.
Be yourself and don’t you ever demand respect from others, just work towards earning their respect by being yourself. Some will still not like you and that is ok, everyone is not required to like you. Just be natural and don’t try and play God and you will see how your world begins to change.
Kamlesh Misra

Friday, September 9, 2011

ALPHABETS OF HAPPINESS.....

                  

A-Accept:  Accept others for who they are and for the choices they've made even if you have difficulty understanding their beliefs, motives, or actions.

B-Break Away: Break away from everything that stands in the way of what you hope to accomplish with your life.

C-Create: Create a family of friends whom you can share your hopes, dreams, sorrows, and happiness with.

 D-Decide: Decide that you'll be successful and happy come what may, and good things will find you. The roadblocks are only minor obstacles along the way.

 E-Explore: Explore and experiment. The world has much to offer, and you have much to give. And every time you try something new, you'll learn more about yourself.

F-Forgive: Forgive and forget. Grudges only weigh you down and inspire unhappiness and grief. Soar above it, and remember that everyone makes mistakes.

G-Grow: Leave the childhood monsters behind. They can no longer hurt you or stand in your way.

H-Hope: Hope for the best and never forget that anything is possible as long as you remain dedicated to the task.

I-Ignore: Ignore the negative voice inside your head. Focus instead on your goals and remember your accomplishments. Your past success is only a small inkling of what the future holds.

J-Journey: Journey to new worlds, new possibilities, by remaining open-minded. Try to learn something new every day, and you'll grow.

K-Know:  Know that no matter how bad things seem, they'll always get better. The warmth of spring always follows the harshest winter.
 
L-Love: Let love fill your heart instead of hate. When hate is in your heart, there's room for nothing else, but when love is in your heart, there's room for endless happiness.

 M-Manage:  Manage your time and your expenses wisely, and you'll suffer less stress and worry. Then you'll be able to focus on the important things in life.
N-Notice: Never ignore the poor, infirm, helpless, weak, or suffering. Offer your assistance when possible, and always your kindness and understanding.

O-Open: Open your eyes and take in all the beauty around you. Even during the worst of times, there's still much to be thankful for.

P-Play: Never forget to have fun along the way. Success means nothing without happiness.

Q-Question:  Ask many questions, because you're here to learn.

 R-Relax: Refuse to let worry and stress rule your life, and remember that things always have a way of working out in the end.

S-Share: Share your talent, skills, knowledge, and time with others. Everything that you invest in others will return to you many times over.

T-Try: Even when your dreams seem impossible to reach, try anyway. You'll be amazed by what you can accomplish.

U-Use:  Use your gifts to your best ability. Talent that's wasted has no value. Talent that's used will bring unexpected rewards.

V-Value: Value the friends and family members who've supported and encouraged you, and be there for them as well.

W-Work: Work hard every day to be the best person you can be, but never feel guilty if you fall short of your goals. Every sunrise offers a second chance.

X-X-Ray: Look deep inside the hearts of those around you and you'll see the goodness and beauty within.

 Y-Yield: Yield to commitment. If you stay on track and remain dedicated, you'll find success at the end of the road.

 Z-Zoom: Zoom to a happy place when bad memories or sorrow rears its ugly head. Let nothing interfere with your goals. Instead, focus on your abilities, your dreams, and a brighter tomorrow.

Happy Reading...
(Author Unknown)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

UNIVERSITY SYSTEM IN INDIA: AN AGENDA FOR REFORM


Before I start writing this blog, I want to say that I am a product of the same system that I will be writing on and it pains when I do that. It is however important that we recognize the need for change and to work towards achieving the same.

The University System in India is going through what I call as systemic disorder where it is difficult to think of the point where we can start to make the changes. Over the last 25 years the decline in the standards that universities follow has seen a major decline. In this blog I would like to highlight these points of decline and try to list the reasons for the same. I would like to identify the path that we can travel in order to reform the existing system.  I would not claim that process of reform that I am listing are final but are just the starting point of a debate that is so much needed in this country.

Analysis of Current Situation:

If we go deep into the operation of India’s University System the first thing that we find is that with the exception of a few universities such as Delhi University and JNU, most of them have lost the academic credibility that is so much required for excellence. To a large extent this has resulted from interference from Government which has controlled the functioning of these institutions of higher learning. Today Universities do not enjoy the autonomy that they used to enjoy in the past. There are instances where IAS officers are being appointed as Vice Chancellors and registrars of Universities. In sum there is complete loss of autonomy and a collapse of academic administration. Teachers of eminence do not want to become Vice Chancellors any more as they refuse to take the rounds of the HRD ministry to garner support for their appointment.

Teachers in Universities are now a very different lot compared to those 25 years back. The profession of teaching has gone through a major transformation. About 20 percent of teachers in universities are doing their job and they have become a minority. The other 80 percent are politicians who are very active in the politics of teachers associations I universities. They do little to rescue the university from the clutches of those who are destroying it. Many of them are teaching in coaching centers to generate additional income. Universities used to have some of the best research centers; today they don’t produce any research of substance. Most teachers are now writing only text books of very inferior quality. Most of them do not come to the university except on the days that they may have classes. They hardly put in about 10 to 15 hours a week in the university. This is defined as academic freedom by them. Given the time that teachers spend at the university, they are paid even higher than the industry standard. The UGC has done a great deal of damage to the profession of teaching by introducing the concept of automatic promotions in universities. Now every teacher who enters the university is guaranteed to retire as a professor at the minimum. This does not require him to do anything other than wait for a specified number of years.

Appointments in universities have become too political. There is personal interest in every appointment from the lowest to the highest level. The state universities have become local in their outlook. About 75 to 80 percent of teachers are from the local community and a large number of them are related to each other. Vice Chancellors and heads of departments have been known to appoint their sons, daughters and close relatives in the university system. This has led to localized university system in a globalized world.

The student body within the State Universities has also become localized and each university attracts students from the districts around it. This has led to a loss of diversity among the student body which is so essential for learning. Various state governments have imposed restriction or barriers to entry for students from other states for one reason or the other. This is done in the name of protecting the interest of students from the local area. It is evident that these barriers have been created to overcome the shortage that exists in the education sector but this has destroyed the open culture of universities.

Towards a New Development Path:

Universities and colleges have multiplied numerically and expanded physically:  number of students has increased enormously, and so has the number of teachers, and employees. University campuses have grown, as have several other physical facilities. We tend to call these changes as development but the values that go to make development a reality have declined. In the world of nature, functioning precedes growth. Growth has to conform to efficient functioning to meet the objectives of the system. Each bout of growth makes the system larger and therefore more complex requiring a new set of rules and guidelines. If such rules and guidelines are not evolved, the system gets derailed. Our universities have grown but the live wires that make it functionally efficient and effective have not changed; they are the same old ones of British days.

Return to Functional Mode: It is now time for universities to return to the task of what they were created for.

Academic Audit: Quality control systems should be put in place and curriculum development should be an ongoing process.

Autonomy with Responsibility: Absolute autonomy in developing courses, shutting departments, appointments and examinations should be allowed but with a greater degree of responsibility of administrators.

Open door Policy: Admission of students and recruitment of faculty should be at national and international level and we should give up localization of universities.

Administrative restructuring: There should be complete restructuring of University administration to bring it at par with corporate performance measures in operation.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

HAVE TEACHERS FALLEN FROM GRACE?

There is a general feeling that education is must for democracy. The functioning of our universities however tells a different story. Universities are repositories of highly educated persons; they mould the clay to make men and women who create and transmit knowledge. When we see how our teachers associations and students’ unions function, we realize how wrong we are. It is rare for a good teacher or a good student to become president of the teachers’ association or students’ union. Look at the way our courts/senates function; many of them have been kept at abeyance for years, because they do not help the university function well. A look at the age old courses, teaching methodologies, teacher-student interaction and research output tells a grim story of how our academic councils, faculty boards, boards of studies, and departmental committees function. All of us who profess to be teachers have to mull over these issues. Teachers are the longest lasting people in the university system. Without their willing cooperation, nothing can improve the universities. They should be paid better so that they can pay full time attention to reading, writing, teaching, and researching.
Today teachers in India are fairly well paid. In general a fresh lecturer in the university gets a salary of at least Rs. 5,00,000 per annum. And under the present rules of promotions, he is sure to retire as university professor. This is his destiny whether he teaches or not, whether he researches or not, whether he writes articles and books or not, and often whether he comes to the university daily or only occasionally. Please compare this with average Indian income of Rs.15000 per annum; let me emphasize the word average to bring home the fact that at least one-third of the people do not get even one-third (Rs. 40000) of this amount.
True, most of our teachers are sincere, and given the circumstances in which they work, they have done pretty well. A large number of them work more than they are paid for. But the number of full time politicians, bullies and shirkers is on the increase. It is unfortunate indeed that teaching profession for many of these highly paid teachers has become a springboard for party politics and within and outside the campus. Full time politics, coaching for competitive examinations in mushrooming coaching centers out side the university, or just sitting at home take precedence over teaching, guiding and helping their students. Now it is confirmed that salaries alone do not produce good teachers, good teaching, and good research. Pride in the profession and motivation alone can make a good teacher.
Our university teachers refuse to sign attendance registers because they think it below their dignity. But they compare themselves with middle level government servants and want to have all the facilities they have but not all the responsibilities. Not teaching at all or teaching something that was relevant only fifty years ago, is part of their academic freedom.
When we look at the structure, contents, and relevance of our academic programs, we find the situation highly depressing. We refuse to introduce new courses and new teaching methodologies because both involve extra work. Very often we design courses to suit our conveniences rather than the needs of the students. Narrow self-interest has blurred of our visions to the extent that we have started cutting the very branches on which we are sitting so comfortably.
Source: R. P Misra, Former Vice Chancellor

Friday, August 12, 2011

LIVING ACADEMIC LIFE ON THE EDGE

It is said that we are all victims of our own ignorance. Those that will venture to go out and discover themselves and their full potential will experiment with things that are completely out of the way, away from the mainstream.

Today after having accepted the first batch of the students at Auro University, I want to share my experience of living life on the edge in the field of academics. It has not been an easy journey but then I was not looking for an easy way out on anything in life. I have been a lone fighter hoping to make a difference in the field of education. I had all the opportunities to join the mainstream and become part of the government sponsored education mafia. Offers came to me to be part of committees and commissions but I refused to sell myself to the status quo. I was branded as arrogant by those who sold themselves at a cost that is national loss for the generation X. 

Sometimes it seems that I am fighting a losing battle but there is something within me that says that the whole world rest on hope and if I give up hope there will be no change. I introduced new methods of teaching and learning along with colleagues who believed in the philosophy of transforming the educational landscape of this country. There has been a lot of success in the new models that were introduced. But still there is a long way to go to make it a popular means through which education reforms can be introduced.

Even today I find myself fighting a losing battle but my enthusiasm and energy are as high as they were 14 years back when I returned to India from the United States. The biggest challenge today in education is the commitment of the teachers. While saying that I would also like to put on record that there are still some very good teachers left in this country. However, most of the teachers seem to have taken the easy way of considering teaching as a job to make a living. Unfortunately this is very destructive to the whole culture of academics. We as teachers have to carry the responsibility of training the next generation of leaders of this country. This requires teachers to go beyond the call of duty as they are bestowed the responsibility for the future of India.

Over the last several years I have been trying so hard to convince policymakers to look for new solutions to old problems in our education system, but they don’t see that there is any problem at all. I am listing the steps that need to be introduced in our educational systems to make it more robust and to align it to the realities of the new economy.

1.       Move away from percentage system of examination to credit based examination. The completion of a degree program should be based on completion of the required credits rather than the number of years of study. This will allow hard working students to complete their degrees in less time than the normal time it takes today.

2.       Introduce general education as a requirement in all degree programs irrespective of the area of study. It is important that students have a good understanding of areas such as Indian culture, India’s Intellectual traditions, History, sciences and mathematics. These provide students a holistic academic experience.

3.       Let us get over from the concept of teaching, nothing can be taught today. We have shift gears from teaching to learning and this can be achieved only if we engage the students in a learning process. Students need to learn by doing things rather than to hear lectures in a classroom environment.

4.       We need to experiment with new system of examination. Do we know why we are examining students; the need to focus on application of fundamental principles should be emphasized in today’s environment. We as teachers have to accountable and transparent. Students should have the right to see their examination scripts and get feedback on what went wrong so that the same mistakes are not made again. They need to be given an opportunity to learn even from the mistakes they make in an examination.

5.       New methods of delivery are more required today than ever before. Hearing, seeing and doing have to be incorporated in our educational delivery in the classroom environment. We are not pushing our students to think, we are just forcing information into their heads which is already available on the internet.

6.       Teachers need to walk the talk. They are good at telling what are the right things to do but very poor at being a role model to students. It is all visible to the students in the world we live in.

There are so many other issues that can be discussed but I will hold it for right now. I will still continue to live life on the edge and keep trying to make that small difference that we all need to make. As teachers it is our responsibility to ensure that we have done enough for our children and that they will be able to lead a good life when we are not there.

It is ok to live life on the edge in whatever you do in your life…. Just keep making that small difference..

Happy reading..


Saturday, July 30, 2011

TIMES WE LIVE IN TODAY

                                                
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower view points. We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.
We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We've conquered outer space, but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've split the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait.

We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition. These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring this letter to you.
By: George Carlin

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

FIND YOURSELF TODAY

People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates. ~Thomas Szasz,

 Have you ever been in a situation where you are in a thick jungle and don’t know where to go or find your way back to humanity. May be you have not been in such a situation but certainly you must have been a situation in life when you have thought what do I do now, I am so confused about where do I go from here in life.

If you have thought about it, then you are not alone. In such situations there is a general tendency to focus on what went wrong but we seldom reflect back to understand what went wrong with us as individuals. The trick is to be able to find yourself early enough in life to make a difference for us and for those who we are connected with. In this blog I want to touch up some aspects of finding yourself. These are my personal views and are open to your own interpretations.

Finding yourself is more of an art rather than a science, thus it is something that can be practiced and perfected over a period of time. The seeds of this art are planted fairly early in our teenage years and they continue to grow with us. The more I think of this subject the more I begin to feel and ask questions as to why most people don’t get it right. It all begins with one simple philosophy: Just be true to yourself and everything else will begin to fall in its place. Imagine a typical day in your life and ask this question to yourself and be very honest about your answer. What did I do today and how has it impacted me and the people around me? If you are at the work place, then ask if you have done something that makes you a better person as compared to yesterday. I meet so many people at work place who just kill their time not doing anything. They just wait for the month to be over and to take that salary. Remember that if you accumulate wealth without working for it, the chances are it will go as fast as it came. Some people don’t think of it this way, they feel that everyone else is a fool. They live in a utopia created around them.

The first foundation for finding yourself is to begin to be honest with yourself and you will find all the answers to your problems at work and life in general. But we all define honesty as per our convenience. We feel that not reporting our income for tax purposes is not dishonesty or that it is a socially accepted form of dishonesty. So our tendency is always to justify everything we do wrong as acceptable form of dishonesty. This makes us what we are and not what we should be in the first place. Now please go ahead and ask yourself another question. Have you ever done something where your inner self told you it is wrong? You have your answer..if you are going to be true to yourself. Now don’t become defensive and accept the reality about yourself. This is the beginning of the start of the process of finding yourself.

Now begin to look at life in general as keep asking questions about yourself. If you are going to be true to yourself, then all the answers will come to you and you will begin to see yourself in real light. It will be an awakening that we all need to go through. This does not mean that you will never make mistakes. Remember that mistakes are inevitable in life but mistakes are those that you make with good intent. If your intent of the task is bad to start with then it is not a mistake, it is a planned effort at deception. This type of understanding is required if you want to find yourself.

Have you ever thought of what other people around you think of you as a person? What is it that makes some people very popular and some with who no one wants to associate? Which group do you belong to? Well we all have friends and they will like us. But remember they are supposed to like us as they share the same frequency with you. It is like tow musical instruments being played in perfect harmony. What are those evil designs from within us that don’t allow our frequencies to match with all? I have found that if you have a genuine interest in the welfare of others, you are very likely to have a matching of frequencies. After all our life is too short and we need to learn to care for others. The world is a beautiful creation and the creator has a design for all of us to live in harmony. This is another way to begin to find our self in context of the real world that we live in.

I do hope you will think on the issues listed and begin to find yourself sooner than later..

Happy Journey of finding yourself.