Sunday, November 15, 2009

Anniversary Galore

The month of November and the Year 2009 are unusual in many ways as they are anniversary months for many important events and mark significant milestones.

This is the month when the Foundation Stone of IIIT was laid. IIIT is going to to be 3 years old. We are very young Institute indeed. How will we celebrate our Foundation day? I have asked Prof. Tanitrishna to organize a foundation day debate among the students. This will the topic of my next blog.

This is the year when we have started our B.Tech. programme. We hope to start our Ph.D. programme this year too. We walked on the long corridors of the newly constructed building this year.

Every one is talking about Sachin's 20 years in cricket. Sunil Gavaskar was there for about 17 years. What is Sachin's secret for such long tenure in cricket? To my mind, it is his raw talent, simple life style and staying away form captaincy. The last one is the most important. Most good players after assuming captaincy have lost their touch. Sachin is smart enough to avoid the trappings of captaincy and stick to his core competency: just play cricket.

This month twenty years ago, the Berlin wall came down marking the end of communism. I still remember the debate: will West Germany pull up East Germany or will the East Germany bring down West Germany, Will the combined Germanies lead to another world war. Fortunately, the German nation has not led to another war. The Berlin wall signifies the artificial walls we create to foster our own interest.

This is the fortieth year of Internet. Internet has been a game changing technology. Countries like India have benefited immensely. The penetration of Internet is still slow. We need to hasten this process and the break the digital divide. I watched a Bob Metcalfe (inventor of ethernet) interview on Youtube. He talks about how in 40 years we have got clean and abundant Internet Bandwidth. For him the next challenge is the give the world clean and abundant energy in next 40 years.

This month we celebrate Jawaharlal Nehru's Birth day as the Children's day. My wife who is the president of Innerwheel club, celebrated children's day with the students in Malipada M.E. school near IIIT campus. The condition of the school is bad and there are hardly 25 students in the school. While we extol our achievements in higher education, our primary education is in shambles. We need to ask ourselves what needs to be done to bolster out primary education system.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Busy Week with NPTEL, Damascus Sword and Nebula

Last week was a unusually busy one.

To start with Prof. Roddam Narasimha visited IIIT on last sunday. He was on his way back to Bangalore from BPUT convocation. I had written about him earlier.

Prof. Mangala Sundar of IIT Madras visited BPUT in connection with NPTEL. I was there in my capacity as the Chairman of ICT committee of BPUT. He wanted more discussion with me. So I invited him to IIIT. He discussed NPTEL and other issues with me. I have experimented a lot with Technology Enabled Learning in the past. I shared my experience with him. He appreciated that a lot and wanted our involvement in NPTEL development.

Prof. Omkar Nath Mohanty visited to address the students. He spoke about his research on development of auto-body parts. Fluent, incisive, and lucid was his talk. He, of course, aout damascus sword and India's metallurgical prowess in the millenia gone by. I demonstrated our Hibiscus to him. He had a look around the campus and expressed his appreciation.

Finally, there was nebula. The students were planning for a party to welcome themselves since there are no seniors to welcome them. I told them that I will extend all support. They came out with an idea to invite some DJ. I told them that IIIT is about show casing student talent not a DJ's. They took my message and prepared well. They prepared a budget and discussed with the faculty about their plans.

On sunday (today), I reached about 10 minutes after 11 in the campus. The students told me that they will be about 20 minutes late. The programme began about 45 minutes behind schedule. The first few items were tentative with many hiccups. The girls danced with practically no music as the sound system could not be connected. Then the tempo picked up. Things got better as the time went on. There were dance, play, mimicry, quizzing, musical chair and many others. The students got the audience involved. They involved the faculty in a few items.

The anchoring was very good. Quite a few students participated. I was very happy with the quality of the programme.

Then, there was lunch. The students organized a banquet style lunch for the faculty. The students were very indulgent and fussed a lot over little conveniences of the faculty.

One can see a strong bonding developing among the students and Institute and the Faculty. I hope it continues to flourish and every student get an opportunity to exhibit his/her talent.