“Why Indian academics would hate me (perhaps my students would not hate me) But why I must tell. An article written 5 years ago. Don’t read if sarcasm bites you, facts trouble you or self deprecation is acceptable but self praise is not (although said as pun such can be misread) … Also why I think certain things better be said, and what were my actual experiences half a decade ago when I wanted to begin a new era in my academic career. And why I still go after this and that if things are not so right. It does not begin until lot has been said about seemingly unnecessary things, but they are perhaps necessary. Usually I would not share or opinionate like this but sometimes I think what the heck. Also I must warn there might be explicit language used. Also I allowed 5 spam comments because at-least they are speaking up. “

My experiences with the Indian Technical education, Sunday October 24, 2010

Okay!!, some time ago I thought I must write a scholarly article about my experiences in Indian academics, so I got ready and poured my thoughts.

I am the kind of guy who always needs some special introduction, at least that’s my way to tell you what I have been doing lately. This is more like, hey, I come from   downtown and this is what I saw. SO please don’t read more to it than there is.

(But) I will always try to give you more, however uninteresting you may find it. I am this great physicist who has been around the world, still going around and I think that’s my tribute to the planetary laws of motion, of which I don’t have any intention to tell you here.

(But) (Since) I told you I have been around the world, lately I have been having a lot of recalls in my mind about what all I have been doing in the last decade, here are two great countries where I have been, where I have lived for a decade, many places where I have had a chance to go and see how education is imparted there.

((SO)) I have been to a bunch of places, which I mentioned in my curriculum vitae,

(Funny like ha ha, now one needs a CV to talk about academics, that’s why we must have the CV of education, science and technology ministers)

I mentioned them in my CV, because, I didn’t see this article coming. The mention in the CV merits no special reason except to tell you the same; please don’t forget who I have been

(I replaced the, who I am with who I have been).

((Now)) I have been an outstanding graduate student at Virginia Tech and I have been a remarkable researcher at KEK international laboratory in Japan.

Apart from that in the Tsukuba area in Japan, where I lived for 3 years I often visited the Tsukuba Daigaku, the famous Japanese University with Nobel Laureates to its credit, none of whom I ever saw except in portraits

(I have a picture where three young hooks are standing in front of 3 NLs; if I find it, I will paste it here).

They have a library in Tsukuba Daigaku, where as a Gai koku Jin (foreigner person) I visited without using my great privileges, such as affiliations to the KEK international laboratory or Amerika na Daigaku na gakuse (student of an American University) but that’s possible as I do not out rightly look like a Waka !!

(Baka des yo, if you repeat that phrase, you will come out like one, A visibly stupid person in Japan)

In Japan, I have also visited the Niigata University for a conference so I have certainly come across their educational system. (Not necessarily son as Niigata is a port town) Now that’s not enough, I have visited pretty many good universities around the United States but the ones that merit some mention are Cornell University,

(I spent a night or two, drove for 10 hours through Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, NY, of course in a SUV, to visit a friend)

Washington State University, St Louis,

(Drove for 12 hours, across 5 states, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, in a rented sedan to visit another friend, spent about half a week, if you go there visit The Arch, the city of St Louis is pretty cold as well but very nice city, people complain about crime, but I thought I can enjoy the cold breeze, the American in me will never die)

And the college of William and Mary,

(Drove there from Blacksburg for 4 hours and spent about a 5 days for a conference,

Its one of the best places,

You visit Richmond the capital, Newport News the city

Where a famous laboratory, Jefferson Lab is located, (located located located located…)

Virginia Beach, a very enjoyable beach town

And historic town Williamsburg,

Which was an early British settlement,

There are pretty good Outlet malls, where do you think I got my Calvin Klein Jeans

And my Nautica winter jacket,

Many nice restaurants, such as a Greek restaurant

Where I devoured Greek cuisine, cuisine cuisine cuisine )

I don’t know much about these Universities but I did spend quite some time at these places so my personal and academic visits inherit some degree of experience that I can relate to my work experience at a college where I taught for 2 semesters as an Assistant Professor.

(But) If I were to be stricter about the reason why my experiences in American university system could be correlated with that in the Indian system, it is from the vast amount of experience I have been having in interacting with academicians from around the globe, pretty much from anywhere in the world, in addition to my own graduate students training and assignments.

I have qualified many exams in the USA as a graduate student and taught many classes and labs so I have literally come across a cross section of all kinds of students from around the USA, which again constitutes of students that immigrated from India or has a connection with or prior experience with the Indian education system. SO in interacting with all these students and knowing their training and background I am very suitably and uniquely placed as an academician myself to compare them with the present status of Indian education system.

(YES, pretty much anyone, but they do not come up with their experiences, neither are they thinking its valuable, just a suggestion)

Again I have had an honors degree and a master’s degree from one of the best universities of India, Utkal University

(Its not elite but its best, when you will study here you will know that actually you like the environment of Utkal more than many elite class Indian Universities, Campus politics which is a realistic phenomena pretty much everywhere in India albeit with different implications, e.g. if you are a JNU product and service you hob nob with the worst politicians of India so you come up like some kind of suave scholar, if you study in Utkal you hob nob with Mr. LL S and the likes so you are counted in par with the worlds best, when I studied I was more like well likeable and still I am I just changed my chromosomes)

Utkal University in the state capital of Odisha produces some of the top-notch researchers and scientists around the world. Its science faculties visit and collaborate in the best places in the world, such as Chicago University, ICTP in Italy and famed institutions in Netherlands.

SO its faculties may be counted among the top teachers and researchers although the Government of India at New Delhi hasn’t been kind enough to make Utkal a central university, which would ensure increase of fund and quality research and teaching facilities and augmentation of the strength of such a center of excellence of India.

On one of the occasions this summer I was attending one conference in the Physics Department of Utkal University where the Vice Chancellor was present to inaugurate this interesting workshop on cosmology. A democratic debate ensued.

The VC comes out to be the winner. I think suave people are often hired to such posts as that of VC. This was not the situation back in (say) 1999, 2001 when I was a student at this Physics Department. A funny looking mathematician was the VC back then.

Now a days, the people of India are becoming much more democratic as can be seen on the popular media. But this I think was not that much of a trend a decade ago. This is a trend set by the financial privileges and if anything the Americans don’t have to fear the new age democratic phenomena in India. We are not going to outsoyrce you on this.

So back in 2000 this funny looking VC who was a mathematician in the same university gave us a talk, which we all were listening with rapt attention. But this suave VC of 2010 was countered with many democratic questions.

We have a reason why we are replacing ideal folks with suave folks. But I had another brush with the ideal funny looking mathematician who will go by the name Mr. Gandalf in the college where I was teaching for 2 semesters, which goes by the name Sth.

In that college this later VC of year 2000 was invited and while he was giving a talk, his cellular was literally spurring out like a mike, in an irritating way the tune of Vakra Tunda Maha Kaya.

It was irritating because all the while giving his talk he cared to take his call at least five times during this talk and the cellular was on high pitch and he could not find the switch for like couple minutes.

(And) When he would be finished with his ideal lecturing about how nature does not have any smooth functions, I popped up with my usual fervor. We have smooth functions everywhere; look at the trajectory of a tennis ball.

Then he goes onto saying smooth functions in quantum mechanics and I am more elated because Mr. Gandalf wouldn’t know who he would be brushing with. I said even in quantum mechanics you have all these smooth functions because we have a wave function equation.

Somebody who was not from the college and accompanied this Mr. Gandalf (stop calling me that, not stop calling him that) then shut me up with a whisker, it wouldn’t have been any one from the college as they had great respect for me and I am hardly ever disruptive.

But I was also very aware of the corporate culture this country is now having a brush with. The reason I say this is because on another occasion the chairman of this college who is the malik (owner, aye malikk tere bande hum) of the college sent a silent messenger to request me not to question as somebody who was talking was conditioned to talk about matters. He was trying to attract the benevolence of the visiting dignitaries from the apex body of technical education of the country known as AICTE and industry.

I intended to come to the relation of private educational institutions of the country and such apex organizations of the country at a later paragraph when I am done with the present experiences with Mr. Gandalf but it just came up to mind.

I have quit my job at this college half a year ago (on ideology) and I have to recount some more stories. But let us be done with the Mr. Gandalf experience. Oh I am already done with him. Somebody shut me up with a whisker.

I was an Assistant Professor at this college and this conference is going on where a great scientist is responding to the banalities of a renowned academician who has written textbooks of Mathematics for university graduates. He apparently thinks that nature is devoid of smooth functions.

I can explain to Mr. 50cent that there is no validity of such a remark, and I can do so with 140-letter restriction on twitter. Of course I may take 3 or 4 tweets. I would say Mr. 50cent somebody is saying your lyric and the sound you are producing is not smooth, for that matter no hip hop is a smooth function not even Eminems.

(But) If you save a cardiogram when you are rapping or take the output of your microphone to a computer and use a some additional tricks you can for yourself see that you are smoother than the voice of George W. Bush or even George Carillons, lets say all the Georges.

It just takes a brilliant person like me to understand this, but desperate mathematicians howsoever talented they think they are don’t understand any of nature’s ways. (But) These utterly educated people are invited on prime respectability because the education that is being offered at these technical organizations is based on the following thinking,

1. Not only mediocrity, a gross lack of responsibility towards quality in education is a far cry.

2. We must not pay heed to such if we were to succeed in our business of education.

SO business is about education. Never. Education is about business, come and see all the private educational institutes in the country, I haven’t seen all of them, but I hear, many places are really good.

What’s happened in Odisha is once given an opportunity to run colleges we have pretty capable people who are running the college, most of them have no interest in education though. The other reason is Odisha does not need too many mediocre colleges because there is a huge mediocre population. We need some outstanding colleges as well.

Government or private the outstanding colleges in Odisha so far has been ZERO, I know some of the reasons, may be I need to write more and more articles, HUNDRED of them, going by my thoughts everyday, of why Neil’s Bohr gets an institution to his credit when he was quite young, in Denmark while I get the tip of the penis, I have been trying to please everyone, or I am just some kind of rash mutineer.

The chairman of this college has business in his mind, no doubt. He is a good person as I found, he was very respectable to me also and I gather that he is very respectable to all the faculties even with an iota of my educational and international expertise. He has to save his enterprise.

On a few occasions I had a conversation with him, he expressed his inability on any enterprise of me that does not churn out money, talk money and I am in, he literally told me. Well, he said Manmohan Babu, what’s the financial return it would produce. He is an industrialist and an academician at the same time.

From my very heart I am grateful to him for giving me the job in the college and promising me funding and office facilities for my research. But the only reason for me not to continue in the college was not his sticking to any of his promise but the rogue environment in the college, which he does not seem to have any interest to fix, because its not financial return.

On many of the occasions the students came to rampant breakage and riots but its popularly understood that they have a stake because they have been funding the college to run. I think it’s a very sad day for Indian academic scenario that these folks broke the college properties on matters of their personal pride, the pride is that their parents are funding the college. On the contrary, they did not show any degree of honorability towards their teachers.

These folks would enter like a great-undisciplined-bunch of tribal and uncivil warriors; right from their appearance you would know they are not the kind that inspires any awe in the teacher to teach them.

Were the teachers any interested to impart education? NO, except the few that were toiling because they were new.  I vividly recall those dark days when the corridors would be filled with uncivilized crowd, but who am I complaining to here, Nobody is thinking its unacceptable, everybody here has a job to save. I just wanted to experience it and I did. I am just a little adventurous.

The only consolations I had for myself were twofold; this is the town that has produced world’s greatest learned scholar

(That’s me, accept it or not, how can someone be so direct, well it took more than a decade to be direct, and will subside on its own, who am I to predict how soon)

And this town is the one where my family lives. Wasn’t this the case 15 years ago when I had my college education here? No darn freaking way.

Oops. I didn’t have a question key in my keyboard, its been dysfunctional as my beloved niece pour some water when I didn’t pay her enough attention, the copy & paste of the question symbol from the dictionary is enlarging the letters. I must stop myself from the temptation of using these. How do I go back? Try magic. Oh it works.

So in my time there was indisciplined behavior from the students and the unregistered students or holy Gaines, as you may like as a description. They were disruptive, they were shouting slogans and invectives, even loudly clear filth.

They even hit the students and teachers alike if need be. But there was a great deal of discipline in the system. If you allow a little iconoclasm here and a little vision to me, it probably was there like this, always.

Our forefathers and great forefathers were possibly like this, by allowing a little softness of conscience, we have possibly changed the economics of our country and we have possibly inherited a great deal of fortune from immoral thinking wherever and howsoever its endorsed.

But in present times, that’s missing from the academic authorities, even at the apex organizations. The system allows corruption, or as you may want to put it. I put it as social, moral, educational and ethical degradation and misconduct and dishonorable practice from the system.

Now the system has been modified to suit the rowdy elements and this is an acceptable affair. If you do not believe my pain in telling you this you never knew that a person ever existed that thought this is not acceptable. But I can not put it any more wet than this. My tears have dried over the eye witnessing affairs of such maladies.

I am not very sure about occurrences elsewhere as I have not eye witnessed them. (But) if I go by the account of many others who are holding respectable positions in the academic organizations this is just true just about anywhere in the state. This is our mentality.

(But) I am still not of the opinion that this is not going to change. I am just of the opinion I am not going to take part in such sordid affairs. I am going to try to change my luck and see if such experiences are going to occur again in a different culture, in a different setting.

If I compare my experiences in places of Japan and USA as I narrated before, I do not believe such is ever going to happen there. Voicing dissent is not taken very kindly. It’s often tried to be understood before its quelled. (But) I am not necessarily right about this.

I have had situations (I have witnessed) where dissent is blown out of proportion often on silly pretexts lets give an example, as silly but as pervasive as racial superiority. Did riotous situations exist in advanced countries (say) a half-century ago. It possibly did.

The present rarefied events of academic bigotry and racial machismo was possibly rampant and was possibly played on upon an innocent internal coterie. If that is so, it’s easy to see that there was strife and social tension because of internal caste and creed among population of the same country (not just India).

(But) It has long come to a generic understanding of how it must have had been dealt with. A great deal of scholarly and scientific enterprise has inspired generations and didn’t soft-pedal on issues of conduct and ethics.

(But) When it comes to ununderstood branches of a community e.g. a branch that comes from as wide and geographically remote spot as India and with its myriad culture and practices, the unethical elements of advanced society can and does play its whim on such unsuspecting participants in the act of education and learning.

Scholarly excellence and independence needs to continue to reinvent itself at a rate faster than the academic bigotry plays its silly and harmful prongs to sting the source of inspiration. Otherwise, the unethical practices of modern society will find a recluse in such inaction.

Apart from such minute observations in a space as unimaginable as my own imagination there is hardly anything as loathing as the practice of academic misconduct in the technical education presently being imparted in India, or at least where I have experienced it.

This is another reason why in the last year I have thought many times that the Vedanta University ambition is becoming a far cry but a spoon of Amruta. Of all people the people of Odisha are culturally and by virtue of their social conscience are the most eligible ones to taste this Amruta,

(Divine juice in Indian folk myth)

(But) Only if they can see for themselves the unethical practices they have been enduring, creating and sustaining caused by their lack of perspective with the outside world, but to blame someone else for this malice would be wishful and the pain will continue.

(And) To wish that this Amruta is coming our way caused by the intentions of those who are ruling our conscience or even ruling us are transparent is a lemon-flavored candy. Its sweet, but a kid can tell you it’s a candy or a white lie.

(And) I am not a kid.

5 thoughts

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