Friday, June 28, 2013

My Published Articles

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This blog post is a compilation of all my articles that got published in newspapers and magazines in India.
The Hindu Education Plus, June 24, 2013
The Hindu Education Plus, September 10, 2012
It's fun, it's practical
The Hindu Education Plus April 11th
  The Hindu Education Plus April 18th
Careers360 Magazine October 2011

Careers360 Magazine November 2011
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Sunday, June 16, 2013

When Any One Can Get Into Engineering...

When I was on vacation in Trivandrum one parent with his son came to meet me. The boy has just completed 12th standard and they want to talk to me about engineering admission. This was the conversation we had.
Father: I am very happy today.
Me: Why?
Father: Yesterday Kerala government reduced the eligibility criteria for engineering admission. Now my son also can get a seat for engineering in Kerala.
Father: Exactly. My son has only 47% in Maths but he has 64 and 62 percentage in Chemistry and Physics respectively. I was planning to send him to Tamil Nadu for his engineering where there is no minimum cut-off but now I can get him a seat in Trivandrum itself.
Me: Which branch of engineering he wants to take?
Father: We are not particular about any branch but our dream for him is to get a job in companies like Infosys or TCS. We have a neighbor who did Electronics and Communication from xxx college, graduated in 2005, joined Infosys through campus placement and for the last 7 years in US. He has already built two big houses in Trivandrum.
Me: Do you know that as per the present selection criteria of companies like TCS or Infosys you son may not be even eligible even to appear for campus placement?
Father: What are you talking about?
I switched on my laptop and showed him the minimum eligibility criteria (as per this year) to appear for written test in those companies where he wanted his son to be placed. In majority of the places the eligibility was over 60% marks in 12th standard like the one given below.
Father: This was really an eye-opener for me and son. Thanks for sharing. Why do colleges take students with low marks even when they know they cannot be given jobs? There are colleges outside Kerala that needs only 40% marks in Physics, Chemistry and Maths in 12th standard to get admission for engineering.
Me: They want to fill the seats somehow and make money out of it. Who cares about students and their job?
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Heard in Andra Pradesh – Around 2.1 lakh students qualified for engineering in Andra Pradesh but do you know the number of engineering seats available? 3 lakhs!
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With over 2 lakh engineering seat vacant in four Southern states of India in 2012, I forsee a major evolution in engineering education happening in India in next five years. Many engineering colleges that mushroomed in the last one decade is going to close down. In another 5 years engineering is going to be one of the many options available to students.
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Friday, June 14, 2013

Feedback That Motivates Me to be a Better Teacher

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I was little skeptical with myself when I decided to take up the job of a faculty in a University in India in 2010. Unlike my wife who had two years of teaching experience I had no prior experience in teaching. But with the kind of feedback I got in the last two years from the students, knowingly or unknowingly I now know that I have chosen the right career.
I took a course “Advanced Wastewater Treatment” for graduate class this summer and at the end of the semester I asked them to write and give it to me positives and negatives you found in my teaching. I always do this exercise so that it helps me immensely in improving as a teacher. Here are the comments I got from my students.
With all of my heart I can say that your class is the only one class I haven't slept a single minute in my entire student life. It cannot be said that your teaching is great but it has some charm in it. It is not what you teach but how you teach which is attractive. i am a die hard fan of your lines "this is not for your exam point of view but for your understanding", which I feel like a bang on the face of those who are running behind marks alone. Connecting your practical knowledge in teaching is spot on and is very useful for us in knowing how things work in real world.

The assignments given specially the mass balance and others are really one of a kind and have never experienced such kind of happiness in doing assignments in any other subjects. Your anytime help policy is one thing to be appreciated and your special care to those who are in need is really inspirational.One problem i felt like is that at times you feel confused with  what u have written but then you will come with the solution as fast as possible. I have always felt that we should have had you from the first semester itself.

No need to mention your question papers. The best exams I have ever written. i like your creativity!

I always envy my juniors having a programme manager like you. Sir, I have a humble request that please take care of our juniors from getting divided. I wish to see a bunch of juniors who don’t have groups in tension and people who take unanimous decisions for achieving their own desires.

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The way you teach the subject is very practical oriented and innovative which might actually help us to face real time problems in the industry. Especially the assignments you give and the way you frame the question paper improves our analyzing skills and spontaneity. Your approach actually motivates us to understand the subject and learn with interest than study for exam point of view. When I got your first CAT question paper I really thought the invigilator has confused with the English paper but when I realized it is our question paper I was tensed and was confused how to answer. It has been always a totally different experience answering your papers. I like the way you communicate with the class through your mails. Your way of teaching is quite different and let it be the same sir that actually makes the course unique and interesting.
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I would just like to brief up not saying much about your teaching skills. There is not much need to improve upon it as you know your experience very well how and what all difficulties you faced in your studies. Your teaching is more practical rather than just learning from books. All those fun, creative and learning assignments were awesome. The subjects you taught us were of my interest and yes I enjoyed learning it with you as my teacher. Looking your examination question paper I must say I realized how you worked hard to make it. The most interesting one was article on "Biological treatment" for Hindu newspaper in general people words understanding. Notes you gave were up to mark and just sufficient to make us understand the basic concepts. It would have been much better if we you had taken us to a well build up waste water treatment plant like a industrial visit.  Whenever you give assignment it would be better if you handle the doubts and problems faced during completing it rather asking to understand from the other students who have already completed it.  Otherwise I never had any problem. You have given us every information on time through mail or message. There was no burden felt for your subjects. Learning Microsoft Excel in a better way was good. The combination of use of Board and presentation was perfect. Learning in your class was fun with more interaction from your experiences and teaching. Just this all I observed and analyzed. Thank you sir
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Positive things
1- u are very friendly ...so it wont hesitate us to ask any question or to share our problem.
2- u are really strong in concepts about waste water treatment.......and ur notes are really good it will help in our future.
3- please don’t mind sir but I like your balancing between personal life and professional life ........
Negative things
1- u r very busy...
2- sir please make your ppt at least little attractive ....ha ha.
3- sir u r really strong in your concepts but sometimes Ii feel that u wont able to express all the things that u want to teach us for a particular topic.
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I take this opportunity to thank you for offering not just two courses but also for helping us to think in more realistic and practical way. Your way of class was more interesting but some time felt you never made class rooms so interesting us entertained us in our exams. Being an average student i felt little inferior when in class but only thing which made us comfortable is your advices that need we not mug up things just understand. I today can proudly tell that i know something in your subject more then any other one. 
sir you always made sure people feel comfortable in all means and the best thing about is your exams i in ma life never wrote or saw any questions of such immense effort to make people think for 3 hours rather then mug and vomit something in the exam sheet i may not have written that great in your papers but really i tried cracking my head so that i thought for while which we biotech people normally don't do.
You made as feel more relaxed by sending mail and your FB updates on latest issues was such a kind gesture. I felt we know you late sir, don't why there was a gap in first semester and sometimes felt like that you really hated me for my handwriting upon which i didn't have any control and i think cant be easily changed as considering my age please forgive me for that sir. Your very innovative in giving assignments and truly believe any teacher would have asked as to go through You Tube and find things. Sir your subject is and will be always a unique one for me.
Wishing you a very success in future.....  
 Thumps Up and Cheers….
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It was really a nice and different experience in sitting your classes. The best thing i liked is, you were the one who did things on the basis of student’s future benefits. You used to tell in class always don’t learn anything on the exam point of view. You taught us all the real concepts behind the subject. This was the only subject were we used time to understand things more than mugging up the theory parts. The way you teaches the subject is really good and if we miss any classes we found it very difficult to understand the subject. Even though you never used to take attendance also we made a point to attend all your classes. Whereas most of the other classes we used to attend only for attendance. So you are the one who proved that students will attend classes even if there is no attendance provided the classes are interesting. 
But i found very difficult in attending your question papers since its beyond our standards. And I used to get panicked most of the times. But we all have a confidence that we  all pass for the exam except we don’t know whether it l affect our grades.
As a teacher you are one of the most respected one who is able to understand each students capability. Since i was from biotech background i found designing part very difficult to understand. But you made your classes lively. It was really a wonderful experience for me and we all are going to miss that.
God bless you Sir.
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A few positives I would like to mention. Your way of conveying things to us is very effective, like you include videos, process diagrams and all. I am pretty sure that everyone who has taken your subjects now knows the entire wastewater treatment process. It was taught in such a way that we won't forget it. I have came across only a few Teachers who has that ability. You are always open to suggestions and you always take our convenience and time limits into consideration. You always make it a point that you will set a question to estimate our level of understanding, which was an entirely new experience as far as I am concerned and we all understand how much time you had spend to set such papers.
Coming to the negatives, I don't have much to say, apart from the fact that you rarely used to inform us regarding class cancellation before coming to class, but we all enjoyed the free hours.
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Truly speaking sir I really enjoyed your class. One class in which I was wide awake all the time. Your classes gave me a good idea about the entire wastewater treatment process and actually we were all lively throughout your entire classes. Your exam papers were the best sir. Even though I used to get tensed seeing the paper, I used to like solving the questions. And the best thing I liked about you sir was that you considered all the students alike and made sure that all had good marks. After two semesters of your class sir, I feel we really missed you in the first semester. I am really happy that you have become our program manager and you have been always approachable for all of you.
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Firstly Sir, i want to mention that, I am very much satisfied from the marks that I got in 2nd sem, because at that time I was not satisfied with my attempt due to some minor fracture in my feet and even I was even 20 min late for the exam.
Secondly, I really appreciate the way you design the question papers and your attempt to make us clear all our basics through challenging assignments. I am very much confident that both the subjects Industrial and Advance wastewater Treatment and extra basics related to the designing of waste water treatment plants will really help us in our future and  9 months project. Last but not the least, I am very thankful for your contribution and efforts made by you during the whole period of our course under your valuable guidance and hope the same for the future.
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 When i joined V.I.T, i was very scared about adjusting to environment here. As i am being completely from North , i heard about south and the lifestyle here. And it was a dream that came true to be a V.I.T ian. I was very scared that how should I interact with the faculty here. But it was so great that you have been assigned as our faculty. it was great experience to study under you sir. You were so friendly, enthusiastic and focused towards us. You always tried to help us in every situation.You were so motivating in your lectures and for other things also. With your assignments, we started thinking logically and solving them, and not by Cramming the things. The Papers set up by you were really challenging and Every time we learnt a new thing from it. it was really a great opportunity to be your Student.
Hope I will be able to rise up to the expectation of my students in the future also.
I am writing on Be Bold Stay Real at BlogAdda

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Sunday, June 02, 2013

'Shoes of the Dead' - Truth Wins in the Battle Between Inheritances Of Despair and Power.

Welcome to the political fiction “Shoes of the Dead” by Kota Neelima, which is refreshing and read worthy. Honesty and integrity prevails in the skirmish between inheritances of despair and power.
The stories of the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra are the soul of the book. In the author Neelima’s own words “a principle premise of the book is that the best democracy is one that has the maximum capacity to evolve according to the needs and aspirations of the society”.
Here is a gripping tale embroidered of famers’ suicides and their desolation at Mityala , the tenets of journalism and the political doctrines. As the author righty states “Like individuals, even nations can choose their destinies. The search for a better destiny defines a nation, as it does an individual.”
Sudhakar Bhadra of Gopur village in Mityala, commits suicide by consuming poison as he is trampled by the successive crop failures and burden of debt. But   the high power district suicide committee of Mityala dismisses it as  due to depression and alcoholism and makes his family ineligible for the compensation of Rs. One lakh  given by the Government in cases of suicides due to debt.  Aggreived by this, his brother Gangiri, who is educated and is working as a teacher in the city , leaves his profession and  comes to Gopur to fight for the farmers’ suicides. So here’s the inheritance of despair and distress due to poverty, indebtedness, land fragmentation, private money lending, technological stagnation and the lack of follow up on welfare schemes.    On the other hand is the inheritance of power in politics personified by Keyur Kashinath M.P. of Mityala, son of  Vaishnav Kashinath who is the party’s General Secretary. How Gangiri becomes the member of the Suicide Committee, how he solves the woes farmers’ suicides and encounters the challenges made by the men in power, supported on both sides by constructive journalism and how the truth prevails in the end is the beautiful story of this “novel” novel.       
The depiction of the characters of Gangiri the educated farmer, Vadrangi his friend, Keyur the young politician, Vaishnav the seasoned politician, Prabhakar Nazar the journalist, Dr. Videhi, the official from Centre of cotemporary societies who is deeply interested in annihilation of the distress of farmers is realistic and convincing. The author merits appreciation for the portrayal of persons of the Suicide committee like the apatra Lambodar , the Maha sarpanch, Durga Das the lecherous money lender , GauriShankar the Second Maha sarpanch, Dr.Hemant Rao , a conscientious doctor with limited powers , Jivan patel , the district’s agricultural officer, and Sitabai the former Sarpanch , which could be possible after a good amount of research in this regard. The farmers’ innocence and their resignation to fate is well described. The various nuances of the educated society, but the share of the positive and optimistic few including the young politician confirms the author’s commitment for building a better society.
This is a must read book and a must buy book. Thank you Neelima for the lovely literary creation and hope you will churn out to the readers many more such enlightening experiences.
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