Friday, September 28, 2007

Shifted house to Peermade.. Good Luck MBC !!

After staying in the MBC College campus in B3, family quarters for almost a year, yesterday we have shifted to a decent flat in Peermade, behind the State Bank of Travancore.

A hartal call given by BJP against the recall of Raju Narayana Swamy as Idukki dist collector and rain initially disrupted the transportation of the household items. But luckily the rain subsided and even though in the dark, we could move the items from the college campus to Peermade.

This morning, Friday, 28 September 097, kids have gone to school and I am in the college. Getting relieved on Saturday, 29 sept.

After a very momentous stint here, i am feeling bad at leaving the students here. Even though I get to teach PG students at XIME, the love and affection from the students here is something I am going to miss for a long time. The MGOCSM, the church choir, the Mechanical Engg students Association ARME, Association of Radiant Mech Engineers, Samasya , the cultural fest of MBC, I miss al those things. Also the extreme cold in the midst of tea estates. I cannot forget my ten day stay in the Sahyadri Ayurvedic hospital at Pothupara, near to our campus, for massage.

The PTA meetings of the college, the St Pius X school, the encounters with Sr Georgina etc is very fresh in my memory. The frequent trips during weekends and holidays to Kottayam and Ernakulam will be something which I will miss very much. The bad roads between Kuttikanam and Mundakkayam and the smooth road for the rest of the journey upto kottayam on the KK Road is unforgettable.

In another two days I will be packing off from Peermade to Bangalore to join XIME. I will keep coming oncxe every month to meet family.

One year of my leave from Goa is over. Another year more. The experience at XIME will be treasured for life.

If the HR policy was better at MBC, I could have continued there also motivated lot of others to stay back. Discipline is a must for good functioning of any Institute. But to dream of getting that by using the danda is an immature state of mind, that is what IO have to say to the authorities. Their planning is very likely to hit back with greater intensity.

Wish MBC and it's faculty and students all the best.

Let the Orthodox Church and it's priests be able to continue to run this Institution before somebody else takes it over. Because it is not any body's property. it is the faith and trust reposed by the millions of believers of the Indian Orthodox Church which is seeing the Institution through many difficult phases in its history and will see it through into the future.

All the best MBC.

George easaw

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Transition to a business school ..

I have always wondered how it would be like to move from an engineering school to a business school ? Engineering offers you technology and what does a b school teach you ? How to do business ? Yes, that is also a tough thing. How you collect the resources and what you are going to do with them and doing it in the most efficient and cost-effective way. B-school in short teaches you exactly that.

My research and Masters degree was influenced after my industry experience to a great extent. Industrial experience and the theory of Industrial Engg taught me how important it was to utilise resources optimally. In Industrial Engineering I learnt about Industry and running it with quantitative tools like those from Operations Research, Linear Programming, Dynamic programming, Queueing theory, Game theory, Project management tools and so on. It revolved around Computer systems, databases, Productivity, Japanese Production philosophy, Supply Chains, Revenue management etc.. My pet areas where I have worked and would like to teach PG students. The opportunity to interact with industry professionals, learn from them and in turn teach them something new and consult with them is what makes a position in teaching and research exciting. Else teaching would be a very boring affair. I had started to feel traces of boredom in my present assignment already.

In an engineering school at UG we get to teach the top students. Barely five percent of engineers would like to pursue an engineering PG course as a higher qualification as most are enticed by the industry and pursue a course in business administration. We cannot blame them as that is where the money is and enough job opportunities too.

The next ten twenty years we are going to see booming business and trade opportunities in India and China and also by the developed countries with India. This needs hordes of business professionals to run the Indian economy and help it to emerge as the top economy in the world in the coming years.

By joining a reputed B school finally I get to teach high quality students. At Xavier inst of Management and Entrepreneurship at Bangalore, (Electronics City, phase II, Hosur Road), I look forward to great intellectual interactions and an intellectually satisfying work environment. Electronic City Bangalore is presently the most happening place in the knowledge Industry of the country, it would not be an exaggeration to say that it is so in the world, with all IT majors having their offices / sweatshops there. That is where the growth and action really is. As I repeatedly mentioned in the interview, I do not wish to miss out on this action.

The XIME Bangalore campus is spacious situated on both sides of the road at the entrance to Phase II of the Electronics City on the Hosur Road.. The facilities are good, the boarding and hostel facilities for the students, 240 in number and better than those offered in Goa Inst of Management, Ribandar, where I was teaching Operations for two terms in 2005. I went around the campus and the labs, library on Saturday 15 Sept .

I hope the transition from engg to business school will be smooth and cool. I am confident of jelling with the crowd here well. Also it is great to be in Bangalore, where lot of action is happening. After reading Thomas Friedman's World is Flat, I have always wanted to be here to catch a part of the action and be part of the future of India.

Planning to join XIME ( by early Oct 2007 as their second term of this academic year starts by Oct 3rd.

With each passing day I am inching closer and closer to my life dreams and ambitions. I have to thank God almighty for guiding me so carefully and smoothly through all turbulent times in life and all my near and dear, a great supporting wife, for being by me through times thick and thin.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Can India make it to the top in automobiles?

Tata Motors along with Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford, General Motors, Skoda, Volkswagon, Mercedes are presently competing with each other for the market share in automobiles in India. Hyundai, Maruti and Tata Motors models are presently the top selling ones in the country. how long will this continue ? Will any one company be able to establish it's control over the market and squeeze the others out ?

Let us analyse the situation from a layman's perspective. The middle class is now completely moved over to four wheelers. The upper middle class had completed the transition some time back. The focus of the auto makers are now on the lower middle class wooing them to make the switch from two wheekers to four wheelers and ofering them lot of enticements to do so. The upper middle class have slowly started switching from the medium autos to the expensive, gas guzzling, luxurious ones. Some families even have three automobiles at home. As usual with economic development there is also shortage of parking spaces in housing societies / residences for parking these extra vehicles.

Will Tata Motors ever make it to the top three slot in the world by effecting a merger / acquisition of General Motors. there was a rumour onec about that possibility immediately after the Corus steel takeover by Tata steel. If that happens there will be a great consolidation in the automobile market in the world.

The present world leaders are Toyota, GM, Ford and Daimler Chrysler in that order. When will Tata make it to the top is a big question for which Indians are looking for an answer. Tata's present offering, the Tata Indica, petrol, diesel version and the Indigo coupe and Mareena hatchback models are top selling models in the market.

Let us wait and see.

George easaw

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Munnar, Ponmudi and so on.. Malayali's never-ending shame ..

Munnar and Ponmudi are two instances of land encroachment and exhibition of private greed over public interests which has rocked Kerala society the past three months. The great enthusiasm and high moral ground which the former opposition leader and present Chief MinisterShri V S Achuthanandan had taken while in the opposition regarding many public issues and the present silence on these issues has dented his image beyond repair inMalayali minds.

The shameless and spineless Achuthananthan has reiterated to the poor Malayali that his popular speeches and marches then were only to while away time, and private greed and selfish party interests are what finally means to him in the race to keep his arse hot on theCM's chair. He has shown beyond any doubt that his priorities are first to the party (with allegiance to the broken Russia and the resurgent China) and only then to the poor Malayali and Kerala. A true son of the land !!

It remains to be seen when the intelligent poor Malayali inside Kerala (and the lucky ones outside) will see through these cheap games of Sakhavu and his pimps and kick them out of public sight for ever !!


One day and twenty20 cricket - commercialising cricket ..

The twenty20 cricket world cup has started in South Africa on 11 sept 07. There are great hopes and aspirations of this world cup among the cricket playing countries of the world. The motivating factors behind such shorter versions of the game is the main focus of this article.

Almost a hundred years back, cricket had it's history as a pasttime being resorted to by the shepherds of England whiling away time while grazing their sheep. It then caught the attention of the elite in England with framing of the rules and the competition mode came up. The five day version was the competition mode of cricket with each side getting two innings to pile up a total alternatively and the winner
decided on who got the biggest total. The number of wickets which was lost in arriving at the total and the number of runs by which a team won were prestige issues among cricket playing nations. The traditional rivalry between England and Australia in the Ashes and the bloodline series are great events in the history of cricket. The game soon spread to the other English colonies across the world.

Around early 1980s, Kerry Packer, the media businessman from Australia running channel 9 started the limited one day version of the game exciting with coloured cricket balls used to bowl initially sixty overs a side and then reduced to fifty overs a side. The earlier white dress gave way to coloured dresses. Many an exciting contests got through and many world cups, India won thePrudential World Cup in 1983 in England ( I was fortunate enough to be in front of the TV in Trivandrum, Kerala to watch the full match running late into the night) made the game very popular in not only the cricket playing nations but across the world. With improved popularity of the game, advertisers started flocking to the people holding telecast rights and big money was there to be made. Some of the great players made enough money for at least the next five generations in a short span of five to ten years.

I was really surprised to recently hear of the still smaller version of the game, with twenty overs being bowled by each side, with a match not going beyond four hours at the most.

The test version of the game concentrated on the style and techniques of the game. The game which had no time limit was later restricted to five days with a rest day in between and later on even that was done away with. The tenacity of the team to withstand pressure, hold on and being able to play for long durations were onsidered qualities befitting a cricketer. It was very surprisingly that fortunes of the game changed. A team which was favourably placed in the morning used to get out by tea time and the opposing team used to enter the field. The play time which was restricted to six hours a day, two hours before lunch , two hours before tea and two hours before close of play of the day, had an extra fifty mandatory overs on the final day after the final post tea session. These mandatory overs saw the end results of many a game in test cricket history.

A hectic lifestyle of the people and shortage of time to watch the game for five full days led to interest being shown to the limited version of one day cricket which lasted for seven to eight hours. The latest entry of twenty20 lasting for three to four hours is a still limited version and for the first time a world cup is being organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to popularise this version of the game. The game is more or less acquiring the status of a base ball game, getting over pretty fast and sadly or not, the focus isgetting shifted from the techniques and style, stressing on gentlemanly qualities to the brash hitting of the ball where fitness and strength is valued more than technique, in short brains are getting replaced bybrawns.

Whether this change is for the better future of the game or whether commercial interests are corrupting the game, only time can tell.

George easaw

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My writings of the past three years, 2004-07

You are welcome to go through the link given below to view the articles I have written on various topics during the past three years and which have been published on different websites and conferences. All the documents are portable document format (pdf) articles and needs to be downloaded and can be read using adobe reader.

Click here to read the articles..

Your comments are very much welcome.

Dr George Easaw

Friday, September 07, 2007

What a cricket match on Wednesday night ? 5 sept 07

The India England 6 th ODI of the Natwest Trophy was a nail biter. England posted a total of 316 in their innings and India took up the batting. Sachin blasted a neat 94 and unluckily got out. Tragic..

But Saurav and Dhoni took it over from there. It was not over yet. Robin Uthappa batted very well and was instrumental in clinching the match for India. His terrific unconventional, brave strikes for four during the last two overs was a real treat for the eyes. When the English fans looked for a certain English victory, Uthappa turned the tables and crafted a superb victory for India. Four runs needed off the last three balls and he hit Broad for a four to finsh off the match in style. The way Yuvraj was coming to hug him, even got the security guards on their feet.

The stage is now set for an exciting final ODI, the seventh at Lords on Saturday. The match starts at 2.30 PM and the whole of India will be surely watching the match. Me too..

Too hot !! Wish India all the best in the match.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Successful GSLV launch and the salvaged Indian Pride..

It was the launch of Sputnik by the Russians in 1957 which sparked the imagination of the father of Indian space programme Dr Vikram Sarabhai to dream of being able to explore outer space for the benefit and development of India. With the guidance from Jawaharlal Nehru, the then father of Indian Nuclear programme Homi Bhabha started the Indian Space Programme under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). He called it the Indian National Committee for Space research (INCOSPAR) with Dr Sarabhai as Chairman in 1962. From launching the first US made Nike-Apache sounding rockets in 1962 to the photo perfect launch of GSLV F04 on 2 September 2007, India Space Programme has come a long way.

The photo (courtesy The Hindu, L to R, B N Suresh, Director VSSC, TVM, G Ravindranath, Mission Director GSLV, Dr. G Madhavan Nair, Chairman ISRO and Prahalada Rao, Satellite Director, Satellite Director Insat 4 CR) showing a jubilant launch team. Dr. G. Madhavan Nair has credited the large team of Scientists and Engineers from all of ISRO for the success of the GSLV launch.

The Geo-Stationary Satellite Launch Vehicle -GSLV F04, blasted off in a perfect liftoff at 6.21 PM on 2 nd September 2007 from the Satish Dhawan Launch Centre, Sriharikotta, AP and placed the 2130 kg Insat - 4CR satellite in GSO and an Israeli spy satellite in low earth orbit.

There are mainly two technologies, and some other in developing, which have been demonstrated to the world by the proud Engineers and Scientists of ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organisation carrying and coordinating their work from different parts of the country. From Space Applications Centre,Ahmedabad, to Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Trivandrum, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, Satish Dhawan launch centre, Sriharikotta, and doing post launch monitoring from the Master Control facility at Hassan, Karnataka.

The first technology is of the launch vehicle, The GSLV, the geostationary launch vehicle, capable of placing satellites in geosynchronous orbits. By this successful launch, in the words of the Chairman ofISRO, Dr Madhavan Nair, the reliability and dependability of the most powerful GSLV systems now in it's fifth launch have been demonstrated to the world. Of the earlier five launches, GSLV D1, D2, F01, F02 and now the F04, only the fourth one, GSLV F02, launched in July 2006 was aborted 56 seconds after launch due to loss of developed thrust in one of the four strap-on liquid propellant motors. All these GSLVs have placed satellites ranging from 1950 kgs (Edusat) to 2350 kgs in Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). The GSLV has the cryogenic third stage (the cryogenic engines have been given by Russia and indigenous technology is in an advanced stage having already been demonstrated for time duration of about a minute). This launch is a morale booster for the next stageGSLV - MIII which can place heavier payloads in GTO.

The second technology was that of the capability to build advanced satellites for the communication system in the country. The INSAT ( Indian National Satellite) is the largest satellite communication system in the Asia Pacific region with ten satellites in service. TheINSAT 4CR has 12 Ku transponders and is a boost for the DTH transmission in the country, can enhance Digital News Gathering Service (DNGS), VSAT and other high bit rate data transmission services besides meteorological imaging.

Antrix Corporation, the commercial wing of ISRO, interacting with customers wanting to launch payloads into space, ia happy as India now offers low cost launching of payloads, which is a direct threat to the other major space technology powers of US, Russia, China and France. With indigenous development of cryogenic technology which provides more thrust for each kilogram of on board propellant burnt, in comparison to the solid and liquid first and second stages, the cost of launches can be brought down still further, The augmentation of theGSLV MIII series will be a big booster as heavy combination of payloads (upto 4 tonnes) can be launched in a single launch. The supersonic scramjet reusable launch vehicles will bring down the payload launching costs to one tenth of what it is today. Presently India is the only country besides US which has developed the air-breathing, super sonic scramjet technology, which is being developed further for early commercialisation.

george easaw

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Status of self-financng engineering education in Kerala.

The status of self-financing engineeeing education in India, specially Kerala

Kerala for many years has been rated as the state with the highest literacy in India. It is the state where boys and girls are encouraged to study as much and as far as they can. Parents always go out of their way to encourage their wards to shine in the field of education, be it technical, medical, legal, pure sciences, commerce or the arts.

With the liberalisation, privatisation and globalization (LPG) phenomenon happening unabated in the world, it was natural to expect it to catch up in the country. It has indeed caught up in the country in all spheres of life with great enthusiasm, it is only logical to expect this enthusiasm to spread in the educational field, ie. technical, medical and management education field. The engineering field was the first to grab this growing field and we have seen the mushrooming of technical educational institutions in the country.

Having been associated with the engineering industry, research and teaching for the past twenty years, here are some musings regarding the status of self-financing engineering education in India and specially in Kerala.

Engineering education has mainly four aspects to it. They are infrastructure, quality of faculty, quality of students and the academic environment.

1. Infrastructure refers to the classrooms, laboratories, computational facilities, Internet, audio video facilities and recreational and extra curricular facilities.
2. Quality of faculty refers to the educational qualifications / expertise of the faculty, the years of experience and publications profile of the teaching and non-teaching staff of the institution.
3. Quality of students refers to the quality / intellectual capability of the incoming students. Usually this is reflected in the rank secured by the student in the entrance examination or the qualifying examination conducted by the board / university.
4. Academic environment refers to the environment in the institution to enable high quality academic, curricular and extra curricular interaction between the students and the faculty, the number of working days available in a semester, the hours of interaction per week, the functioning hours of the Library, computer centre, Internet Lab, departmental labs, office and so on. The availability of the faculty members for the students to clear their doubts / interact, especially during a long weekend is of vital importance.

Growth of Engineering education in the country - birth of Government Engineering Colleges and self financing engineering institutions.

Engineering colleges run by the Central government (IITs, IISc ), combinedly between the central and state government ( NITs) and exclusively by the state governments (COEs) and the aided ones (aided by the state government) were the engineering establishments which were functioning in the country till a few years back. It was practically impossible for the private sector to enter the engineering education field just after independence considering the exorbitant capital and running costs incurred in running such an institution. An exception is the Birla Institute of Technology at Pilani, Rajasthan and Mesra, Ranchi, Bihar. It has been recently that trusts and private individuals have been granted permission by the AICTE to start engineering colleges in the self financing sector. As such the earlier colleges started by the government had the benefit of getting the best teaching faculty and good infrastructure suited to the times thirty years back. They have also developed a strong alumni network who help the institute in cash and in kind and help raise the reputation. Thus these government engineering education has the best students and faculty, experienced and qualified but lacks infrastructure which suits the present times and more often than not, a good academic environment.

Private self financing engineering colleges on the other hand have good infrastructure, ( as it is developed lately) and a disciplined, high school style environment, though not a truly academic one. The poor quality of faculty and generally poor quality of students are characteristic of these institutions at the initial stages. But as the institution grows and the student and parent community are convinced of the commitment and dedication of the management to the cause of providing top class engineering education and the facilities provided to the faculty to teach at post graduate level and carry out research, high quality students and faculty are attracted..

The problem with faculty at the initial stages of growth of a self financing engineering institution is because they do not have a good financially remunerative system and an intellectually nourishing environment with benefits and pivileges for the teaching faculty as is being offered in government institutions. The faculty therefore tend to migrate to better institutions offering better remuneration and benefits. The constant migration of the faculty affects the teaching learning pocess and the students get a bit fed up with the new inexperienced and low quality faculty joining the institutins year after year and leaving soon after they gain the required experience. It is highly desirable that the top management understand this critical and crucial turn of events in the growth of an institution and try to retain well qualified, experienced and good teaching faculty to retain an good academic environment in the college.

Ease of correct, high quality decision making is an important area of concern in a dynamically changing and developing educational field. While government institutions have to wade their way through a myriad of controls, permissions, budgets and approvals, the case is not so in self-financing institutions. The decision making is comparatively fast and hence effective in the long run. The financial and administrative autonomy reflects in high quality infrastructure and motivates the faculty to perform.

Regarding students it is an interesting phenomenon as students behaviour varies in many ways. Not all students are much worried about the institution they join than the proximity of the institution to their place of residence. Their familiarity to the institution, its environs, presence of known friends as seniors in the institution are all major factors in selecting the engineering institution from the student focus. The parents on the other hand look at the financial implications. The best students in Kerala we find opt for the government engineering colleges becuase it offers quality education at low fees, though the number of academic days available is lmited due to the presence of politics and strikes in the college. Also the faculty are unaccountable for the poor performance of the students, if any, as the students are more free and intellectually much more capable of looking after themselves. But there are cases of brilliant students coming out og govt institutions with no knowledge of the subject as they have had least interaction with the teachers.

The library is an important facility in engineering colleges. It is generally found that govt institutions generally have good libraries while it is poor in many self financing institutions. Even if the self financing institutions have good facilities, the staff manning the library is poorly qualified leading to sub-optimal utilization. Outside the classroom it is the library which imparts maximum knowledge to the students. Nowadays we find there is less inclination from the students to enter the library and do extra subject reading from reference and other text books to complete their assignments and seminars, than what they get from the digital domain through the medium of the Internet. No doubt the Internet is growing and is an instant and very large warehouse of information, but unless one is very careful, he / she can get inaccurate and wrong information. The Internet as a medium of interaction and communication between faculty themselves, between faculty and students and among students themselves from across the world is a force which cannot be underplayed. Self financed engineering institutions have a strong Internet bandwidth while many government institutions are just coping with poor bandwidth and below par computing infrastructure.

The good thing about the Internet is that it is beneficial for all students from medical, engineering and management fields. The speed and the ease with which information can be gathered about different diseases in the medical field and about companies for management students besides concepts and technologies in the engineering sphere makes the Internet a veritable store house of information and the modern students constant companion. The advances in Information Technology and the hardware costs spiralling down with passing days has made the laptop computer a compulsory paraphernalia in many engineering and management institutions.

Initially there was scepticism regarding the entry of private managements, trusts and individuals in the engineering education field. Basically it is because some individuals without prior experience in the field tend to make some decisions which could adversely affect the student community. There is a limit to the extent which government can fund higher education and the onus now rests on the private managements, individuals and trusts to provide the missing link and chip in to help make the nation self sufficient in education.

In Kerala of late the state government has been trying to interfere in the running of these self-financing engineering institutions. This has led to protest from the managements and the student community for different reasons. It is only through transparency and open discussions on the problems and threats faced by all the stake holders in the process that an ever lasting solution can be found to this problem.

If MIT and Stanford can rise to world prominence in spite of being self financing institutions, the sky is the limit to these institutions to grow and excel. After all, when public funding does not exist, it is private finance required to run the institution, as much as faculty, infrastructure and student quality which finally decides whether an institution survives or dies out in this highly competitive world.

George Easaw

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