Thursday, March 31, 2022

Overcoming a bleak year

I butt dialed an old colleague and chatting with him made me realise how bleak the last year had been. Searching mails for a contact made me realise that at the end of 2021 we exchanged hardly any holiday greetings. The greetings at the end of 2020 were full of hope that the coming year will be better. It wasn't.

It seems as if I/we have gone into hermit-mode and interacting even with friends feels awkward. The most social contact has been with shop keepers! In fact, yesterday only, I enjoyed interacting with the owner of a bathroom fixtures shop. May be he too was affected because he gave me a very good discount😀

I had been perfectly content with the constrained life, except for not physically meeting grandchildren. The pleasure of such social interaction came alive again and surprisingly made me realise how I have unconsciously stopped making any effort to have any face to face social interaction.

I have to renew the effort but it seems so hard now😒

Thursday, March 17, 2022

A way to get rid of reservation in higher education

 "Show me where is the answer in the text book!" - stated in an aggressive tone by a faculty member from another college. This memory was triggered by "The Habit of Copying: Are We Creating a Culture of Plagiarism?" 

 

I could not even have imagined that anyone could have such an expectation for a management information course. My disappointment with teaching is documented here.

 

If there is a shortage of supply, there will be malpractices and there is a shortage of seats for a decent education. Gaming the system, blaming reservations, etc will be inevitable.

 

Instead of trying to stop loopholes, what if we accepted that there is a shortage and that there is no perfect way to select the best. We could, of course, auction the seats. However, I doubt if that would seem ideal to anyone, including those supporting auction of coal mines and mobile spectrum! First come, first serve will also not be an acceptable option.

 

An alternate system is a random selection from among a set of shortlisted candidates. The selection for shortlisting could be very much like the current system; except that there is no queue; rather, a set of acceptable candidates. 

 

We can eliminate reservation of seats for varying categories of candidates. The focus can be to ensure and help candidates from deprived communities clear the entrance test barrier.

 

The tuition industry would suffer but, at least, I have for one would not shed a tear to see it disappear. 


Wednesday, December 8, 2021

A generation or two later - What if Corona Virus were handled differently

A great theme for speculative fiction novels:

What would the future be like a generation or two later depending on how the Corona Virus were handled. 

A pessimistic version assuming that the Corona Virus were as destructive as some have feared, especially for the older people,  and the societies couldn't control the virus. Would we still be an aging society looking for young people?

I was intrigued by the possibilities as I read the news that China is now encouraging couples to have a 3rd child

Furthermore, there was the news about the very high and worsening level of inequality now. How would this change were the pandemic let loose?  An obvious historical parallel is the black death and the Renaissance in Italy

The Black Death marked an end of an era in Italy. Its impact was profound, resulting in wide-ranging social, economic, cultural, and religious changes. These changes, directly and indirectly, led to the emergence of the Renaissance, ...

 An optimistic version. Personally, in spite of being in the very high risk group, I am convinced that the societies have overreacted. I was reminded of this by the efforts to control the spread of Omicron variant

Here is a simple question: If the Omicron variant is thrice as transmissible as the Delta variant - as is suggested tentatively by the existing data - why are we putting so many people in one holding area? Will this not ensure that many uninfected people may actually get the infection?

Some of the major outbreaks of the infections might very well have been because of our societies' efforts to prevent the spread! 

In spite of such questionable implementation issues, damage from virus infections has been more-or-less contained. This reinforces my view that the light touch of Sweden remains the most sensible approach to the handling of the Corona virus, even though it is very hard to find any articles which do not predict failure and doom for that approach.

What if societies decided to handle Corona virus lightly, realizing how vulnerable human societies are, focused on the imminent issues facing human societies, e.g. climate, inequality, desperate migrations.

Obviously, the former will sell, the latter will not!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

A very clean memory

More memories of Andhra :)

My breakfast on each visit to Andhra was black grape juice and pesarattu. It probably started with a night's stay in Vizag on my way, I think, to Orissa. 

I can't recall how I wound up at the hotel, but it seemed nice from the outside. They had no A/C rooms available. Since it was just for a night, I decided to stay there even though I was taken aback by the room cost. After my experiences in the North, I had very low expectations given the price of the room!

However, the hotel lobby and the passage were clean and well lit. The room itself was very clean and remarkably airy. Sadly, I have forgotten the name of the hotel though the stay was very comfortable and pleasant.

Given the above experience, cleanliness doesn't have to be expensive. 

I have never understood - what prevents cleanliness in our societies?


 The 'rise and fall are the “Andhrapreneurs” ' reminded me of my first account with a private sector bank. I had always felt uncomfortable with private sector banks. A couple of interactions with their representatives had left me uncomfortable, similar to my comfort level in 5 star hotels, that is, I don't belong there.

On an impulse, I walked into the branch of Global Trust Bank in Panaji. I needed a demat account and they were on the list given me by the share broker. I was very surprised. 

  • It was clean and pleasant. 
  • It was tech savvy.
  • The person was genuinely helpful.
  • I felt at ease.
My relationship with the bank increased. There was once some financial interaction my parents had to do. They visited the GTB branch in Chandigarh and were very impressed as well. They too opened an account there :) Had it been nearer, that would have become their primary branch.

Even after the bank was taken over by Oriental Bank, these branches continued nearly as before. I believe part of the reason must be that the working environment in these branches was much better than in one of the original Oriental Bank branches I visited. 

I miss the absence of GTB and wonder 

I am sure the fate of entities like GTB would have been very different and India would be a far richer and better country.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Universalise Holidays

Wouldn't it be nice if the human society agreed to a common set of holidays but each group can give the holiday its own name and celebrate it in its own traditional way? 

The  following holidays would seem to be great for our current lifestyle:

1. One holiday each month.

2. Major holiday every quarter.

3. Each holiday will be on the 5th day of the week - may be the last one of the month.

4. Each major holiday will have  4th and 5th days off.

We will have the same working days - 1 to 5 with 6 and 7 being the weekend. However, some societies may call the weekend Sat/Sun, Thu/Fri or Mon/Tue or whatever their heritage demands.

No worries about which group gets how many holidays. Peace descends on Earth :)

Saturday, October 24, 2020

What is moral? How will the future judge us?

I found Flaubert's Salammbo on Gutenberg. It is an incredible book. How do we judge the behaviour and actions of the people in that time? Certainly not by applying the current morality to those times.

How moral is it that a person who has possession of a Van Gogh painting has assets worth millions while the painter got nothing. 

How moral is it that I can read ebooks only from the vendor from whom I bought the eBook reader?

How moral is it that our economic system is helping create monopolies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Uber, etc. ? By their very nature, such services need a common platform. Shouldn't such services be distributed, co-operatives? 

I find it very difficult to believe that such services would not have been created or succeeded if the current economic system was not in place.

I wonder how the future generations will judge us.