Monday, October 27, 2008

America Me Aisa Kya Hai?

Genre: Life

Ever since I made public my plan to go to USA next year for my higher studies, I have been bombarded with queries on my reasons for the same. Before the next round of "America me aisa kya hai jo India me nahi?" is fired, let me clarify my position. My reasons for MS in US can be divided into three broad categories-

1) Educational-
Justify Full
The campus placements that begun a couple of months back have been a real eye-opener. Whatever little faith I had in the education I received at VJTI came undone during the interviews- it finally dawned upon me (and a lot of others too) that the four years that we pretended to be studying engineering was actually a royal waste of time! Even after scoring 8 and 9 pointers in exams, what I have actually LEARNED is practically nil. And it is not because I ignored studying and spent the time partying. I did what everyone else does- blindly copy assignments from the class nerd at the eleventh hour before submissions, pretend to "perform" experiments on non-functional appartus and run out of the lab at the earliest and cram up a dozen xeroxes a week before exams and vomit it out on the answer paper. No wonder then that the companies coming for placement offered us salaries lesser than a call-centre job- as if trying to remind us again how useless and unprepared we are.

It is my own fault that I did not write all my assignments on my own and did not bother performing experiments seriously, right? Maybe yes. Maybe no. After all, the education system here has been such that year after year students have adapted themselves to working this way simply because the system (atleast in my college) gives no credit for practicals, the emphasis is only on submitting assignments on the specified date and time and not on the content in them and out-of-the-box answers in exams get a ZERO because the professor wants answers only from a specific textbook.

Moving out of this grind, higher education in USA will give me an opportunity to study what I want to, and not what some so-called panel of educationists pre-decide for me. Access to state-of-the-art infrastructure, learned faculty alongwith liberal funding from the government for education and research will help in developing the intellectual skills to survive in the cutting-edge industry- something which I should have acquired in my four years of undergraduate studies itself. (Ofcourse, if Indian universities did take education as seriously as USA does, I would have never thought of moving out).

2) Political-

It is a well-known fact that the education system in India has gone to the dogs after certain Delhi-based donkeys (known as politicians) began to use it for vested interests. The introduction of caste-based reservations in institutes of higher education has had a two-fold effect- firstly it has made getting into premier institues highly impossible for the unfortunate Open category boys like me and even if by a stroke of luck I manage to get into one, the presence of half class-ful of students looking as confused as a kid in a strip club deteriorates the intellectual atmosphere in the class. If this sounds haughty, let me clarify that I am NOT insulting students who are lesser intelligent but I have observed from my personal experience at Agrawal Classes and VJTI how being in a class of students with similar intellect levels stimulates healthy competition and the desire to succeed. On the other hand, in a class with mixed-breed population, the intelligent students have to sit through dumbed-down lectures while the not-so-bright students suffer from inferiority complex and end up screwing their own lives. The result- everybody suffers.

As if this is not enough, caste-based reservation for faculty proved to be the final coffin in India's higher ednucation system. Studying for four years under professors who cannot write two sentences in grammatically correct English or cannot distinguish between a website and an email is enough. I cannot bear this bullshit anymore.

The universities in United States of America will provide me with the intellectual environment that I am yearning for- a place where merit is honoured, education is valued and politics kept firmly outside the iron doors of the colleges.

3) Financial-

Like it or hate it. You can't ignore it. A graduate degree from USA is access to big money. The $1=Rs 50 exchange rate makes the equation all the more lucrative. A typical graduate fresher from a US university starts with a pay package of anywhere between $65,000 to $85,000 per year. Subtracting the living costs which come to around $25,000 per year, it still amounts to a savings of close to $50,000 a year- yeah, Rs 25 lakhs! Even If I work in USA for just three years, I would have managed to gather enough moolah to return to India and be able to buy a decent house and a luxury car for myself, if not more. Lucrative, na?

And for all those who are thinking of starting preaching me on stuff like "Money is not everything etc etc", please dont even bother. Why make it known to everyone that you are working for peanuts?! :P

All said and done, I am not one of those blinded-by-American-way-of-life teenagers who wants to shift to USA lock, stock and barrel. After completing my studies and gathering some moolah, I will be back here- to enjoy the vada-pao and local trains, and probably light up an electric bulb a la SRK in Swades!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Changing Priorities

This is a conversation I overheard at the Municipal School behind my house-

Scene: A teacher, holding a portable music player in her hands, is scolding a student in shabby uniform, presumably coming from a poor household.

Teacher: Ye kya hai? Isko kya bolte hai?
Student: (slowly, almost crying) iPod
Teacher: Khud ka hai ya chori kiya?
Student: Khud ka hai
Teacher: Kitne ka liya?
Student: (hesitates at first) Baarah sau (1200) ka
Teacher: Paisa kahaan se aaya? Chori kiya ghar se?
Student: Nahi madam. (stops for a while).. mazdoori kiya
Teacher: Mazdoori karke kamaya saara paisa isme daal diya?
Student: (teary eyed) Haan Madam.

This more or less surmises the state of India today. Everybody wants to directly leap to the top rather than taking one step at a time, forgetting the fact that missing a step in between would result in a tumble straight down.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Waah Wall-E!

Genre: Entertainment

It is not often that you come across an animation movie that is cute and at the same time carrying a social message. And even rare is to find such a movie winning hearts of audiences world over. Wall-E is one such once-in-a-blue-moon wonder! All critics who claim that a successful movie needs strong dialogues must have been left speechless (pun unintended) by this almost-silent movie that carries itself solely on the basis of amazing animation and vivid facial expressions.

It is hard to miss the wide array of social messages so subtly incorporated into the storyline. Besides the obvious reference to the problem of environmental pollution and accumulation of hazardous waste which forms the essence of the story, there is a lot to look out for- over-dependence on machines resulting in obese lazy humans incapable of doing even the most basic chores, mechanical lifestyle resulting in we humans drifting away from emotions (remember, Captain asking his computer to "Define 'Dance'") and last but not the least, that undescribable happiness and nervousness on finding someone with similar tastes (remember Wall-E trying to hold Eve's hands but hesitating at the last moment!).

Besides the effortless storytelling merely by facial expressions and flawless animation, what makes this movie truly adorable is the way Wall-E intermmitently squeaks- "Eevaaa". So cute!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tata.. Please Go to Gujarat

Genre: Current Affairs

As Ratan uncle finally says tata to Singur, one question that is on everybody's mind is - where will the Nano factory finally come up? As expected, almost half a dozen states are in the fray to attract Tata with Maharashtra and Gujarat being the forerunners.

I so much hope Tata does not make the mistake of moving to Maharashtra- not because I do not want development in Maharashtra but because the moment Tata goes to Maharashtra, Raj Thackerey and other similar-minded jerks will come out with outrageous demands such as reserving 80% jobs in the Nano factory for people from certain caste/creed/religion/place of birth, "order" Tatas to write टाटा नैनो only in Marathi on all cars and such other shitty crap and eventually force the closure of the factory to gather some cheap publicity. In short, all the reasons why Tata opted out of Bengal will come hounding back. It makes better business sense to rather shift to Gujarat- a state with industry-friendly government and enterprising people. Shift to Savli in Baroda district with Bombardier of Germany for company, shift to Mundra Port SEZ or shift to any of the other dozen-odd industrial centres in Gujarat but please dont shift to Maharashtra.

Now if only Ratan Tata reads my blog...
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