Looking beyond the AIEEE

Tonight I share an article where my father expresses his views on a situation many Indian parents end up facing  –
9th June, 2012 11:44pm
I was half sleep when a text message woke me up. It read – ‘AIEEE 4111′. It was from one of my ex-colleagues whose son was aspiring for an admission to one of the top engineering institutes in the country. The rank, 4111, was a really excellent one  in the AIEEE exam, considering especially that more than a million candidates appeared for the exam in May. In fact, what makes this rank even more remarkable is the fact that the first 3000 – 3500 students may not even join any of the institutes available through the exam as they would be most probably be joining one of the IITs or dropping an year to improve their JEE ranks the next year.
The message made me wonder about 2 other students, whose parents I knew.  I informed them immediately that the AIEEE results were out. On calling them the next day, I found out that one of them had secured a rank of 45,000 while other had ranked around 2,35,000. Creditable as they were, such is the cut-throat level of competition for the limited number of seats, that they would normally not be enough to make it to one of the  nationally reputed top engineering colleges.
The first question that came to my mind was – What should be the next step for these two students ? What if one of them was my own son or daughter? Would I consider this a failure on my child’s part? Sadly, in India, most parents do. What they need to realize is that this is definitely not the end of the road; but rather a great chance to explore other exciting education and career opportunities. We have, over the years ended up building a regime of expectations from our children, where the two most direct routes are –
Engineer -> MBA
In my view, only if a student is really interested in the various engineering courses offered, has appeared for other entrance exams like the BITSAT or State entrance exams and scored well, should he/she opt for pursuing the engineering route. To me, it makes no sense what so ever, in both settling for a mediocre institute or in bluntly keeping on banging for an engineering birth by dropping an year (and possibly more). I would rather sit with my son; discuss our options; take a hard, long look at his interests; and pursue a field that would play to his confidence.
I would not really go into great detail, but here are some of the opportunities (assuming a science background in the +2 years of school) you might want to explore if you find yourself in a similar situation –
-A direct officer level entry to the Indian Navy (Logistics Branch) or a Marine engineering degree through the navy or otherwise.
-Look for an esteemed career with the Indian Army beginning at the NDA
-If you have a penchant to sketching or design, try for an admission to one of the top architecture or fashion design institutes.
-Take up an under-graduate course in Hotel Management or Business.
-Take up a course in sciences if your child has a dream for it. Remember, there are always excellent opportunities available in R&D, especially in bio-sciences, pharmaceuticals, space, etc.
-There are several courses very similar in structure and opportunities to engineering like BSc (IT), BSc (Computer Sciences). One could always pursue them even whilst preparing for another attempt at the engineering exams, instead of entirely wasting an year.
The list is of course long, and great success always follows wherever passion and hard-work are. I can only advise and eventual success depends upon the individual’s drive. In the end, it is of utmost importance to understand the psyche of each individual student and providing the right counsel.
– Sudhir Kumar Pant
With over 30 years of experience in IT & Telecommunication, Sudhir is one of the founder members of the safalmantra initiative and the prime visionary behind the idea. Over the years, his counsel and initiative has been helpful to many young students looking for the best career option.

The Big Indian Blog Democracy

Internet seems to have finally caught up with the old-school Indian political parties. And so, even though all major competing groups still presented 70-somethings as their Prime Ministerial candidates, the presentation just that bit more savvy, in an attempt to entice the tech (or tech-pretend), blog reading, wikipedia searching Indian www-er.

So what’s in store???

I notice WordPress and Google tied up with the NDA’s candidate – The controversial, yet charismatic, former Deputy PM, L.K.Advani. Mr. Advani’s portal at http://www.lkadvani.in is almost as good the one used by the democrats for Sen.Barack Obama in the US elections last year. The attempt to tie up with wordpress is also commendable, simply because of the large number of Indian WordPress readers and Google users. The portal boasts of many pro-change one-liners (cudn’t find a better word), most presented in saffron bolds. Another interesting feature is the volunteer scheme, which also smells much like the American system. Also on offfer, is the party’s manifesto and its various sections in elaborate details, apart from discussion forums, polls, links, campaign updates, and Mr. Advani’s own thoughts, which I must admit, rounds up a pretty neat show of aggresive online campaigning, not to mention the Advani for PM (very American) carry tag.

On the other hand, there’s Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s own page at http://www.manmohansingh.org. The UPA candidate has long been known for his simple style, which is very much evident in the simple structure of Dr.Sinngh’s page (although this could also be down to the inefficient maintainance). The page carries quite a few links like PM’s Biography, Able PM, Policies, Achievements, Writings, Opposition, etc. apart from from national news updates. One interesting glowing link is to UPA chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s page at http://www.soniagandhi.org . This page is also very similar to Dr.Singh’s portal and does intelligent small talk about origins, motives, agendas, and India. The Congress has shown greater reliance on its party blog, which again is a very tech savvy page and inculcates everything concerning the party, the upcoming elections, and a formidable dose of volunteer schemes, forums, public polls, updates, etc.

If you’re more of a party-centric voter, then there are blogs like http://www.bjp.org, http://www.congress.org.in, http://www.cpim.org et al for you to check out. Then there’s also the PMO at pmindia.nic.in to grab more daily bites about everyday chores in the country’s most important office.

Whether the people make up their minds based upon online campaigning, is very hard to predict, but it sure is sweet, and a largely welcome change to the Indian political scene.  The one thing you do have now is choice, and a chance to better understand the choices. Please do vote.

PS: I won’t, coz I could not register in the Mumbai list. The EC guys came home, Iwas college.