Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fwd: Re: IMPORTANT -- Please read/circulate ( Apologize for the formatting )

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: S. Kalyanaraman
Date: May 31, 2006 3:37 AM
Subject: Re: IMPORTANT -- Please read/circulate ( Apologize for the formatting )
To:
Title: water or gold...?
please read this and pass it...when the last tree is cut and when the last glacier(watershed) is destroyedwe will have to drink gold or sulphuric acid......
Please read about this absolute atrocity that is happening in Chile, thatcould eventually happen in your own home, or maybe already is. Andmay this inspire us to say NO MORE and start changing the world we live in!
In the Valle de San Felix, the purest water in Chile runs from 2rivers, fed by 2 glaciers. Water is a most precious resource, and wars willbe fought for it. Indigenous farmers use the water, there is no unemployment, and they provide the second largest source of income for the area.Under the glaciers has been found a huge deposit of gold, silver and other minerals. To get at these, it would be necessary to break, to destroy the glaciers - something never conceived of in the history of the world - and to make 2 huge holes, each as big as a whole mountain, one for extraction and one for the mine's rubbish tip.The project is called PASCUA LAMA. The company is called Barrick Gold. The operation is planned by a multinational company, one of whose *members is George Bush Senior.*

The Chilean Government has approved the project to start this year, 2006. The only reason it hasn't started yet is because the farmers have got a temporary stay of execution. If they destroy the glaciers, they will not just destroy the source of especially pure water, but they will permanently contaminate the 2 rivers so they will never again be fit for human or animal consumption because of the use of cyanide and sulphuric acid in the extraction process.Every last gram of gold will go abroad to the multinational company and not one will be left with the people whose land it is. They will onlybe left with the poisoned water and the resulting illnesses.

The farmers have been fighting a long time for their land, but have been forbidden to make a TV appeal by a ban from the Ministry of the Interior. Their only hope now of putting brakes on this project is to get help from international justice.
The world must know what is happening in Chile. The only place to start changing the world is from here.We ask you to circulate this message amongst your friends in the following way.Please copy this text, paste it into a new email adding your signature and send it to everyone in your address book.
Please, will the 100th person to receive and sign the petition, send it to noapascualama@yahoo.ca
to be forwarded
To the Chilean Government.

NO to the Pascua Lama Open Cast Mine in the Andean Corillera on the
Chilean-Argentine frontier.We ask the Chilean Government not to authorize
the
Pascua Lama project to protect the whole of 3 glaciers, the purity of
the water
of the San Felix Valley and El Transito, the quality of the
agricultural land of
the region of Atacama, the quality of life of the
Diaguita people and of the
whole population of the region.

Signature, City, Country
and please google the subject to find out more info for yourself....to find out how else
you can get involved.
Here is one link for you to check out:
1) Katharine Proudfoot, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
2) Laura Cole, London, UK
3) David Platt, London, UK
4) Diane Platt, Manchester, UK
5) Tanya Corker, Manchester, UK
6) Nicola Hargreaves, UK
7) Nicholas Jones, UK
8) Johann Don-Daniel, Germany
9) Ashley Berger, Germany
10) Sarah Downie, Leeds, UK
11) Paula Delahunty, Bingley, UK
12) John O'Driscoll, Bingley, Uk
13) Jordan-Lee Delahunty, Bingley, UK
14) Claire Mulvey, Bradford, UK
15) Marie Malcolm Bradford, UK
16) Ann Clowes, Halifax UK
17) Jayne McGee, Brighouse UK
18) Jason Barratt Oldham UK
19) Lindsay Torrance, Rochdale UK
20) Maggie Ford, Rochdale, U.K.
21) Barry Cook, Todmorden, U.K.
22) Shelley Burgoyne, Todmorden, U.K.
23) Lisa Stuart, Potes, Spain.
24) Michael Stuart, Potes, Spain.
25) Renee Engl, Byron Bay, Australia
26) Adrian Begg, Brunswick Heads, Australia
27) Riana Begg, Brunswick Heads, Australia
28) Oriel Paterson, Brunswick Heads, Australia
29) Alicia Paterson, Brisbane, Australia
30) Lyneve Robinson, Sydney, Australia
31) Jennifer Moalem, Sydney, Australia
32) Alexandra Pope, Sydney Australia
33) Shushann Movsessian, Sydney Australia
34) Amanda Frost35) Chris Liddell, AUS
36) Jade Deegan, AUS37) Jo Satori, AUS
38) Jennie Gorman, Vic AUS
39) Angelique Queensley, Victoria, Can
40)Chrystyanna Queensley, Victoria, Can
41) Dawna Masters, San Miguel De Allende, Mex.
42) John Gillespie, Canada43. Lynn Askey, Canada
44) Blanche Tanner B.C. Canada
45)Harreson Tanner B.C. Canada
46) peggy johnston B.C. Canada
47)Richard Welmers, Los Angeles, CA
48)Carlos Madrid Mora, Sebastopol, CA.
49) Pamela Schneider, Montreal, QC Canada
50) Jean-Marc Abela, Montreal, Qc, Canada
51) Khrystell E. Burlin, Toronto, ON, Canada
52) Sandy Powlik, Victoria, BC, Canada
53) Chad Unser, San Juan Del Sur, Nicargua
54) Suzanne Kimball, Mexico D.F., Mexico
55) Carol W. Shweder, Chilmark, MA, USA
56) Chitra Raman, Grosse Pointe, MI, USA.
57) S. Kalyanaraman, Chennai, India
58) Anil Kurnool, India

Monday, May 29, 2006

Fwd: Quota row:meritorious students to return medals received for academic excellence

A novel way to fight quota raj....

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: ARYA <mailto:jiski_lathi_uski_bhains@yahoo.co.in>
Date: May 29, 2006 10:00 PM
Subject:Quota row:meritorious students to return medals received for academic excellence
To:

News for group:

Quota row: meritorious students to return medals received for academic excellence:

New Delhi/Bhopal/Kanpur, May 29 (ANI): Medical and engineering students, who have rejected appeals from Prime Minister, to withdraw their fortnight-long agitation against caste-based quota in higher education institutes, threatened self-immolation, if the Central Government failed to withdraw the controversial move.

Some meritorious students also announced to return medals received for academic excellence to the President.

The striking medical students in New Delhi were joined by their counterparts from across the country.

Anand Rai, general secretary of Madhya Pradesh junior doctors association, who was in the city to express solidarity with medical students sitting on hunger strike, said their medals did not hold any value after the government proposed quota.

"By returning the medals, we just want to show that these medals, which are in fact given as an encouragement for meritorious students, are of no use for us. By introducing quota, they are closing our roads for progress, so what is the purpose of our keeping them?" said Rai.

In Bhopal, protesting medicos staged mock public hanging and threatened to turn it real if government went ahead with the move.

"This is only a symbolic hanging, but if the government goes ahead with its decision to implement the proposed move, we'll commit suicide," said Ashutosh Dikshit, a protesting medical student.

Students at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) also went on a hunger strike to protest the government's decision to go ahead with the reservation plans.

Students said reservation, if at all is implemented, should be along economic lines.

"First of all, we are against any kind of reservation that is done on the basis of caste. If any reservation has to be done that should not be on the basis of caste or religion but on economic inequalities. This bill should be taken back," said Chandrashekhar Sharma, a protesting engineering student.

On Sunday, the Cebtral Government had assured the students that adequate facilities would be made available to the educational institutions before implementing the new move but the medicos said that the government was presenting them the same recommendations that they had rejected earlier.

The Central Government has stood firm by its stand to implement the proposed reservation from the next academic year.

Thousand of students across the country are protesting the government move to hike the number of seats for the socially backward classes in higher educational institutions.

The latest government move plans to increase the quota for lower castes by 27 percentage points, which would mean nearly half the places in state-funded medical, engineering and management colleges and Central universities would be set aside for other backward castes or OBCs.

But the general category students complain that they will have to compete more fiercely for the unfairly low portion of remaining seats if the quota move is implemented as expected by June 2007. (ANI)

Informer:

Arya.

Jai Hind!

Akhilesh Mithal - Reg

Dear All,
 
Yesterday's DC carried "Ithihass" by Sri. Akhilesh Mithal. I object to the following in his article. (Can someone provide me his mail-id.)
 
"The darkest age of Indian history, British Rule, started in 1757. Sirajuddowlah, betrayed by his Diwan Raja Durlabhram Bose-Som lost the Battle of Plassey to Robert Clive. The Raja subverted the loyalty of Mir Bakhshi (Army commander and paymaster) Mir Ja'afar by offering him the gaddi of Murshidabad. Three out of the four divisions of the Nawab's army did not fight the battle of Plassey."

We all know of Mir Jaffer, where did this Raja come from?? (From a pipe dream???)
 
"Constructive use should be made of the Netaji heritage instead of wasting time, money and effort on whether or not he died on August 18, 1945."
 
If truth is not out, then why this Govt? If all heros' die unsung and are relegated to legacy, this nation would go to dogs.
 
Regards,
Anil Prasad
 

Friday, May 26, 2006

Fwd: Make India a knowledge economy

A wonderful insight into the real India.... [Courtesy Krishna]
 
 
Making INDIA a Knowledge Economy

It is necessary to first understand the entire "Matrix" in education. Even after 59 years of Independence, the following situation remains as far as the Human Capital Development of our country is concerned:-

  1. Drop-out rate in schools from KG to 10+2 is (including those who never attended school) 90% to 94%.  
  2. China has about 1.80 million schools, while we have in India about 0.95 million schools!
  3. The "Governance" in Government run schools is very low. In many cases teachers are absent (15% to 40% absenteeism) from schools in rural and urban schools of India and are paid full wages and perks in spite of this! Studies have shown that even the poorest of the poor rather send their children to un-aided schools where fees have to be paid and not to government run free schools. The quality of schooling of such unaided schools is higher than Government schools although the salary of Government teachers is two to three times higher than the teachers of the un-aided schools.
  4. The existing Indian definition of Literacy (if you can write your name you are literate) needs to be amended to International Standards.
  5. As per the Ministry of HRD the present illiteracy is ONLY 37% or 430 million people, while as per UNICEF and UNDP it is nearly 60% or 650 million people. China has a Literacy rate of about 93% literacy.
  6. The first step of making India a knowledge economy is literacy and needs to be given A1 priority.
  7. The total amount spent on education is about Rs. 81,000 crores per year. 10% by the Central Govt. and 90% by the State Governments The Education Cess will collect another Rs. 7000 crores per year. This is about 3.3% of GDP. The MHRD has calculated that another Rs. 40,000 crores per year would be required only for additional requirements for Primary Education!
  8. We estimate that another Rs. 100,000 crores are required per year just to have reasonable quality of Primary and Secondary education, up to Class 10th., which is where the Central and State Governments should concentrate for the next 10 to 20 years, or till we have at least 95% Literacy and at least 80% of the population who are completing the High School stage or Class 10th.
  9. As per our estimates the total expenditure for education is nearly 8% of GDP, about 3.3% from Government and about 4.7% from private participation . This includes funding of unaided schools and colleges+ bribes and capitation fees + payment for students studying abroad + tuition classes +coaching classes +private I.T. & Software training institutes. Most of this private funding is confined to urban areas where only 30% stay.
  10. About 7% to 8% of the youth who finish the 10+2 stage (pre-university) enter the17, 600 colleges of India . 70% of all graduates are B.A. or Arts graduates. Is this relevant today? Most of these so called graduates are not-employable.
  11. Of all new employment taking place nearly 60% are self employed. About New Employment - 1% is with government, 2% with the private 'organized sector' and 97% with the 'unorganized sector'.
  12. Presently there is little connect between education and employment generation & quality of Life
  13. The employers associations, chambers of commerce and other business organizations are fragmented. There is no "National Common Minimum Program" for "education and training of manpower" in India. In most developed and developing countries the Chambers of Commerce (who represent the employers and business) Lead from the front.
  14. About 29 million people are added every year to the existing education system, which is like adding another Australia + Hong Kong + Singapore & UAE per year!
  15. Presently both the Central Government as well as the State Governments are running in Financial Deficits, of about 9% to 11% of GDP, so the question of additional financing for education will strain not only the existing budgets but also put pressure on other sectors, where funds are being presently allocated.
  16. "Licence Raj" runs all Higher & Technical Education in India. Let us Bench-Mark with USA, Germany and Japan, the three largest economies of the World account for nearly 50% of the world's GDP.  Do their governments exert similar controls as we have in India? Can we learn from them? There is fierce competition between the institutions in these countries for excellence!
  17. China has about 900 Universities, while we in India have 372 Universities. Japan has 4000!
  18. In India, the fees of the courses, pay-scales to the teachers, appointment of the head of the Institution and the syllabus, are decided by the 58 or more Central and State-Government Boards of Education. Will this create innovation, excellence and world class students?
  19. The Coaching Business is getting bigger than the Education Business, entrance examinations for the IIT's, IIM's and a few prestigious  management schools attract about 600,000 applications (who spend nearly Rs.2.00 lac each for pre-coaching, amounting to Rs.12,000 crores per year, for 6000 seats. These institutions spend hardly Rs.800 to Rs.1,100 crores per year, as their teaching budgets!
  20. While 75% to 85% the youth of the developed and developing world learn a skill or competence or trade between the ages of 14 to 35, by Vocational Education & training , in India it is hardly covers 3% to 5% of the population!
  21. India has about 5000 ITI's (Ministry of Labour) and about 7000 Vocational schools (Ministry of HRD), while China has about 500,000 senior secondary vocational schools !
  22. India has 300 million able bodied between the ages of 18 to 50, but they have no skill sets and therefore not employable! Employers in India are facing a huge shortage of skilled manpower. Wages and salaries in India, of skilled manpower are going up too fast. India will not be able to take advantage of the demographic profile of its population, if the youth do not receive relevant and quality Education & Training.
  23. We have not seen any co-ordination between the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of HRD as far as VET planning on a National level, is concerned
  24. We in India have NOT still appreciated the fact that, world wide, Education is 5 times or 500% bigger than I.T. or software!
  25. India can become an Educational Hub for the world and earn US$ 100 billion per year, after 10 to 20 years! We need to start now, but remove "Licence Raj" first, as was done for business in 1991! India has 7,700 foreign students while Australia has 513,000 foreign students!
  26. Because of the "Licence Raj" in Higher and Technical Education , it is estimated that nearly 70,000 to 90,000 students leave India every year for studying abroad. At any given time these 320,000 students cost the country a foreign exchange out flow of nearly US$9 billion per year or nearly Rs. 40,000 crores per year, enough to build 40 IIM's or 20 IIT's per year.
  27. The present problem of reservation will not solve the needs and aspirations of the youth. India needs a larger number of educational Institutions, seats and higher quality in the area of Higher & Technical education. Rationing, quotas and reservation can never address the actual situation. The Central and State governments are strapped for funds even for Primary and Secondary education. The solution lies in complete decontrol of all forms of Higher & Technical education; the same way as business was delicensed in1991!

If INDIA has to become a Knowledge Economy we need to do the following:

  1. Aim for 95% to 100% Literacy in the next 10 years
  2. Decontrol and involve the management of all primary schools to the local bodies such as Panchayats, Village Groups, Municipalities and local Citizen Groups. Allow the community to manage.
  3. Consider the use and issue of "Education Coupons" for school children, so that they can choose the schools of their choice and funding from the government, which would have been dispersed for the funding of Government run schools in rural and urban India, should be paid out. See www.ccsindia.org
  4. Scrap "Licence Raj" in Higher & Technical Education, after and including class 11th, to allow innovation, creativity and excellence in Education. See www.epsfi.org
  5. Ensure that 80% to 90% of the population in the age group of 14 years to 50 years goes in for some sort of relevant Vocational Education & Training. See www.wakeupcall.org
  6. Allow starting of Enterprise Skills Education , ESD, from Class 5th to the 12th. This will teach the youth about how the real world works. Only 100 hours per year required. Nearly 60% of the workforce in India is self-employed.
  7. Start Prevocational classes from Class 8th. Have Vocational Counsellors in all Higher Seconadary Schools. Upgrade all Higher Seconadry Schools for Vocational Education & Training.
  8. Have a dynamic interaction between all stake holders, Academia-Industry-Business-R&D-Chambers of Commerce-Student bodies-Parents organizations-Civil society and NGO's. Chambers of Commerce, who represents the employers and business, must lead from the front.
  9. Allow private finance and participation in all sectors of education, till we reach the goals as mentioned under item 8 in section one above.
  10. Allow tax breaks and incentives for private and NRI funding, for the next 20 years or till we achieve bench marks as mentioned under item 8 in section one above.


--
~~~~ www.anilprasad.com

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fwd: Relevant Education (100% Literacy ) vs. Reservation

Forwarding for larger audience...
 
 
To,
    Dr. A. P. J. Kalam, The President of India,
    Dr. Manmohan Singh, The Prime Minister of India,
    Shri Arjun Singh, The Minister of Human Resource Development
    Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman , Planning commission
    Shri Sam Pitroda,Chairman, Natinal Knowledgeable Commission
    
Dear Sir,  
   Holistic development of every child by Relevant Education is a vision of all nations. So I have a request to our visionary leaders, Please Try to look problem as a whole and solve it at level of root cause.
 
   We have a final vision of all visions for all Organization.
                     May all be happy
                     May all be free from disease
                     May all be realized what is good
                     May none be subject to misery
 
   We are waiting for execution of this shared Vision by robust Strategy [Integrated Goals � Targeted actions plans] for archiving the end result.
 
So Please Ensure: �Relevant   Education� to all children. If we solve it, then automatically lots of interconnected problems are automatically solved.
 
My concern point is: Please Set it: Priority Number 1 = �Relevant Education� under enduring culture of High level of discipline with sound feedback mechanics.
 
Please give us, some insight in this direction because we can not wait more because IT superpower release his energy If electricity is available & people support system can be improved If judicial system is active & fast.  
 
 
Regards & Love ...
Ajay Singh Niranjan
A citizen of Great nation India [Bharat � a nation who spreads Light (Knowledge) ]


--
~~~~ www.anilprasad.com

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Good one on reservations

Courtesty : Murli

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2006/05/15/stories/2006051500791000.htm

The price of reservation

P. V. Indiresan

For every transaction, there has to be entries on both sides of the ledger. A price has to be paid for the gains made by reservation. What is the price the beneficiaries of reservation pay? One price they have paid is lowered quality of education in state-run schools, inferior opportunities to learn; in consequence, endemic poverty too. Is that price worth paying, wonders P. V. INDIRESAN.


WILL QUOTA affect quality? - M. Govarthan

Usually, media memory is short. Most stories are forgotten at the end of the day; few last a week. Unusually, interest in the reservation controversy has not died down even after two months. Evidently, this controversy touches a raw nerve; people cannot get over their hurt easily.

Considering the degree of interest in the topic, there is surprisingly few hard facts known about the issue. IITs have had reservation for students belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Tribes for over 30 years. There is no public information of how the beneficiaries have fared, or how well they have performed in the profession compared to regular students, or compared to SC/ST students from other less prestigious colleges.

Tamil Nadu experience

Tamil Nadu has the longest experience with reservation. With almost 80 per cent admissions and posts reserved, it has the most extensive application of that device. The Tamil Nadu experience can be described both as a success and as a failure. It is a success because backward castes have wrested the leadership - both in the academic and administrative spheres - apart from acquiring total command of the political space. Not only have the backward castes taken command, they have also made Tamil Nadu one of the most successful States.

Reservation in Tamil Nadu can also be declared as a failure on two counts: Even after three-quarters of a century, the backward castes are unwilling to compete openly. There are third, even fourth generation beneficiaries of reservation who are unable to get over their dependence on the handicaps reservation provides for them. It appears, reservation is a crutch, not a remedy.

The success of backward castes in Tamil Nadu appears to be partly due to emigration of upper castes: There are few Brahmins, Mudaliars, Naidus, Pillais or Chettiars to contend with; quite a few have migrated out of the State. There is no analysis how far the loss of so much human capital has hurt (or helped) the State.

Yet, it would be incorrect to conclude that backward castes can never stand up to competition. Once again, we have no hard data to rely on. However, anecdotal evidence points to the view that competent persons among the backward castes never flaunt their caste badge; they want to be known and respected for what they achieve - they stand tall. On the other hand, weaker but ambitious persons make their caste a fetish. They make noise louder and frequently; they get noticed more often.

Consider the visibility of capable students in the job market. They know what they want. They get selected promptly and vanish from the scene after no more than one or two job interviews. The least competitive ones are unsure of where they can succeed. They try again and again only to be rejected. They are noticeable everywhere. Particularly when they wear the caste badge, they will be shortlisted even when not well qualified.

Fooled by noise

With competent students appearing but few times, the less competent ones appearing frequently, the latter appear to be far larger in numbers than they actually are. Logically, the proportion of competent backward castes must be several times higher than what they appear to be in selection committees. That is like the case of a farmer who ruefully remarked after promising to supply a thousand frogs "the noise sure fooled me!"

There is yet another reason why backward students under-perform. As a natural corollary of the Reservation Principle, teaching posts have been reserved on caste basis. That is a cardinal error. What poor students need most are the best teachers available, not the least qualified. Dr Sowell, a distinguished professor from Stanford, was once asked on his visit to Madras (as it was then) whether he would prefer Black teachers to teach Black students (Prof Sowell is Black.) His answer was, "I do not care whether the teacher is White, Black or Blue; I want the best!"

Quality teaching, the key

Unfortunately, this basic principle has been discarded by our policymakers, who have grossly under-estimated the importance of teaching quality. In the process, they have run down state-run schools. In the past fifty years, the population of Chennai has increased almost ten times. Yet, many schools run by the City Corporation have been closed for "want of students". In truth, it cannot be that the students, but the quality of teachers selected that was found wanting.

It is a recorded fact that discipline among school teachers has come down. Across the country, half the time teachers are not attending to class work at all. It is a fact that most students in Delhi's Corporation schools cannot do simple arithmetic - multiply two-digit numbers - even after five years of education. Yet, as one NIIT experiment has shown, given a chance, they can pick up computer skills on their own.

In the prevailing ethos of reservation, a person can get the benefits of reservation without making any payment in return. That contravenes a natural law that is colloquially described as "there is no free lunch". In engineering, such systems are known as "perpetual-motion" machines, machines that run forever without any input. For every transaction, there has to be entries on both sides of the ledger. A price has to be paid for the gains made by reservation. There is no escape from that law. Then, what is the price the beneficiaries of reservation pay for the benefit they get? One price they have paid is lowered quality of education in state-run schools, inferior opportunities to learn; in consequence, endemic poverty too. Is that price worth paying?

As one correspondent has pointed out, reservation is like declaring a boundary scored in a cricket game as a six if hit by a backward caste player. Such artificial boost appears beneficial. It may not be. As one SC student remarked: "I won a degree in the IIT but lost my self-image." How many students would have done better with their lives if they had been exposed to what they can master, instead of being subjected to a difficult drill for which they were not trained, we do not know.

How far has the Reservation Policy has helped the poor, has reduced the rich-poor gap? The average family income of SC students in IIM Ahmedabad is twice that of the others. Is that an exception, or is it true of other institutions too? That is the problem: We have no data on which to base reasoned decisions. Our political masters are unwilling to generate much needed information on this issue, nor or they willing to consider any alternative. At the same time, they have acquired the power to declare as constitutionally illegal any institution that operates on a caste-free basis.

Friend or foe?

Is everyone who promotes reservation a friend of the backward castes? Is everyone who questions reservation at university level an enemy of backward castes?

Who hurts backward castes more: Those who deny good school education or those who want well-run schools?

A proposal to identify and give special education to talented backward caste students has been before the government for over 25 years, and still finds no support. Strange are the ways of our democracy, of government of some people, by some people for themselves.

(The author is a former Director of IIT Madras. Response may be sent to: indiresan@gmail.com)



--
~~~~ www.anilprasad.com

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Good one about AIT

Just found this article titled 'A search for our lost cities' by a former minister Jagmohan. So sharing it with you all.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1692583,0035.htm
A search for our lost cities

May 7, 2006

Dear Dr Manmohan Singh-ji,

This pertains to a special project, which I had conceived when I was working as Culture and Tourism Minister. The project, I thought, would have enlarged the dimensions of tourism, provided new insight into the origin of our civilisation, and attracted a number of scholars and
archaeologists to study the unexplored layers of our past. Unfortunately, it has since been given up.

Through this letter, I am approaching you with the request to intervene and ensure that the project is viewed in the right perspective and revived. I give below a brief backdrop of the project and the course that it intended to follow.

From the point of view of culture, the project was named as "A search For Lost Cities, A Lost Civilisation and A Lost River", and from the tourism point of view it was titled, "Travels Around Lost Cities, A Lost Civilisation and a Lost River". The river was Sarasvati and the civilisation was the one known as Harappan/Indus-Sarasvati.

There were five major objectives that the project sought to achieve:

1) To undertake extensive excavations of the Harappan settlements in the basin of the now dried-up Sarasvati, and build archaeological museums at the sites.

2) Set up small tourist-centres nearby.

3) Establish documentation-cum-multidisciplinary research units with attached pavilions, showing 5,000 years of Indian civilisation through large panel-photographs, 3-D models etc.

4) Make the newly created complex attractive for residents of the neighbouring towns and villages.

5) Open at each of the centres, a small window to the visitors.

The significance lay in the attempt to provide clear answers to some crucial questions, which I will answer one by one:

*Was there an Aryan invasion?*

It has been propagated by Western scholars and their Indian disciples that between 1,500 to 1,000 BC, there was an invasion of India by light-skinned nomadic tribes, the Aryans, which gave birth to the Vedic civilisation of India. But this hypothesis has no legs to stand upon.
The study of Colin Renfrew, a noted archaeologist at Cambridge University, not only debunks the theory propounded by Mortimer Wheeler but also points at the similarities between the Aryan Vedic civilisation and the Harappan one. Nor can the theory of invasion/migration provide answers to pertinent questions like: How come the 'Aryans', who showed strong attachment to lands, did not carry with them the memories of their previous homeland and nurse no nostalgia about their past? Is it not clear that the Rig-Vedic expressions like 'sabha', 'samiti', 'samrat', 'ranjan', 'rajaka', which indicate the existence of organised assemblies and rulers of different ranks, are relevant not to the nomadic invaders, but to the advanced urban society of the Vedic Aryans who were indigenous inhabitants of Harappan settlements? Was not the evolution of chariot more likely in the flat lands of North India rather than in the uneven terrain of the Central Asia?

The last nail in the coffin of the invasion/migration theory has been hammered in by the recent genetic studies, conducted by scientists in Calcutta with foreign scientists. They analysed the Y-Chromosomes of 936 men and 77 castes, and referred to the work of the international
research teams that found that the earliest modern human arrived in India from Africa, trudging along the Indian Ocean coast about 60,000 years ago. They concluded:

"Our findings suggest that most modern Indians have genetic affinities to the
earlier settlers and subsequent migrants and not to central Asians or 'Aryans',
as they are called".

*Nature of Civilisation*

When, in 1922, the Harappan civilisation was discovered, only two major settlements — Mohenjo-daro and Harappa — had been excavated and that too partially. On this basis, views were formulated about the origin of these advanced urban civilisations. It was given out that its roots lay in Mesopotamia. Subsequent excavations of more Harappan sites have shown
that these views and assertions were made without adequate evidence.

John Reader, a noted scholar of anthropology and geography, has pointed out that emergence of cities and civilisations in six widely separated places around the world — Mesopotamia, India, Egypt, China, Central America and Peru — was spontaneous and none resulted from contact with one another.

Excavations carried out by a French team, headed by Jean-Francois Jarrige, during the last 15 years, at Mehrgarh, Pakistan, have pin-pointed the beginnings of civilisation in India and shown that Indus-Sarasvati civilisation had no moorings in Mesopotamia or any civilisation outside India.

It has been rightly observed: "The people in Mehrgarh tradition are the people of India today". There are similarities between the social and religious practices of the Harappan people and the people of present-day India. For example, the spiralled bangles of the type found around the
figurine of the Harappan dancing girl can still be seen on the arms of women in Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, etc.

Again, as was the case with Harappan women, 'sindoor' is applied by married women of Hindu families. Some other common features of the two periods are: the practice of worshipping trees, putting of Svastika symbol at the entrance of the houses etc.

*Did Sarasvati exist?*

There is ample evidence that supports the view that river Sarasvati once existed.

Literary: The Rig Veda mentions the Sarasvati about 50 times, describing it as "the best mother, the best river, the best goddess". The famous Nadi-stuti hymn mentions a set of rivers, including Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati and Sutudori (Sutlej) and places Sarasvati between Yamuna and
Sutlej. Its origin is indicated in the hymn that says: "Purest among all rivers and vibrant, the Sarasvati moves on from the mountains to the ocean, manifesting immense riches of the world…" She is also called the seventh "Indus Mother". Ancient literature also talks of when Sarasvati began to decline. The Mahabharata, the Aitareya and the Satapatha Brahamana refer to its disappearance in the desert.

Archaeological: In 1872, C.F. Oldham and R.D. Oldham undertook a detailed survey of the area where the Sarasvati and its tributaries were said to be flowing in earlier times. They concluded that it was once fed by the Sutlej and the Yamuna, and that it disappeared after the westward
movement of the former and eastward movement of the latter.

Geological: A group of scientists led by V.M.K. Puri and B.C. Verma, made a detailed study of the areas from which Sarasvati could have originated. They observed: "This river was in existence during the upper Pleistocene period as it was fed by glaciers that had descended to much
lower limits in Garhwal Himalaya than the present day level due to the influence of Pleistocene Ice Age."

Hydrological: After the Pokhran nuclear explosion on May 11, 1998, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre conducted tests to assess the impact of the explosions on the quality of water in the area around. These tests, interalia, revealed that the water in the area was potable, about 8,000 to 14,000 years old, came from the Himalayan glaciers and was being slowly recharged through acquifers from somewhere in the north. Separately, the Central Ground Water Commission dug a number of wells on and along the dry bed. Out of 24 wells dug, 23 yielded potable water.

If all that I have said is viewed in entirety, this is the picture that will emerge: the period 6,500-3,100 BC saw the growth of pre-Harappan/Indus-Sarasvati civilisation, corresponding broadly to the times when the Rig Veda was composed; that during the period 3,100 to 1,900 BC, the Harappan/Indus-Sarasvati civilisation prevailed and these were the times when the hymns of four Vedas were composed; and that 1,900 to 1,000 BC was the time of the late Harappan/Indus-Sarasvati civilisation which saw the decline and ultimate disappearance of the
surface water of the Sarasvati, forcing the people to move eastward towards the Gangetic plain.

While the puzzles of archaeology and ancient Indian history cannot be resolved with certainty, particularly with regard to Harappa where the script has not so far been deciphered, it could be stated with a fair degree of accuracy that the Harappan/Indus-Sarasvati civilisation was born and brought up on the soil of India and its people and Vedic people were one and the same.

A lot of additional work needs to be done to unravel a number of features of one of the most significant civilisations of the ancient world. Hundreds of sites in the basin of now the submerged Sarasvati need to be excavated. It was this need that the special project intended to meet.

This would also be of huge benefit to the tourism sector. I request you to recommence the special project. I am confident that the project, if implemented in the spirit it was conceived, would show new facets of India's past, new initiatives of her present and new visions for her
future.

Yours sincerely,

Jagmohan


Sunday, May 7, 2006

IBM out of touch with ground realities.

In a story dispatched out of Berlin, Reuters is reporting on a joint IBM-Economist Intelligence Unit report that suggests India and China are closing the digital gap. The report cites the fact that Shanghai and Bangalore have similar connectivity to developed nations as proof of the fact.
Good!!!
But, the author went over board, just after seeing Shanghai, B'lore, Beijing, not the interior places in China or India.
Look at the following facts, which can't meet an average US/European village. (I remember going to a 'village' near Colonge in Germany, where braodband hotspot was free in hotel room.)
  • Less than 9% of China's citizens have regular access to the Internet.
  • There is one computer in China for every 20 people.
  • There is one home computer in China for every 50 people.
  • Less than 1% of China's population can reach the Internet via a mobile phone.
  • But reality is different, once you go to second rung cities in India or China....
    IBM, wake up from your Ivory tower views of world....

    Wednesday, May 3, 2006

    The right time for labour market reform is now

    Wonderful piece from 6 AM Pacific 

    In my first job out of business school with Hindustan Lever, as Area Sales Manager I had a team of over 20 unionized salesmen. I ran a Voluntary Retirement Scheme in my first year and then again in my third year by which time we were down to half the original team size. Yet we introduced new brands in the market, grew our sales and in general did well as a team.

    In my third year I took over a small new business of hot beverage vending for Lipton (at that time a division of HLL). The business was small but growing rapidly as we expanded our city coverage. In Sales, Distribution and Service we had about 50 people. Of this the number of direct Hindustan Lever employees was 2. The rest were all outsourced, contract or distributor's employees.

    I then moved to Infosys in the US and over my 11 years there, hired scores of employees onto the company's US payrolls. I also had to let go of some people for performance or other reasons. At all times, I was acutely aware that I myself was an 'At Will' employee. I could be fired with two week's wages without giving a reason. As long as the reason was not discriminatory (race, sex, religion etc.) I could not bring legal action upon the company.

    My experience with the vastly different labour environment in both India and the US has driven home a very important lesson - a business exists to make money for its investors, not to provide employment. And that is, paradoxically, the best way to generate employment.

    Let's take a look at how India's labour laws distort the business environment and harm employment and employees:

    1. It discourages capital investment - particularly in service oriented industries. Investing capital means taking risks. Market risk - the risk that the business may not succeed - is a risk that 'comes with the territory'. In most countries, investors know that if their business fails in the market, they close down the business, sell off the assets at knocked-down prices, book the loss and take the remaining capital to some other investment opportunity. However, in India, failure, or a downturn, in the market also means that you are still saddled with the payroll costs because you can't restructure or layoff anybody. You can't exit the business because employees will lose jobs. That's something investors don't have to deal with in most countries. You look at so many rusting factories in every major city in the country where the factory owner has not been able to layoff employees even when the networth of the company has gone down to zero, and you wonder - what a colossal waste of assets. You also wonder -  what do future investors think when they see these rust-buckets? More likely than not it's - 'That could be my investment 10 years from now.'

    2. It provides no incentive for raising productivity through automation. Look at all the government offices or offices that have unionized staff like banks. To the last one, they opposed computerization. Why? because it could do the job faster and so it would reduce the number of jobs.

    Yes it will and that is a good thing. Doing more work with fewer people raises productivity. Productivity raises incomes. The developed world's prosperity is entirely linked to higher productivity. Also higher productivity creates the surplus (or the profit) that can be invested to create more jobs.

    3. If you want to produce a quality product or service it needs carrots AND sticks. With an employee who is not performing, you train, you mentor, you put them on Performance Improvement Plans. But in the end, the employee needs to know that if his performance does not improve he can lose his job. Without this freedom for businesses to manage for performance, it may be possible to compete against companies who are similarly hampered, but it is a clear disadvantage in the global market.

    4. It pushes employment generation into the informal sector. In my second stint at Levers I would have loved to hire people directly into the company instead of outsourcing critical functions like Sales. With the Levers brand name as an employer we would have got great talent which would have been better for the company. However, Levers would not do that for a new business that could have failed leaving them with employees they wouldn't know what to do with. So all of the hiring was done by outsourced contract firms. Did these employees get the PF and benefits they would have got at Levers? I doubt that very much. I don't think these contract firms even paid any taxes since they were probably classified as Small Scale.

    In summary, the current labour laws in India distort the business environment to where it reduces employment generation by discouraging investment, reduces income growth by discouraging productivity increases, reduces quality by taking away the freedom to manage for performance and pushes employment generation into the informal sector.

    Whenever I bring this up with people in industry in India, I am given many reasons why this is not a problem. Someone says 'Only 20% of my workforce is unionized, I just work around them'. Another one will say 'If you really want to fire an employee for performance, it can be done.' But most of all the reason I get is 'But the economy is doing so well why do we need to think about redundancies and labour flexibility?' On the contrary, it is because the economy is doing so well that this is the right time for labour reform.

    I believe this is the most important reform that government must now address. However, this is also the most difficult. Dismantling industrial licensing was like a walk in the park compared to this. With the government dependent upon the CPI(M) to stay in power makes it almost impossible to do major reforms. But major one-shot reforms aren't the right answer anyway. There should be a 10 year road map on labour reform. But starting now. Let's begin the discussion.



    --
    ~~~~ www.anilprasad.com

    Monday, May 1, 2006

    Shame on me...

    Everytime someone dies, the same drame is enacted, with no action.
    Useless commentories (TV reviews/interview, Letters to editors, Internet Groups) make a furore over the death... People call for action, Govt. promises the same. Some 'compensation' is promised - God knows if it actually reaches the family, some action committe is called for.
    Then what.... everyone goes home and starts their lives as if nothing happened.
    Afghanisthan is a clear example. During Khandhar plane hijack, a young business man on his honeymoon trip was killed. If you recollect properly, the same drama was enacted. Now once again the same, but artists are different.
    Politicians look for more media coverage with their tall claims and sympathysers for their few seconds of fame.
    huh... Deja Vu... more Deja Vu....
    At times I wonder, if we are all governed by cowards. (This question too was asked by many in recent years, so I am also one among the lot, who make statements. huh, same on me too)

    Letter to Mahadevan...

    Dear Mahadevan,
     
     
    Mr. Mahadevan commented that the latest discovery was very strong evidence that the Neolithic people of Tamil Nadu and the Indus Valley people "shared the same language, which can only be Dravidian and not Indo-Aryan." He added that before this discovery, the southernmost occurrence of the Indus script was at Daimabad, Maharashtra on the Pravara River in the Godavari Valley.
     
    Why is it that it has to be only Dravidian??? Why can't Tamil Nadu guys too be speaking the languages of Indus Valley and then developed their derivative Dravidian????
     
    Please suggest me the logic behind your assertion or comment.  (No propoganda statements please)
     
    Isn't Dravidianism another side of the myth called "Aryan Invasion Theory"? If not, please explain.
     
    Thanks and Regards,
    Anil Prasad
     
    PS: Reason for mass circulation is because I dont have his mail id. Kindly forward the same to him.