Wandering Mind While in Cary

1.

Age a Number: (At Eighty: Finally, I met the old man I see everyday early morning going out somewhere and coming back in the evening in a company uniform from the front verandah of our house where we usually keep sitting (photo from our veranda). Friday about 7.15am, I was on my my morning walk. He was coming from the other side on the walking track in our community, Harmony. I hesitated first first but then asked, ‘Sorry, If you don’t mind, I have a query about you. Can I ask?’ He nodded. I put my question, ‘Where do you go so early?’ ‘I am going for work. I work with Walmart.’ I fired my next question, ‘What is your age, Sir?’ ‘Eighty’ He answered and walked past me hurriedly. He is to walk two miles or so and similar distance he walks back in the evening. He is short in height, but pretty smart. He must be living with his offsprings or in his own house. I couldn’t find any more details about him, but I got a great respect for such hard working senior. …..,And then few days ago, I caught him again on the front side road while waiting for Anand for my evening walk. He was returning from his work and had some banana in plastic bag. To my queries, he told me ‘Myself Jagdish, born and brought up in Bombay, came in 2008 to US, and live with the family of my son down the Alliance Circle. My son टcame in US in 1989.’ We must keep ourselves active till last and if required, work too even with low remuneration? How does it matter, if it is just good enough to keep me busy? I can only adore such spirit.)

2

A Waiting Opportunity: (Bank of America Merrill Lynch has highlighted an opportunity for businesses and economic growth: the explosion of the global middle class.”In a world starved for growth, we believe that the answer lies in uplifting the 4.5 billion people at the base of the economic pyramid.” Can the younger Indian entrepreneurs, particularly the most enthusiastic ones going for start-ups keep this in mind? It must look into the manufacturing possibilities at the bottom of pyramids too. Can some workers groups in every village be skilled to manufacture items that the bottom billions will consume and market it through e-commerce platforms? http://www.businessinsider.com/market-could-be-biggest-in-history-of-commerce-2016-6 

BAML advisory reminds me of Late American Indian management thinker CK Prahalad who had pioneered the subject of ‘bottom billion’ well in 2002 in an article, ‘The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid’ in Strategy+Business followed by a book http://people.eecs.berkeley.edu/~brewer/ict4b/Fortune-BoP.pdf)

Educating India-We must give back: (Every time I come across the name of Former President, the Missile Man Abdul Kalam, a question comes in mind. Why other intellectuals and Giants of their own fields don’t emulate at least one of the traits of Kalam- the deep, almost missionary interest in talking to the students and workers of various educational and research institutes? Think of the impact on the students when persons such as Ratan Tata, Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, Ramadoorai, Vishal Sikka, or for that matter Manmohan Singh, Amartya Sen or Jagdish Bhagwati talking to the, on contemporary subjects such as Entrepreneurship and innovation, developmental economy, poverty elimination, possibility of manufacturing in rural India, business enterprises for bottom billion. I remember my own talk in IIT, Kharagpur on ‘Re-engineering of engineering courses’ or in IIT- BHU on ‘Latest in Automobile Manufacturing’. India can find hundreds and thousands of such experts to cover almost all top 1000-1500 educational institutes. It can bring all academics in line with the contemporary developments and the future requirements in their fields and help in creating India as one of significant Knowledge Hubs of the world. Interactions between academics and practising professionals must only be for summer jobs, training and placements but must be a continuous one. I always appeal all the established and successful technocrats that I meet in India or here in US to keep in touch with their own schools and colleges that they attended and talk with its teachers and students whenever they can visit there without any trouble. This may be their biggest contribution almost at no cost. India must looking out for them.) http://www.businessinsider.in/Less-than-8-ofIndian-engineers-are-employable-Report/articleshow/52747075.cms 

4. 

Modi’s Contribution to Yoga: Why should there be politics with Yoga in India just because Modi is trying to make it a part of every human being as a preventive measure to keep the quality of life at the best? Lakhs of people across India and abroad observed by stretching themselves in various postures to mark the second International Yoga Day on June21? Why did the politicians of ruling political parties of Bihar, one of birthplaces of Yoga, not participate in it? Embrace yoga like you have taken to mobile phones, as “it gives us health assurance at zero budget”, said Modi in Chandigarh. Let the best of India enlighten the world for making it a better place to live. 

5

23.06.2016

Bihar and IIT: Every season when the final list of successful students come out for the admission in IITs, the media gets agog with many success stories. One can find the story of Anand Kumar’s Super 30 of Patna in all print and digital media. Additional Director General of Police Abhyanand has his many -30s: Rahmani 30 and Triveni 30 in Patna, Ang 30 at Bhagalpur, Nalanda 30 at Biharsharif and Magadh 30 at Gaya: The students get free food and lodging during their nine-month coaching stint. A village near Gaya has approximately 109 IITians and is popularly known as the “Village of IITian. Similar stories from all around India appear in media. With very miserable condition of education at grassroots level in rural Bihar, these stories don’t excite me much. I start smelling some amount of marketing in them. But still I have two wishes: First, the government of state or centre must bear the total expenditure of those from financially weak families without following the caste based reservation schemes. Second, the students getting this assistance must sign an ‘agreement of promise’ to help getting at least one similarly poor student when they start earning sufficiently as a social responsibility. And this must be monitored by an agency, may be the institute itself.

24.06.2016

A new entrepreneurial idea: Even most of the bigger villages are not having a well defined market area or complex. Even though some shops are there, they operate through their ancestral houses in different part of the village. Some entrepreneur collaborating with some rich interested person of the village can think of investing in setting up a well located simply constructed market complex with 4-5 shops (as many as viable) and other infrastructure such as some open place for locally produced perishables. Even a poor woman can come sell her vegetables or fruits grown in her court yard. It can also have an open area where service providers e.g skilled persons- key makers, lock repairer, electrician or mobile phone repairer can be located. Can some give a thought on this idea that can engage some left out ones in the villages engagement? 

28.06.2016 

P.V. Narasimha Rao-My Tribute

Rao + Manmohan- Sonia (<5)= Economy Revived

Manmohan +Sonia(10)= Policy Paralysis

P.V. Narasimha Rao has been called: ‘modern India’s Chanakya’, ‘Half Lion: How P.V. Narasimha Rao Transformed India’, ‘a bad number two, but a very good number one, very ineffectual as foreign minister, superb prime minister, certainly among the best of the choices available’, ‘erudite, patient, ambiguous, shrewd’, “when in doubt, pout”. 

Rao could speak 9 Indian languages (Telegu, Hindi, Oriya, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil and Urdu) and 8 foreign languages ( English, French, Arabic, Spanish, German, Greek, Latin and Persian).

Sonia, a reluctant dowager, wished to rule from behind but always denied that in public. “Rao had simultaneously played both lion and mouse with Sonia.”  

Alas, Because of Sonia, Rao couldn’t get a memorial in Delhi. But Rao certainly deserves ‘Bharat Ratna’.

8

Between Government and Private jobs: Look at some of the observations on pay rise of government employees: 1. The bureaucrats typically get paid much less compared to the private sector. 2. The legion of peons, drivers, secretaries and teachers get paid 3-4 times as much; and with little pressure on performance, deliver very little. A government school teacher, before the pay panel award, with no experience gets paid R52,000 as compared to a mere R19,000 (at the top end) in the private sector; a fresh government nurse gets 3.4 times her private sector counterpart, a driver 1.8-2 times. 4. As an MBBS, doctor gets much more a pay in a government hospital if you’re an MBBS but as the skill levels rise—to an MD or an MS—private jobs pay much more. And Jaitley has promised to increased further the salary of lower grades. Government appears to be totally helpless to remove these discrepancies with a fear of trade unions and opposition hounding on it. I tweeted PM seeking his attention to the need of eliminating all the lower ranks e.g clerks, orderly, etc. by re-educating/skilling them and stopping entries after superannuation of the persons of these ranks.

9

Focus on Two Main Priorities: Somehow, I strongly feel that the Education and Healthcare ministries must come directly under the watch of the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers. Dismal conditions of education and health, particularly in rural India demands this change to get the necessary focus. By assigning these two functions of utmost importance for every family to junior ministers, it hardly gets the necessary attention, thrust and accountability. With the PM directly involved with it, the situation may change. Let us look first at education: “ASER 2014 found that 25 per cent in Class VIII could not read texts meant for the Class II level; the number of children in rural schools in Class II who could not even recognise the alphabet is up from 13.4 per cent in 2010 to 32.5 per cent in 2014. Reading levels for children in government schools show a sharp decline from 2010 to 2012. Half of all children in Class V have not yet learned basic skills that they should have acquired in Class II. And close to 50 per cent of children will finish eight years of schooling without having learnt the basic skills of arithmetic.” Years after years, the quality of education is deteriorating, as it is not only the salaries of teachers and infrastructure (in last few years there is plenty of improvement) that were needed. The government intention and contribution in improvement of education are in doubt. Everything is in real mess. And now the health: “2. 1.2 million children under the age of five died of totally preventable diseases in 2015. India’s key health indicator — Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) was 38 in 2014, lagging behind Bangladesh (IMR of 31) and Nepal (IMR of 29). One quote will be good enough to show the negligence,”Mothers are not dying because we do not know how to save them, but because the society has not decided that their lives are worth saving.” And in last 70 years, hardly few panchayats of rural India has got a basic small dispensary even. At least I have not heard of any in many panchayats of Bihar that I know. With PM and CMs in charge of health, this may change in three years if they wish with the resources with them.

10

Doubtful Intentions of India Inc: I wonder why India’s companies on an investment strike today. Even with huge domestic telecom and electronics market that can sustain investment in manufacturing in this area, the big investors such as Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Mittal wish to remain only in service related to this sector giving all advantages to the Chinese and Taiwanese. Why did Birlas and others went out of manufacturing preferring to stick with financial companies? Why are greenfield manufacturing companies not getting setup but for few MSMEs? Why do entrepreneurs such as Kishor Biyani prefer trading business of Malaysian furniture and selling them through Home Town and Home Centre? Is the business a rocket science or is there shortage of excellently skilled carpenters? It is all the lust of easy money that is their DNA. India will always be laggard if manufacturing sector does not grow in big way to meet the thirst of huge middle class of India. And this must attract those with business acumen. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/markets/stocks/news/the-loan-market-says-it-all-indias-companies-are-on-an-investment-strike/articleshow/53072915.cms Interestingly, a report of 2011, also have the same headline-‘Is India Inc set to go on Investment strike? Will the country take a note of it?

http://www.firstpost.com/business/is-india-inc-set-to-go-on-investment-strike-152251.html

11

Smriti Irani in new role: I have seen many enjoying the transfer of Smriti Irani from HRD ministry as a righteous act of Modi blaming her for all the chaos and conflict in universities of Hyderabad, Jadavpur or more notoriously reported JNU. However, I consider her very innovative in her approach to improve the education in country in India. She has been pleasantly different in her approach to root out the basic ills. Her Swachh India approach through school was praiseworthy. Her push for getting the best professors for India was another welcome move. I wish the new education minister will continue to push her ideas. Her transfer to textiles is pretty challenging, as she is push its exports to a respectable height. I wish in next three years she could attain a textile exports of 100 billion dollars. I wish her the best. She was one of the best in the last cabinet.

PS: An efficient minister can prove his worth even in less important ministry. I am sure with her aggressive targets, she does in textile too. However, textile is not a less important ministry with the data below-

•$ 100 Billion is the size, by revenue, that the textile and apparel industry in India is projected to reach by 2016-17, from $67 Billion in 2013-14

•45 Million people are employed directly in the textile industry, making it the largest employer after agriculture

•35 million is the number of additional jobs the new the new textile policy aims to create

•$36 billion is the amount textile and garment exports earn every year, which is equal to 14% of India’s export earnings

•$300 billion is the value the new textile policy aims to clock in exports by 2024-25

•2% of GDP is accounted for by the textile industry, making it crucial to the economy

•10% is the industry’s contribution to overall manufacturing production in the country

•100 is the number of countries to which India exports its textiles and garment. The United States and the European Union account for two-thirds of India’s textiles exports

•Rs. 6,000 crore is the special package cleared by cabinet for the textile ministry, just days before the reshuffle.

Is it not a very important ministry?

12

Opportunities for Start-ups in Farming : Rich and educated in agriculture sciences and engineering or just experienced ones in farming techniques in Bihar with business acumen can become new entrepreneurs in farming sector in hundreds. Here is a report of new approaches to improve productivity of farming and potentials for further innovations that can bring prosperity in Rural Region

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/startups/how-startup-em3-agri-services-is-tackling-farmers-distress-the-uber-way/articleshow/53133968.cms

13

Encouraging Reading Habit: Emma and Zach have just finished grade 1 and 3 respectively from Turner Creek Road Elementary School and next week they will move to grade 2 and 4. On one evening few days ago, Emma came to me to show her medal. It was for her proficiency in reading. She has been excellent in reading in her grade 3 class. Emma recorded 1360 minutes per quarter in reading. When I asked Shannon to know how many books she would have gone through in the year. “May be about 200 or more”, was her reply. I was surprised as well as excited about the performance. While Shannon bought herself larger percentage of the books-both fiction and non-fiction, Emma brought books from her school library too. Teachers do ask some question about the content of the book to verify if she has picked up the story or content well. Zach has also read similar number of books. I have a personal experience of that. Zach has been bringing books from his school library, sit with me, read it, and then got my signature on a form given by his teacher to have reading record. At all places I visited in US, I found kids and teens really in love of reading as many books as possible. US system does not have text books of languages as in India. I wonder why can’t our state school systems, teachers, parents in India make reading popular in kids? India must drop the system of textbooks prescribed by board and ask questions from it almost making rote necessary. Instead they must insist and ensure on reading books of various grade levels, both fictions and non-fictions taking the parents in the loop. Will it not make a great thing if in every sub-community of one village, a student reads a book for 15-20 minutes to their parents and they just listen to it as they watch and listen TV serials and news? Can’t they do even this much and learn many things not known to them, in turn? Can’t our writers and authors of vernacular and English write good books for students of K-12 building knowledge of all kind in an interesting manner and helping in improving the vocabulary gradually? This has been our ancient Indian tradition too. Teachers must be accountable and answerable too. Why is that the teens of India fail to pass the basic learning parameter of reading of any agency? Why a class V teen can’t read the book of class II? Why can’t the schooling of K-12, almost thirteen years through rural government schools, can’t make a student proficient in reading, speaking and writing of a language-be it English or his chosen vernacular? 


14

An US Graduation Celebration: Sunday, July 3, 2016 we had an opportunity to attend a graduation reception of Akanksha at Brier Creek Country Club in Raleigh, NC courtesy an invitation of Ajay Ray. It was a unique and first such experience for me in US. The huge number of invited young generation families of NRI American Indians appeared to be bubbling with its aspirations. As I understand, Akanksha has completed her grade 12 and will enter the famous Duke University for her graduate course in International Policy. The reception had everything- good food and drinks plus very nice entertainment from kids with their dances. But the most loved among those were the speeches about Akanksha from her friends and other close acquaintances and to my surprise many of them wished to see her as the Secretary of State one day. I see in her all the possibilities to reach anywhere high up and sincerely wish her to be in the highest position some day soon in American hierarchy. Many other boys and girls present there, as I came to know, were also getting into other top US universities such as Harvard, Stanford. I got also impressed with so huge a presence of people from Bihar that I had never experienced in last 10-12 years that I am visiting US, though I felt bad that I could talk with only one such Bihar couple from Pittsburg. As one must appreciate why I think so. With all my grandchildren here in US, naturally I was dreaming about their future too all along.But one thing is sure that Ajay and his wife Priyanka have a huge helping social circle. But perhaps the happiest two must be the parents of Ajay who attended the function of their granddaughter. We wish them and their kids a great future……..Graduation at different levels of schooling is pretty popular, and it starts at preschool stage itself….But the one after grade12 is the most significant, as its performance decides the course of professional career as in India too. However, it is hardly celebrated in the manner it is done in US as much as I know even today with almost every family with someone or the other in US.


15

A Bihari at Las Vegas: July 13, Wednesday evening Anand returned after his 4-days/3nights official sojourn of Las Vegas. We really missed him, but perhaps Yamuna, his mother missed him the most. Practically all these days she almost remained sick from various troubles. This may be a natural phenomenon of the nearness and attachment of relation. During tea and walk thereafter, Anand shared his experiences of Las Vegas. The story of an unknown but extrovert Bihari young man working for Cisco San Jose office who met Anand and spent some time before his panel discussion, was really interesting. He was from Barauni and educated at BIT, Sindri and ,in turn, the stranger could also find out the whereabouts of Anand.

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