Nation building – The role of universities

Nation Building – The Role of Universities – By the President Of India

I am indeed delighted to meet the Vice-Chancellors of the Universities in Punjab. My greetings to all the Vice Chancellors for their contribution in shaping the young minds in multiple fields to contribute towards national development.

The Universities have a major responsibility in nation building through enriching science, engineering, technology, humanities and arts by providing value based education to students to make them moral leaders. Hence, today I have selected the topic for my discussion as “Nation Building – The Role of Universities”.

Importance of Research

I had met the Vice Chancellors of different Universities in different parts of the country during the last four years. I thought of sharing with you two important results of these meetings.

First point was on research tasks in the university. The extent of the research work undertaken by the University becomes a measure of judgment and representation for that university. Experience of research leads to quality teaching, and quality teaching imparted to the young in turn enriches the research and higher learning. Research brings transformation and development and also enhances the quality of education. This sets in a regenerative cycle of excellence.

Moral Leadership

The second point came up was about the standing and excellence of the university to build moral leadership to the student. Hence, quality of research and teaching will attract students from many parts of the country, creating new environment and base for development of the Nation.

Convergence of Technologies

The information technology and communication technology have already converged leading to Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Information Technology combined with bio-technology has led to bio-informatics. Now, Nano-technology is knocking at our doors. It is the field of the future that will replace microelectronics and many fields with tremendous application potential in the areas of medicine, electronics and material science. When Nano technology and ICT meet, integrated silicon electronics, photonics are born and it can be said that material convergence will happen. With material convergence and biotechnology linked, a new science called Intelligent Bioscience will be born which would lead to a disease free, happy and more intelligent human habitat with longevity and high human capabilities. Convergence of bio-nano-info technologies can lead to the development of nano robots. Nano robots when they are injected into a patient, my expert friends say, it will diagnose and deliver the treatment exclusively in the affected area and then the nano-robot gets digested as it is a DNA based product.

Convergence of ICT, aerospace and Nano technologies will emerge and revolutionize the aerospace industry. This technological convergence will enable building of cost effective low weight, high payload, and highly reliable aerospace systems, which can be used for inter-planetary transportation.

India’s First Virtual University

I would like to mention about Virtual University system brought about by the Universities of Madras, Mumbai and Calcutta. This Virtual University system has led to the commencement of 10 joint degree, post graduate and Ph.D Programmes. I had inaugurated this programme from Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi through a Virtual Tele-Education delivery system, where 15000 students participated. I took the first class for 90 minutes followed by an interaction with all the three universities. I am very happy that this movement is first of its kind in the country. I would suggest the Universities of Punjab can also consider creation of Virtual University by networking the Universities which will enable maximum utilization of the core competence of the individual university and enrich the students with quality knowledge and skills.

Partner to Developed India – Missions

Transformation of India into a developed nation will need integrated action in the following areas namely: Agriculture and Food Processing, Education and Health care, Information and Communication Technology, Infrastructure and self-reliance in critical technologies. The key elements which require immediate attention for national development are Interlinking of rivers and Providing Urban facilities in Rural Areas (PURA). The core competence available at various universities will empower you for contributing in these national missions. Interlinking of rivers is essential for flood and drought control, for availability of drinking water to all regions, for goods navigation and transportation for increased power generation, cultivation land and environmental ecology. This mission will also provide employment opportunities to the rural population. Remote sensing to survey and evolve optimum water routes, environmental mapping and afforestation requirements and Ground Information System (GIS) from satellite constellation. Above all, the interlinking will lead to enhancement of environment and national connectivity. It is an interdisciplinary task involving many specialists from various fields of Science and Technology. The universities should actively involve in the interlinking of rivers task force and be partners of this mega mission.

Mission for Science Congress: Establishment of 100 PURA Clusters

During my address to the 93rd Indian Science Congress at Hyderabad, I had suggested that a decision can be taken to allot Rs. 500 crore to develop 100 PURA Clusters and its components (comprising of 20 to 30 villages in the vicinity of the institution/college) by the 100 selected educational institutions or colleges spread across the country. Rs. 5 crore each will be utilized for developing infrastructure in rural complexes such electronic and knowledge connectivity to 100 clusters leading to setting up of village knowledge centres; agri-clinics; tele-education and tele-medicine centres; and other employment oriented schemes such as bio-gas plants; water treatment plants (brackish to potable water); mobile clinic with tele-medicine facility; initiating Jatropha farming to extraction plants; bio-fuel esterification plants; cold storage; consumer product development; vocational training centres and setting up of business centres by the entrepreneurs for national and international marketing of the products from these rural enterprises. Action should be taken by the colleges in consultation with local people who are the beneficiaries of this programme.

These programmes initiated by 100 educational institutions colleges with public-private partnership will provide the experience to other institutions for taking up big programmes in future in an industrial scale. This venture will build the capacities of the villagers and encourage the Indian entrepreneurs to become an active partner in this development process. These activities should not be treated as mere experiments and scientific knowledge, it is the application of science and technology to societal transformation. The winners are the academic institutions and the rural people belonging to the PURA Clusters. At the end, there should be a clear assessment whether the users (villagers) have benefited by the villagers themselves. This can be assessed by a joint team of the village members and the scientists/technologists. This will lead to the birth of the Civic Scientists. I would suggest the Vice Chancellors assembled here to get in touch with Dr. I.V. Subba Rao, General President, 93rd Indian Science Congress for getting further information on the project so that at least three or four PURAs can be created in Punjab by educational institutions located in rural areas.

Entrepreneurship

The Universities in the country generate about 3 million graduates every year and they need employment either within and outside the state or abroad. University syllabi have to be integrated with entrepreneurship courses. At the end of the course students should get a certificate or a diploma. This will enable students qualified in the colleges, to have the confidence that they can start small enterprises in agriculture, manufacturing or service sectors based on the core competence of a particular region. Banks have to be entrepreneur friendly and should give them venture capital and support these young entrepreneurs and their creative ideas. The States can also start self-employment scheme on the lines of a scheme started by the J & K Government where a youth is provided low interest loan for self-employment projects. Universities have to play a major role in interfacing with the banks and the industries for creating entrepreneurs and enterprises. Now, I would like to talk about Global Human Resource cadre.

Global Human Resource

There is a need for quality human resource in the country in all sectors of the economy namely agriculture, manufacturing and services. Since there is a mismatch between availability and the requirement of human resource, cost of hiring is going up, which is not sustainable in the long run. We have to face this challenge and the higher education system and the technical skill education system have to gear up to generate manpower with employable skills in quantity and quality at all levels. The education system has to be relevant to present day manpower needs and be sensitive to global changes that are taking place in every sector of the economy. The syllabus require review and change periodically keeping in mind the present and future development tasks.

At present India has 540 million youth under the age of 25 which will continuously grow till 2050. Keeping this resource in mind, universities and educational systems in the State should create two cadres: (1) a global cadre of skilled youth with specific knowledge of special skills and (2) another global cadre of youth with higher education to take up research and leadership roles. These two cadres will be required not only for powering all sectors of our economy, but also to be a reservoir of knowledge for the rest of the world.

Universities, colleges and training institutions will have to work towards increasing the throughput of the higher education system from the existing 6 percent to 20 percent by 2015, 30 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2040. This is a mission that must be undertaken by universities and colleges in the State. At the Government level all efforts should be made to remove shackles in the growth of educational institutions by giving greater autonomy and removing controls.

Employment in IT Sector

As per the recent NASSCOM – McKinsey Report 2005, India has the largest talent supply for offshore IT and BPO. The IT and BPO industry will be creating over 9 million jobs by 2010 exceeding planned employment creation across all special programmes of the State and Central Governments. It will also create 6.5 million indirect and induced jobs to support offshore IT and BPO industries in 2010. This will include employment in several sectors such as construction, retail and transport.

Conclusion

I see a spirit of service amongst overseas Indians who have gone and settled in different countries from Punjab. Let me share some of the examples: an Educational Complex is coming up at Sanghol through Rana Charitable Trust, Lord Swaraj Paul has created a school of excellence in manufacturing and material sciences as a part of Punjab Technical University. Baba Bhat Singh Trust at village Padhiane in Hoshiarpur district is providing education commencing from primary school to professional courses including engineering, nursing, pharmaceutical at an affordable cost to the rural people. Another educational complex has come up at Dalwandi Sabo near Jalandhar called Yavindra College of Engineering which has been created with the funds donated by NRIs of that region. Also, Shri H.G.S. Gill, an NRI at Karodi village in Hoshiyarpur District has provided the village with a central sewerage system. Also he has equipped the schools with computers and organized computer training. There many more such initiatives. Definitely, the spirit of service of overseas Indians from Punjab is admirable. The Vice Chancellors of the Universities in Punjab and the Government may like to harness such trends of service from overseas Indians for reinforcing the existing university system for higher level of capacity building. My best wishes to all the Vice-Chancellors of Universities in the State of Punjab success in their mission of contributing towards promotion of value based quality education to the youth.

May God bless you.

Some interesting quotes by Andy Grove

  • “When TV first came, people tried to look at it as a radio with pictures. We’re at the stage now where the Internet is TV with poor connections.” (August 2001)
  • “A fundamental rule in technology says that whatever can be done will be done.”
  • “Only the paranoid will survive”

Software testing – Principles and practices

I must congratulate Mr.Srinivasan Desikan and Mr.Gopalswamy Ramesh for coming out with  this exeplary book on software testing. Since I know Srini well at Novell, I very much know what I can expect from him, when it comes to testing. I rate him as one of the most knowledgeable in software testing. I just went through some of the chapters in this book very fast and it is done well. It is from experience.

Book price – Rs.250

Publishers – Pearson education

The index

  1. Principles of testing
  2. Software development lifecycle models
  3. Types of testing
  4. Black box testing
  5. Integration testing
  6. System and acceptance testing
  7. Performance testing
  8. Regression testing
  9. Internationalization testing
  10. Adhoc testing
  11. Testing of object oriented systems
  12. Usability and accessibility testing
  13. Common people issues
  14. Organization structures for testing teams
  15. Test planning, management, execution and reporting
  16. software test automation
  17. Test metrics and measurement

Total number of pages 485

Manging high profile teams

 

Dealing with high profile knowledge workers need not be as difficult as one feel.. All it needs is an ability to look at the changed team composition and be happy about it, than getting nervous about it. Handling such high potential teams become very rewarding and enjoyable, if one can pro-actively apply the key principles of FBAR (first break all rules) by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman to real life project management. I am emphasizing the word ‘principle’ because, when in intelligent teams, techniques wont work, and principles will.  I still remember the key points which hit me, when I read the book a couple of years back, that means these points should have benefited me. By nature, it is very difficult for me to remember names of people, books, authors etc. The very fact that I could remember  FBAR and the it’s underlying concepts even  after two years, by itself is the proof of it’s relevancy in day to day work.

 

 Okay, I already goofed up. I already said that, I have the inability to remember names!. Oops!, I meant to say that, I have the ability to forget names!. Who said that it is a weakness?, the ability to forget things, creates the ability to learn new things!, so it is a strength. Let us start the discussion from the point of strength.

 

The key points that comes to my mind, when I think of FBAR are;

 

1) Everyone joins organizations as motivated and daring to go individuals. As the days passes by, majority of them slowly slips into the de motivation spiral, which will eventually teach them to subscribe to mediocrity. Some slow and steady entropy happens day by day in most of the cases. Hence the first and foremost challenge of the project manager is not in just motivating them further but the fundamental challenge is in insulating  them from de-motivation. Read it again. The underlying message has some inner message.  Zen on it.

 

2) Somebody is selected into the team for their strengths. Hence as a manager, your focus should be on their strengths than their weaknesses. If as a manager, you focus only on the weaknesses of the team members, then you loose focus on their strengths. The following paragraph from a story can explain this easily;

Once upon a time, the animals decided they should do something meaningful to meet the problems of the new world. So they organized a school.

They adopted an activity curriculum of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects.

The duck was excellent at swimming; in fact, better than his instructor. But he made only passing grades in flying, and was very poor at running. Since he was slow in running, he had to drop swimming and stay after school to practice running. This caused his web feet to be badly worn, so that he was only average in swimming. But average was quite acceptable so nobody worried about that–except the duck.

The rabbit started at the top of his class in running, but developed a nervous twitch in his leg muscles because of so much make-up work in swimming.

The squirrel was excellent in climbing, but he encountered constant frustration in flying class because his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the treetop down. He developed “charlie horses” from overexertion, and so only got a C in climbing and a D in running.

The eagle was a problem child and was severely disciplined for being a non-conformist. In climbing he beat all the others to the top of the tree, but insisted on using his way to get there . . . .

A duck is a duck–and only a duck. It is built to swim, not to run or fly and certainly not to climb. A squirrel is a squirrel–and only that. To move it out of its forte, climbing, and then expect it to swim or fly will drive a squirrel nuts. Eagles are beautiful creatures in the air but not in a foot race. The rabbit will win every time unless, of course, the eagle gets hungry.

For a moment, just think about the performance appraisals you had with your supervisors. At the end of them, were you motivated or de motivated  than you were before the performance appraisal?. From my experience, very often it was very de-motivating. Majority of the time, the guy who was sitting on the other side of the table was busy in pointing out, what I did wrong and where I should improve. I was alright with this approach, when I was very new to the job, and the guy sitting on the other side was more qualified and highly experienced than me. As the days passed by, my experience and skill levels grew, and the difference between me and my bosses started narrowing down and at the same time, ironically, the tone of the performance appraisals remained the same, and naturally me too picked up the same style, till I came across some thing better, and that mantra is ‘focus on the strengths, than the weaknesses’. 

 

What if, the guy sitting on the other side, do not have any strengths, which is relevant to my work?

The following passage from the ‘Art of War‘ may throw some light into this;

The skilled employer of men will employ the wise man, the brave man, the covetous man and the stupid man. For the wise man delights in establishing his merit, the brave man likes to show his courage in action, the covetous man is quick at seizing advantages, and the stupid man has no fear of death.

In project scenarios, you are not going to get the ideal team well suited and well balanced for the work on hand. One has to get the best out of the given team to meet the project objectives.

What is the moral of the story. In a team environment, every one comes with certain skills and strengths. As a team leader if  you can identify these strengths as early as possible and  then create an environment where team members can support each other based on their strengths, then the job is done. Like any other good stuff, this will not happen automatically. The manager has to create an environment of trust  and caring within teams. How?

 

Where to start?

Please rate yourself on the following 12 questions, on a 1 to 5 scale, where 5 > 1. Do not think too much before answering. Use Blink. the first rating that comes to your mind is the correct one.

1) Do I know what is expected of me at work?

2) Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

3) At work do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

4) In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?

5) Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

6) Is there someone at work, who encourages my development?

7) At work, do my opinions seem to count?

8) Does the mission / purpose of my project make me feel like my work is important?

9) Are my co-workers committed to do quality work?

10) Do I have the best friend at work?

11) In the last six months, have I talked with someone about my progress?

12) At work, have I had opportunities to learn and grow?

 

These twelve questions are the simplest and most accurate way to measure the strength of a work place. As a manager, your only challenge is to get a high score on these 12 questions from your team. This is how we went ahead;

 

  • We all, answered this questionnaire once in 3 months, initially, once improved, it became once in 6 months

  • We aggregated the scores at the team level, and the team level scores were discussed in the team meetings to storm our minds for those most appropriate actions, which would improve the team scores.

  • The individual filled up questionnaires were discussed in one to one meetings in a very open way

 

The results we got;

  • The trust level within the team improved

  • Spent less time in monitoring and control

  • Everyone started believing that they are on some very important mission

  • Candid feedbacks at every level, accepted with willingness, resulted in better work results

  • No sudden attritions. Because of the open environment, even bad news were discussed well in advance

 

Reference

  • First break all rules by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman

  • The art of war by Sun Tzu

Congratulations Senthil PMP !

Dear Friends,

Thank you very much for your kind wishes and greetings. I am grateful to you all for the motivation and care shown towards me when I mentioned about my exam this week. It is indeed really exciting and I should thank our instructor Mr. Abrachan Pudussery (ABY) for his excellent, sincere and highly skilled effort in making us understand the KEY components of PMBOK and the tricks to attend the exam, in those three days of Face2Face. Also, the PMP-Distilled website tests made me more comfortable in facing the online test.

I hereby request ABY to accept my heartfelt thanks in pushing me achieve this milestone so early. My best wishes to him to continue his sincere journey of Training Professionals and to make more PMPs on the way.

Again my thanks are due to my colleague and friend Mr. Ramesh PMP and Mr. Rajender Bali – SmartGlobal in helping me attend this PMP Distilled course.

Thank you all once again and wish to hear more success stories from you soon. Please make it a point to read the PMBOK cover-to-cover & line-by-line before attempting the simulation tests and final exam. ABY advised me to prepare like we do for university exam in these 7 days and I sincerely followed.

Best wishes and good luck.

Regards

Senthil

Honeywell