The Other Side of Life: A FreeRider's Perspective

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The HR Initiative

Went to the State Bank of India today to extend my Student Loan for the STEP Program. They just did some formalities and processed my application. My total loan now is in the range of 6 lakhs.

That reminds me of the step taken some time back by the HR Minister to reduce the Fees at IIMs from Rs 3lakhs to Rs 30,000. The explanation given was that not every student is able to avail of the loan and hence such high fees discourage the poor students to apply for IIMs. Now I can see how blatant a lie it is.

In my loan processing nowhere did the bank had any dealing with my parents. Not that if they had, I would have been denied loan. I am from a relatively well to do, though not very rich family. But leaving myself aside nowhere in our bath or for that matter any other previous batch from any IIMs that I have heard of, has been denied education loan.

And it does sounds logical. With placements going so strong in all IIMs, a bank would be hitting itself if it denies education loan to an IIM student. And coming to the background of the people, there is a common perception that the students coming to IIMs are from the rich class. Most of us belong to middle class and there are some students of both high Socio-Economic and Low Socio-Economic classes. Though still it doesn't have as many poor students as the IITs but still IIMs cann't at all be called elite institutes.

There is another misconception regarding the facilities at IIMs, that I learned during my Internship. Some students from other MBA institutes(yup MBA institutes) believe IIMs to be some kinda 5-star hotel with AC in every room, FtF carpet etc. I simply fail to understand why do we need AC room for college students. Don't students shoould have frugal lifestyles. Specially in a relatively poor country like India. And it is not the IIM students who crib about all this but the outside intelligensia.

However in one respect I feel that IIMs are biased, against the students from non-English speaking background. The CAT paper has very high level of Verbal section and the Reading Comprehension is definitely not trivial. But lets face it, in todays world if you want to be a good manager, you have got to have good communication skills. And good communication skills do mean good English. But still I don't believe this barrier is unsurmountable and in all batches there are students from UP, Bihar, rajasthan etc who had Hindi speaking background.

So if any of the relatively low SEC student with not so good English, preparing for CAT is reading this, just pick up your Wren and Martin for grammar and few Ayn rand for RC. Dont worry about the finance. And please dont believe in the HR Minister, either the previous one or this one.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

India and Israel

[Since this post covers a number of aspects , to keep the post short I have written it in summary form. but appropriate links have been provide where reqd]

When I first introduced myself to the students of my Step University WakeForest I got a very good response. Alumni from our institute have done exceedingly well across the years on the Student Exchange Program. When they further learned that I was from IIT, the appreciation further increased. Who doesn't know IIT in USA.

But then some strange things happened. When the Mumbai blast happened, some of my friends from France and US expressed concern and send me "Hope India gets well" type of messages. But the thing is that I just don't need them. When I have done well in life, the place where I am studying is renowned all over the world, why should I be an object of sympathy because of the inability of our spineless politicians to take decisive action. When we have best tehnicians, managers and bureaucrats in the world why should we still remain a terror victimised country, looking towards foreign support for survival of our citizens. Now you mayn't agree about the best bureaucrats but believe me, they are one of the best, if not the best.

Just to put things in perspective, in 1965 war Indian forces have reached as far as Lahore and then suddenly Lal Bahadur Shastri, our PM agreed to ceasefire. We could easily have taken PoK at that time. Then again in 1971 war, we did succeed in separating bangladesh from Pakistan. We had captured 10,000 pakistani soldiers but decided to release them unconditionally. We let go off our advantage in both these situations. Though we shoudn't have taken any land from Pakistan but atleast we could have had our Kashmir back.

Now with the Mumbai blasts. Seven blasts rocked suburban trains in Mumbai on 11th July and led to killing of about 200 people and injury to many more.

The spirit of Mumbai was once again evident with people going out of the way to help each other. And as usual Day after blasts, Mumbai limped back to normal.

Incidentally or intentionally there was a blast on the same day in Srinagar(J&K). But anyways we have stopped worrying about the terrorism in that part of the country.

The reaction from Indian politicians was pathetic, to say the least. Prime Minister came out with some global statements like Mumbai blasts had cross-border support (Dont we anyways know it)and "Action, commitment needed from Pakistan"(Now we don't need action from Pakistan, we need it from you). With other parties it was worse. Even as the Students Islamic Movement of India appeared on the Mumbai police's list of suspects responsible for Tuesday's serial blasts, the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Uttar Pradesh government gave the organisation a clean chit. BJP and Left played their own games.

On the other side, Mr.Kasuri, Foreign Minister of Pakistan said that said the 'best way' of dealing with extremism in South Asia is to tackle 'real issue' of Jammu and Kashmir. General Musharraf wants concrete information instead of unsubstantiated allegations. They went to the extent of claiming that India has made Pakistan a scapegoat. On the other hand India is still hopeful that Pakistan will join war on terror.

Now towards the other side of the story. On July 18th Israel attacked Lebanese army base near Beirut. Israel's prime minister said Monday that Israel will continue fighting in Lebanon until the release of two Israeli soldiers abducted last week.

Now, Israel massed tanks and troops on the border, called up reserves and warned civilians to flee Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon as it prepared Friday for a likely ground invasion to set up a deep buffer zone.

Somehow I feel that India and Israel have a lot in common. We both are terror struck countries with hostile neighbors on all sides. We both are democracies within the midst of vast desert of autocratic governments. But we are following different strategies towards similar problems.

Though personally i am not in favour of violence, having myself criticized rang de basanti quiet a few times. But the thing is that the issue has gone out of hand, with no hope of pakistan ever cooperating. And India will continue to bleed, it seems, if it doesn't take any aggressive step. The whole technological and economic progress cann't be sustainable unless there is safety and security for its citizens. And what is the use of spending 4% of our GDP in defence if anyways we are not going to use it. we can spend that money in education, health or even distributing free pizzas to Indian citizens. Atleast it has some utility value for them. Defence spending has none.

Just before World War II, when Jews were being thrown out of thir land, Jawahar Lal Nehru offered them to come to India. In return Israel is the only country in the world to have supported India in all the 3 wars. Today Israel is one of the largest defence supplier to India. And it can provide technology to India in diverse fields from dry farming to biochips. India on the other hand should support Israel on all international forums.

But it wont happen. India will be back with all the peace initiatives and confidence building measures with Pakistan. Till the next attack happens. And it does sadden me that inspite of myself doing so well in life I have to read all those sympathetic mails from the American and French students.