January 14, 2005

Semester About to Start ......

As usual the Holidays end very quickly and the long Semester of Studies and research lie ahead....I felt these holidays have come and gone very very soon and I never felt as if I was on a break...as I had a standard routine...Get up at 8 or 8:30...go to the lab by 9:15...work till 12:30...eat lunch...work again from 1:00 to 5:15 or so....come home...have a cup of coffee with Sindhu and by 6:15 go to the Gym...come back by 8:00 (it closes at 8 during the break)...cook if its my cooking turn...watch a movie...if mood permits study or work on some lab stuff and go to bed by 1:30 - 2:00 am...and get up again in the morning....

its been like that for the past 3-4 weeks since the Fall semester ended...the only bright side of it is the Gym...I run for abt 3-4 miles and play TT Mon-wed and play Badminton thurday-Sun...for the past couple of days I have been playing Racquetball ... aahhh it feels good as its been abt 7-8 months since I last played racquetball...the last time was in May when i played the Final of the Kent State Tournament...wow...that was long time ago...my game has deteriorated from couple of years ago when i won the Bronze in the Nationals......I have not been able to finish off points and I am making a lot of mistakes....I guess its just lack of practice...

back to studies...the otehr day I was having a conversation with my friends abt the studies in the US and in India....though India is supposed to have an overall better quality of education...the proof is the number of Indians that are in the US....but I feel we have more of the theoretical knowledge than the practical knowledge..

back home in India students are pressurized in the 10th and 12th standards as if it would be the end of their world if they didnt get high percentages....common give the m a break..they are human beings tooo....

I had been thru that situation so i can testify the mental strain the students go thru. My parents have never pressurized me to study...I am very very thankful to them for that... they kind of understood that if they let me study as I wanted and when i wanted I did much better than they making me sit in a room and asking me to study...thats why I was allowed to play Badminton and cricket even during exams when my friends werent even allowed to leave the house...my neighbour even disconnected Cable TV so that his kid would study....for one whole year their family was without TV as it would be a distraction to the child...thats ridiculous...if he/she can be distracted so much that they would be neglecting their studies then something is really wrong there...

The standard routine for a 10th or 12th Grade student in India...is very very scary....they just do one thing...study, study and study again. the students are encourages to reproduce the whole text book...and the practice that the teachers would cut points for not writing as it is from the textbook is just adding fuel to this crazy practice of mugging up books and reproducing them without actually understanding them. I mean I know people who can just cram any number of pages given to them and they just continued that into Engineering where its simply not possible to cram the whole textbook...but i know some people who have done that and have also been successful...these are the guys with tremendous memory capacity...hats off to them

we were asked to give as many exams as possible thru-out the year so that we will be ready and will not hesitate when we see a question in the final exam....we were so used to writing answers to the same questions over and over again that sometimes i used to wonder if there is any difference between a 12th grade student and a Robot ???

the worst part is the chaos after the results...if u want to get into engineering u need to get mind boggling percentages in Maths, Physics and Chemistry (PCM) and if u want to get into Medicine then its Biology, Physics and Chemistry (PCB).

In Bombay it was a practice to get admission into an engineering college based on ur 12th grade marks in PCM, in other states they have a separate entrance exam for that..now thats case in Bombay too. if u want a free seat (abt Rs. 6000 a year) in a good college then u needed to get atleast 94%....else u will have to settle either for a below average college or a payment seat (Rs.50,000 per yr).....all this apart from the individual college fees, books etc. I had a 94.66 % and my rank in mumbai was 618 !!!!!!!! can u believe that ???? are we machines???? what else are we supposed to do???

my friend go 94.66 tooo but his rank was 750 ....confused???? well my aggregate total was higher (languages included)...so u not only need to score in PCM but u need to do well even in otehr subjects...in short u have to memorize text books of all the subjects and then also make time to learn the english grammer and not make any mistakes in that too....great!!!!!!!!!!!!

during the admission process I found out something else...the Quota system....yeah thats right...there is a quota for some sections of the community... I used to think why wasnt i born in that community???

There was 50% reservation for the Scheduled caste/Scheduled tribe....the supposedly economically backward classes...my foot...a couple of guys that I knew in college got admission in that quota and came to the college in a Car of their own !!!!!!!!! and I (and my other friends) was supposed to be from an advanced caste or economically strong setion of the community so we travelled by buses!!!!!!!! and worse our fees abt Rs.10,000 per yr (free seat) and their's was Rs.100...yeah thats right just hundred rupees...$2.00 for the whole year....

then there is Girls quota abt 30%, NRI quota, Defence Quota, free fighter's quota, out of state quota, management quota, sports quota etc......so normal guys like me had abt 10% of the seats to fight for...example if all of Bombay had 5000 engg seats we were eligible only for 500 and all the people that were in the above quotas were again eligible for these 500 also....great....why not just say...guys (not girls) from other castes just stop studying for engg and medicine and get into other fields or worse look out for jobs in a mechanic shop....I dont even want to get started abt the Caste system...its ridiculous....the way it was intended to function and the way we are using it currently.

anyways.....some positive light...I knew some peopel from the backward castes that were good students...they never tried to get in with the quota system...they used to always work hard and only take the seat that they would get by merit....that takes a lot of courage and determination as u will be tempted to take up a seat in a good college if u went into the quota....but they were satisfied with the seat in the average or just above average colleges as they earned those seats....I resepected the m a lot for their stand....

all this just shows something....that education system in India for engineering /Medicine or any other field needs to be reformed so that students can have a well rounded personality...thats one more reason why we have only 2 bronze medals and a silver medal to show in the past 5 olympics.....

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