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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Educating India

India is the Largest democracy in the world, the 6th largest country in the world and one of the most ancient and living civilizations. India has an ancient tradition of education. The world's first university was established in Takshila in 700 B.C. Indian mathematicians introduced the zero, the decimal system and the method of multiplication. Indian astronomers were tracking the heavens as far back as 3,100 B.C. Education is still highly regarded in India.

Higher Education in India is one of the most developed in the entire world. There has in fact been considerable improvement in the higher education scenario of India in both quantitative and qualitative terms. In technical education, the IITs, and in management, the IIMs have already marked their names among the top higher educational institutes of the world. Moreover, the Jawaharlal University and Delhi University are also regarded as top higher educational institutes for doing postgraduates courses and research in science, humanities and social sciences. As a result, students from various parts of the world are coming today for higher education in India.

India is today one of the fastest developing countries of the world with the annual growth rate going above 9%. In order to sustain that rate of growth, there is need to increase the number of institutes and also the quality of higher education in India. Therefore the Prime Minister of India has announced the establishment of 8 IITs, seven Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and five Indian Institutes of Science, Education and Research (IISERs) and 30 Central Universities in his speech to the nation on the 60th Independence Day. The outlay for education during the 11th Five Year Plan, which runs from the current fiscal to 2012-13, represents a four-fold increase over the previous plan and stands at Rs 2500 billion.

India has significant advantages in building a large, high quality higher education system. It has a large higher education sector – the third largest in the world in student numbers after China and the United States. It uses English as a primary language of higher education and research. It has a number of high quality institutions that can form the basis of a world-class higher education system. The governance of the Indian Higher education sector is changing. Like the Indian economy underwent a liberalizing in the 1990s, the education system is gradually being opened up for change and decentralization. In particular, the federal and state governments are gradually giving higher education institutions more decision and spending power. This represents a move away from detailed government control over spending, teaching, and curriculum decisions, which required frequent approval from federal or state government officials.

We have the third largest higher secondary education system in the world with 25 Central Universities, 231 state universities, five institutions established through state legislation, 100 deemed universities, 31 Institutes of National Importance as on 31st December2007. In 2005-06, the total enrollment of students in all courses(professional and non-professional) and levels in regular stream was 11.04 million. States control the school system, though the central government provides financial assistance and planning. Primary school is free and officially compulsory between the ages of 6 and 14, after which students must pay for education. For women, education is free up to the undergraduate level.

Schooling in India is considered amongst the best in the world. What better proof can be there than provided by the present elementary education scenario in Japan. Despite an improved economy, Japan is suffering a crisis of confidence these days about its ability to compete with its emerging Asian rivals, China and India. One result has been a growing craze for Indian education in this fad-obsessed nation. The Indian boomlet reflects the insecurity many Japanese feel about schools in their country, facilities that once turned out students who consistently ranked at the top of international tests. But now many are looking for lessons from India, a country seen by many in Japan as the world's ascendant education superpower. Bookstores are filled with titles like "Extreme Indian Arithmetic Drills" and "The Unknown Secrets of the Indians." Newspapers carry reports of Indian children memorizing multiplication tables far beyond nine times nine, the standard for young elementary students in Japan. And the few Indian international schools in Japan are reporting a surge in applications from Japanese families. Indian education is a frequent topic in public forums, from talk shows to conferences on education. Popular books claim to reveal the Indian secrets for multiplying and dividing multiple-digit numbers.

As for the American education system, it has one major flaw: it's nicknamed 'edutainment'. Many teachers find themselves having to think of ways to constantly entertain their students and keep them motivated. It becomes a task of performing in the class instead of teaching. The U.S. Administration has now awaken to the need to follow the Indian teaching techniques in their schools in order to make American students compete with international students, especially in their learning of maths – nine times nine!


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