Saturday, July 11, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
"Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani"
You have a choice only over your action (karma) and not over the result of the action. Its good to desire a favorable result but one should not get attached to the result to the extent that only a favorable result will make one happy or content. Be unattached to your work, property, people, possessions... they belong to you but should not dictate your life or happiness...
The key here is the sense of detachment to your activities in the material plane of existence. Carry out all your activities but don't get too attached to the results, which are anyway, not in your hands. Don't let the success or failure here affect your general sense of well being which in reality is linked to something else.
Easier said than done!! But its never too late to start attempting this for the takeaways are great!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Every time I watch this movie, I feel it was ahead of its times. Taking a break from the romance and revenge centric plots of the movies of those times, this was one of the earliest thrillers, a la SPEED, of Bollywood movies. Not only does the movie boast of a good storyline, it has also been well directed and well researched. One of my biggest cribs with the Bollywood movies is that they are very poorly researched and amateurish in their portrayal of the real life situations. The problems and the solutions shown in the movie are intelligent and well thought of. To cite a couple of examples, I'll have to write a synopsis of the movie.
The movie is about an Indian Railways engineer who wants to design a locomotive capable of hauling a train between Delhi and Mumbai in 12 hours. (28 years since the move was released, it still takes 17 hours for our fastest train to cover that distance). His prototype is accepted and six years later, the locomotive is ready for its inaugural run. But a competing colleague's jealousy results in the locomotive losing its drivers and the vacuum brakes. On top of that, an act of negligence in the pantry results in the train catching fire. So as the 'Burning Train' hurtles past the stations and the countryside on the Delhi-Mumbai route carrying thousands of panic stricken passengers with it, the entire railway staff goes into an overdrive to save the passengers and stop the train. Some of the solutions that have been suggested to stop the train are as follows:-
- The Railway authorities ask the passengers to access the engine and pull the emergency brakes. But how to get this message across to the passengers. Remember, we are talking about times when there were no mobile phones. The Central room has lost contact with the engine or the guard carriage. The message is relayed through AIR (yes our good old All India Radio) and sure enough one of the passengers happens to hear the relay though this solution doesn't work as the emergency brakes have got jammed due to the explosion.
- To stop the fire from spreading and engulfing the train any further, the connector between the coaches is removed to remove the medium for the fire to spread. Elementary but where Bollywood is concerned, even the elementary goes for a toss
- Another one is to build an elevated embankment to slow down the train and then blow up the coupling between the engine and the coaches. The coaches will be stopped and the engine will collide with the crash pads but the passengers will be saved. Sounds Credible?
To all those who haven't watched this movie, I would definitely recommend it. And to Bollywood...anyone up for a remake?
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The first would be the Infrastructure Sector. With predictions of close to 5 billion dollars of investment in this sector in the next decade, Infrastructure Sector is set for a rapid growth. High Growth areas within Infrastructure would be Energy, steel, cement, telecom, real estate, construction, metals, aggro products and power.
Next on my list is the Retail sector. Organized Retail is set for a huge take off despite facing opposition from all fronts. But it is becoming indispensable as the huge middle class demands better quality, ease of shopping, more value for its money and more variety. As a result, Retail Sector is set to grow 4 folds in the next 5 years and will create job opportunities for millions.
Auto parts and ancillary industries will also see huge business in the next decade with the offshoring model of the IT being successfully replicated here. Indigenous parts production will satisfy the requirements of not just the domestic demand but also of the auto markets located abroad with the low cost bug catching up. China, however, would be a tough competitor in this sector.
So if you have some money, please invest in these sectors and reap the benefits :)
Saturday, December 15, 2007
India, on the other hand, has lumbered through the last 60 years of independence to stand where it is today. I admit that the state of affairs in India at the time of independence cannot be compared to that which was in Japan after the atomic attack. The ruin in India's case was more social than economic or political. The scars, inflicted by years of oppression and subjugation that had affected the mental and social fabric of the diaspora, are still visible today and its reverberations can be felt even today.
After being guilty of digressing in the last two paragraphs, I would like to come to the point which directly answers the question that I have sought to name this article with - "What Ails my Country". The feeling of insecurity among its denizens. Why do i say that would be the question arising in the minds of those of you who have managed to read this far. The people in Nippon have a very simple edict that they abide to. Every action of theirs is governed by this rule. "The Nation comes first followed by the organization for which they work, then the family and the last and certainly the least comes the individual." In India, its just the opposite. The self takes the prominence followed by family, caste and regional considerations and by the time we think about the country, there is hardly anything or anyone left. Now what best explains this tendency among us? Its the insecurity of survival embedded in our subconscious which drives us to act the way we do.
In our early days of independence, we were the legacy of considerable periods of subjugation. The long awaited independence came as a sudden found luxury and became a tool for misusing the democracy. The insecurity, however, would not be erased from the minds of the people so easily. This resulted in socialistic economic policies that promised security at the cost of creativity and gave rise to widespread corruption, overbearing bureaucrats and babudom and the tendency to place the individual interests first. Time has churned the past generation with the present one which is now at the fore of the affairs in the country. The present generation has not witnessed the subjugation as was witnessed by generation of the past. Why then do our tendencies still remain the same that is individualistic in nature? The reason as you might have already guessed is that we are still insecure. This insecurity is the result of another phenomenon that gripped our society after independence. The baby boom or the population explosion. Our resources are limited but due to the rising population, the strain on them is enormous. We are all fighting for a share in the limited resources and the fear of being left out is deeply ensconced in our subconscious. Right from our school days, we are told not to share our work with others so that we don't lose the advantage that we might have gained over others.
Now how are these individualistic tendencies affecting India. They have a direct bearing on the state of the nation as they are prevalent in every horizon of our society. From the policy makers to a poor farmer, every decision taken is in the best interest of the individual. The result is a stuttering nation that knows what is the best for it but does not have the will or willingness to implement it. How can we get rid of this malaise? In my opinion, there is just one way out of the mess that we are in today. Control our population so that we can give our posteriors a chance to lead a quality life , lessen the burden on our resources and eradicate the burden of insecurity from their lives forever.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Being in Japan was like being in a different world altogether very different from the one that we have been born and brought up in. It seems difficult to believe that the country has made such rapid strides in the last 60 years. But the biggest difference that came to my observation was the people. Never in my life before have I come across people so polite and respecting. Not even once, in my three months in Japan, did I encounter a single incident of any person even talking in a raised voice to another let alone the question of witnessing a fight or a brawl. Japan does not have a history of non-violence (samurais and the world war 2) and this behaviour of its people really stumped me. But I had to accept it. They are the most well behaved and courteous people that I have come across till date.
As for the country, it has everything that you expect a developed nation to have. Good Roads, unlimited power, a very effective public transport system to name a few. Now to mention a few downsides, the first one would obviously be the language. English is still a language which very few in Japan know or understand. It is not even a second language in schools from what I have been told. So any foreigner has a very difficult time in communicating and if it is a long stay in Japan, learning the local language is necessary. The next will be the expense. Tokyo is a very expensive city and the general well being of the people has spiraled the prices of everything there.
In short, I found Japan to be a small and a quiet place with a world of its own untouched by the world outside with its own language, culture and heritage and offering its people a life full of security, independence and worry free environment.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
The movie is about a man's experience during the decay and subsequent end of a highly advanced Mayan civilization. The depiction of slavery and sacrifices practiced by the Mayans make the film brutal and gory to watch. But the movie has been shot in a way that makes every action seem realistic. The scenes in the forest, the hunting scene at the beginning and the waterfall scene to mention a few. The actors have done their best and none is a misfit. The prophecy of the leprosy infected girl adds an element of thrill and supernatural in the movie.
Mel Gibson has done a wonderful job as the director and for his choice of subject. His effort to present the long lost civilization and to showcase the gradual decline of highly advanced civilization is commendable.
As he says in the opening quote
"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it is destroyed from within"
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
1. Rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist of a music band..money, fame, women..is there anything that these guys don't have!!( a successful one though :))
2. Cricket Commentator who gets to see all the India's matches free of cost from the press box, makes free foreign trips, gets the right to bash the cricketers and then gets paid for it!! (Harsha Bhogle..are you reading?)
3. A blabbering VJ who gets paid for all the nonsense he dishes out and also gets an opportunity to be surrounded with good looking chicks
4. Mallika Sherawat's body guard!! ( do i need to explain why)
5. born as an ameer baap ki not-so-bigdi aulaad so that i wouldn't be required to write such crap on such sadistic topics
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Saturday, April 14, 2007
11. And then he kissed me- The Crystals
Friday, April 13, 2007
Have I been busy? Yes and No. Yes because there have been lots of developments lately which have kept me a little busy. I added another company to the list of the companies that I have worked in. I have left i2 and joined IBM in their consulting division at Gurgaon. So I am back home. I have joined as a Process Consultant in Supply Chain Strategy and right now I am enjoying my time on bench :).
Apart from that, I have also got an admit from NUS. So this is another decision that I have to take in the coming days.
Monday, January 01, 2007
- Indian Railways is the 2nd largest rail network in the world and the largest in Asia
- Indian Railway network is spread over 81,511 Km covering 6,896 stations
- Operating Ratio has improved from 98 to 91 and a target has been set to bring it down further to 87
- Dedicated Freight Corridor
- Public-Private Partnership
- Rail land development
- Rationalization of Freight Tarrif
- National Highways (NH)
- State Highways (SH)
- Major District Roads (MDR)
- Other District Roads (ODR)
- Village Roads (VR)
- India has the second largest road network in the world with a total network of 3.3 million kms.
- It carries 65% of freight and 85% of passenger traffic
- The National Highways comprise 2% of the road network and carry 40% of the road based traffic
- The State Highways comprise 4% of the road network
- State Highways (SHs) and Major District Roads (MDRs) constitute the secondary system of road infrastructure of India
- The secondary system caries about 40 per cent of the total road traffic and comprises about 20% of the total road length
- Only 47% of the India's roads are paved
- The average productivity of a truck is 200 kms a day as against 350- 400 kms that would be possible through reduction of congestion
- There has been a staggering 100 fold increase in the population of motorized vehicles, however, only a 8 fold increase in terms of road length during the same period
National Highway Development Program
Phase1- Four or Six laning of the National Highways between Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai popularly known as the Golden Quadrilateral comprising around 6000kms.
Phase2- Development of National Highways on the North-South and East-West Corridor comprising 7300 Kms
Phase3- Upgrading of existing NHs, two laning of imp. roads and expansion of crowded NHs to 6 lanes comprising 10500 Kms
Phase4- 4 to 6 laning of addtional 6000 kms of NHs
Phase5- Widen 4000 kms of NHs to 6 lanes
Phase6- Imp. highways would be converted into expressways
Phase7- Construction of ring roads in cities for proper regulation of traffic
- Rationalization of Motor Vehicle Tax regime
- Urban and Rural Transport Policy which facilitates land acquisition, shifting of utilities, approval for cutting of trees, control of law and order and encroachments
- Encourage the use of multi-axle vehicle
- Technology upgrade for bus and truck manufacturing
Sunday, December 31, 2006
The Infrastructure sector, however, has problems of its own. The Infrastructure projects are capital intensive with long gestation periods. Long term finance is hard to get in India. Also, the viability of projects is difficult to ascertain due to difficulties in forecasting. Due to lack of transparency in policies in certain sectors, the private sector investments are hard to get by. As a result a number of specialized consulting firms have come up which provide their expertise and experience to government bodies, financial institutions and infrastructure owners, operators, builders and developers.These firms specialize in management, technical, financial and operational analysis. These consultants comprise senior professional who are experts in the fields of nfrastructure Finance and Economics, Policy Planning, Strategic Planning and Organizational Management, Systems Analysis and Forecasting and Knowledge Management and help the infrasture entities determine how best to develop infrastructure assets, optimize their assets, deliver fundamental services cost effectively, and compete more efficiently.
They assist in the formulation of vision, policies, initiatives and projects that not only have tremendous strategic importance, but are economically viable and sustainable from inception and assess the need for reforms and developing policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks to enable the discharge of public responsibility for infrastructure provisioning in an environment of increasing private participation.
Assist clients in overcoming the environmental, statutory, political, and community impediments by supplying a combination of strategic, legal and regulatory advice to enable timely project delivery.
The strategic planning process offers an opportunity to confirm an agency’s mission and vision; define current conditions and prioritize issues; set performance, financial, organizational, institutional, and operational goals; develop strategies and benchmarks; and ultimately convey persuasive messages to stakeholders and the public at large
Infrastructure Finance and Economics
Consultants provides innovative economic evaluation and financing techniques to both public and private sector clients. Evaluations include the economic benefits of transportation, power and other infrastructure projects; impacts on local, regional and state economies; financial feasibility analyses; alternative approaches to state and local government finance; toll revenue studies; bond analyses; value capture and joint development studies; alternative pricing/toll structures; tariff studies for electricity supply; financial constraints/financial capacity analyses; real estate market evaluation; load forecasting and asset valuation for electricity systems; and cargo forecasting for port feasibility projects.
Systems Analysis, Evaluation and Forecasting
Good travel forecasting models and procedures are essential for sound project planning and decision making. They play a central role in identifying problems and opportunities, shaping and evaluating alternatives, identifying design standards and capacities, and quantifying environmental impacts. However, travel forecasting often represents a significant challenge because the procedures are complex, models may not have been updated recently, or issues of concern to a region’s planners and decision makers are not addressed.
Therefore, the Infrastructure Consultants provide holistic solutions to the Infrastructure projects that can guide the process of implementation from conceptualisation to commissioning.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
- The State and Central Government sectors account for 58% and 32% of the generation capacity respectively while the private sector accounts for about 10%
- India is the third largest producer of electricity in Asia
- Total Generation Capacity of around 1,13,000 MW
- Per capita consumption of electricity at 580 kwh which is expected to rise to 1000kwh in the next 10 years
- About 56% of households have access to electricity, with the rural access being 44% and urban access about 82%
- Peak & energy shortages of 7.1% & 11.2%
- T&D losses are in the range of 18% to 62% in various States. The aggregate technical & commercial (AT&C) losses are in the range of 50% of power generation. Out of the total generated power, about 55% is billed and only about 41% is realised.
Issues plaguing the Power Sector
- inadequate power generation capacity
- lack of optimum utilisation of the existing generation capacity
- inadequate inter-regional transmission links
- inadequate and ageing sub-transmission & distribution network leading to power cuts and local failures/faults
- T&D losses, large scale theft and skewed tariff structure
- slow pace of rural electrification
- inefficient use of electricity by the end consumer
- lack of grid discipline
- Plans to augment generation capacity by 1 lakh MW by 2012 out of which 77,000 is to come up in public sector and the rest in private sector
- 50,000 MW of Renewable Energy to be developed by 2017
- Access to electricity to be available for all households in the next 5 years.
- Availability of power on demand to be fully met by 2012.
- Energy shortage and peaking shortage to be overcome by providing adequate spinning reserves.
- Reliability and quality of power to be supplied in efficient manner.
- Electricity Sector to achieve financial turnaround and commercial viability.
- Consumers’ interests to be accorded top priority
Strategies to achieve 'Power for All':
- Power Generation Strategy with focus on an integrated approach including low cost generation, optimization of capacity utilization, controlling the input cost, optimisation of fuel mix, technology upgradation, capacity addition through nuclear and non-conventional energy sources, high priority for development of hydro power, a comprehensive project monitoring and control system
- Transmission Strategy with focus on development of National Grid including Interstate connections, Technology upgradation & optimization of transmission cost.
- Distribution strategy to achieve Distribution Reforms with focus on System upgradation, loss reduction, theft control, consumer service orientation, quality power supply commercialization, Decentralized distributed generation and supply for rural areas.
- Regulation Strategy aimed at protecting Consumer interests and making the sector commercially viable.
- Financing Strategy to generate resources for required growth of the power sector.
- Conservation Strategy to optimise the utilization of electricity with focus on Demand Side management, Load management and Technology upgradation to provide energy efficient equipment / gadgets.
- Communication Strategy for political consensus with media support to enhance the general public awareness.
Monday, December 25, 2006
-The country is divided into 23 Service Areas consisting of 19 Telecom Circle Service/Metro Service Areas
-India's Telecom Network is 5th largest in the world
- 107 million subscribers
- Teledensity of 12%
- Rural Teledensity of 2%
- Urban Teledensity around 31%
- A teledensity of 22% is being targeted by the end of 2007
-ADC and USO(Universal Service Obligation)
Unified Licence Regime
Does away with the need to seek separate licences for offering various services such as basic telephony, cellular telephony, broadband, ILD and NLD
Unified Access Services
Unified Access Services operators are free to provide, within their area of operation, services which cover collection, carriage, transmission and delivery of voice and/or non-voice messages over Licensee’s network by using any technology.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Infrastructure capital is the asset of a nation, a value added to its existing natural resources. The last decade has seen Indian economy growing at an average rate of above 6% next only to China, Singapore and S.Korea. A growth rate of over 8% is being targeted for the next decade. This rapid growth has been fueled by the performance of both the services and the manufacturing sectors. The country now witnesses an increase in manufacturing and exports and imports(trade) while the bull run of the services sector continues unabated.
Demand and public consumption have grown up manifolds due to both higher earnings and a numerical increase in the workforce which has lead to the factories targetting higher production. Also with the liberalization of fiscal and trade policies, our economy has been opened to the world economy and the Indian Industries now compete directly in the global markets or against the global players within the Indian markets. To remain competitive, they need strong global linkages and their products need to be competitively priced. This in effect boiles down to our enterprises requiring quick and easy access to raw materials at lower trasportation costs to reduce their input costs. Also, they need to make sure that their produce reaches the market at the earliest so as to reduce the handling and inventory costs and also to reduce the risk of obsoleteness in this highly dynamic business environment. How can we ensure that the growth and deveopment of our Industries are not hampered by the supply bottlenecks of critical services like power, transportation, availability of key raw material resources such as iron,cement etc and telecommunication. Yes, by upgrading the infrastructure which in essence refers to the critical services such as power, transport, energy, raw materials availability and communication which lend critical support to the daily operations of our industries and enterprises.
I think this gives a fair idea on why Infrastructure sector has shot into prominence in the last decade and on why our Government is commited to bring investements to the tune of 350 billion dollars into this sector in the next decade.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Infrastructure is a set of interconnected structural elements that provide the framework supporting an entire structure. Nowadays, this term is used in a variety of applications such as infrastructure of a city or region, information technology, informal and formal channels of communication, software development tools etc. What I am going to talk about in my future articles is the civil infrastructure which is the backbone of our economy. A comprehension of infrastructure spans not only these public infrastructure facilities, but also the operating procedures, management practices, and development policies that interact together with societal demand and the physical world to facilitate the transport of people and goods, provision of water for drinking and a variety of other uses, safe disposal of society's waste products, provision of energy where it is needed, and transmission of information within and between communities.
Public works are the construction or engineering projects carried out by the state on behalf of the community. It often describes the maintenance functions, accounting treatment and agencies, not just the structures.
Public infrastructure means any infrastructural capital under public ownership - that is, any such capital asset that is not firm-specific infrastructure.
It refers to any physical means of production or means of protection beyond that which can be gathered or found directly in nature, i.e. beyond natural capital and that which is not considered "fluid capital". It may include tools, clothing, shelter, irrigation systems, dams, roads, boats, ports, factories or any physical improvements made to nature.
An internal improvement is some constructible object, via which, a nation can improve its economic infrastructure.
Examples of internal improvements are: airports, canals, dams, dikes, pipelines, railroads, roads, tunnels, and artificial harbours.
The private sector of a nation's economy consists of those entities which are not controlled by the state - i.e., a variety of entities such as private firms and companies, corporations, banks (other than central banks), charities, non-governmental organizations and individuals.
The public sector is the part of economic and administrative life that deals with the delivery of goods and services by and for the government, whether national, regional or local/municipal.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
The first step was to find good books for preparation. I got some idea about the standard books used for GMAT preparation by visiting the forums and searching websites. The Official Guide or OG published by the company that conducts GMAT, I learnt was the most important and indispensable resource you could lay your hands on for GMAT. But it costs a whopping 1800 bucks in India. I, therefore, decided to give the second hand sale markets a try. But it was a worthless effort. The only book available there was the Barrons which is supposedly the worst book you can pick. Crestfallen, I returned home and my GMAT preparation looked in danger of a premature ending. It was then that my brother came to my rescue. He got the OG11 and GMAT 800 from Delhi(Nai Sarak). Also my friend Devan(DD2) shared a lot of GMAT stuff in soft copies from Germany. And thus began my preparation for GMAT.
It was in June that I finally got down to study. I had booked my dates for September 8 and I had 3 months to prepare. But the study material I had, looked grossly inadequate to last for 3 months. There were some more books that I wanted to buy but they were either not available or were too expensive. A friend of mine solved this problem. He had recieved a mail from an unknown guy who deals in selling the photocopies of all the GMAT books. I got in touch with this guy and though he was charging a little high for the photocopies, me and my friend decided to go for it in partnership. Did we have a choice??
I was all set. The project that i was working on was in the development phase. I knew that it would be difficult for me to find time consistently for studies. So I decided to grab all the time that I would get in the future. I decided to use my weekends fully. I started with OG but my roommate, who had already given GMAT, told me this was a bad way to begin. His reasoning was that OG represents the questions which are closest to GMAT both in content and level and so it would be more prudent to use it towards the middle or the end of the preparation. Valid point and so taken!! I started with Princeton Verbal Workbook. Verbal was the area I was mainly worried about.
GMAT generally tests you on 3 parts in Verbal
1. Sentence Correction(SC)
2. Reading Comprehension(RC)
3. Critical Reasoning (CR)
My intent was to mantain 90% accuracy accross the three areas. And in Princeton Verbal i could achieve that. It boosted my confidence tremendously and i felt that perhaps GMAT is just the exam I am naturally good at.
However, Kaplan Verbal Workbook, which I used next, rid me of all such fallacies. I realized that I had a problem on hand and Verbal would prove to be tough nut to crack. SC and CR were the problem areas. I was struggling to get even 80% accuracy in these sections. I completed the Kaplan Verbal Workbook but my accuracy refused to improve.
I picked up OG10 after that. OG10 is an awesome resource for practice. It contains around 300 questions each in SC, CR and RC and covers questions of every type that can be asked in GMAT. No other material gives you as many questions for practice. Even after completing OG10, I was not making much headway in SC and was still getting a number of them wrong.
It was then that I happened to look into http://sentencecorrection.com. And following the questions posted there and the subsequent discussions made me realize how to approach the sentence correction questions. Also I picked up some very important GMAT specific rules here a small example being the difference between the usage of 'such as' and 'like'. Usually at office, in between work, I would look at the questions posted there. To put it mildly, sentencecorrection.com was a big help to me as far as sentence correction was concerned.
And then I laid my hands on Manhattan SC. I had heard a lot about this book but was still sceptical until I opened it. This book is a pure joy for people preparing for GMAT. It is a concise access to all the GMAT specific rules as well as a guide to english grammar in general without getting too much into the technicalities. By this time, I had only 15 days left before I was scheduled to take the test and I had not given a single mock test till now. Also, I had not prepared for Quant and AWA. I decided to take two tests every weekend.
I started with Princeton. Scored 720 and 710 in the tests 3 and 4. Fairly ok but I found something wrong with their scoring pattern. Despite getting just two questions wrong in Quant and too not at the beginning, it used to give me a score of 46. Anyways I moved ahead. I decided that I did not have enough time to delve deep into Quant. So decided would practice a little bit of DS. I found the CAT books suitable for that. In Verbal, I was doing GMAT800 by Kaplan which is the toughest book available for GMAT. Its a nice book but a little too tough especially the RCs and the CRs.
The following weekend I gave a couple of Kaplan tests. My scores- 680 and 650. Decent scores for a Kaplan test. In the last week I decided to do nothing except the Powerprep. I decided to go back to OG10 for the sentence correction questions. In Powerprep, I scored 750 and 720. The PowerPrep is the best resource I found for the Quant questions. Some of the quant question were really good and I was surprised to see them in a GMAT software for GMAT quant is considered to be easy. I would say that the last 15 days should be spent only with PowerPrep and OG. Powerprep for its Quant and OG for its Verbal.
Well finally the day came. I had a restless night and got up quite early. Reached my Test Center one and a half hours before the scheduled time. They made me start early. The test center atmosphere is nice and you feel relaxed when there. The staff is friendly and helpful. I could concentrate well in the AWA and the Quant sections but during the Verbal section, my concentration began to waver. I began thinking about my score. I tried hard to concentrate and finally completed the exam. And then the system asked whether I would like to view my score or cancel the exam. I decided to go for it. I could hear my heart beat while the screen showed "Wait while your scores are processed". And finally it showed up.
770!! Quant-50, Verbal-44. And wasn't I happy.
However I didn't do well on the AWA-4.5.
So this was my GMAT story.
Wish all of you the very best in yours too.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
The girls in IIT Madras are an awfully pampered lot. From Fellow students and the Professors to the companies who come for recruitment in the 4th year, all contribute to this pampering. They live a charmed live on the campus and are showered with a lot of attention. Opportunities and avenues abound for them . Ofcourse being in small numbers has a major role to play in this status elevation.
Let me back my claims with facts. My batch(2004 passout) had around 25 girls out of the total batch strength of 500, a boy to girls ratio of 19:1. The strength in my branch was, infact, very healthy boasting of 3 girls among 19 guys. In the very first semester, while the boys struggle to lay their hands on second hand books or drafters, the girls have a problem of plenty. A number of 'nice' and 'benevolent' seniors are ready to part with theirs without charging a penny.. The network with seniors already established, it is now time to turn our attention towards the batchmates. We would always struggle to get the best notes in the classroom though the girls had access to them at will. At some point during my 4 years, it beacame inevitable for us to get the notes of my batchmate X from the girls as we would have been refused point blank had we tried to get them directly from X. Its the turn of the professors now. Some of the professors had a 'soft corner' for the girls. So we knew what had to be done to postpone the delivery date of an assignment or to get a class timing changed. The girls were assigned that duty. The companies now? Well it is a well known fact in IITs that it is the easiest for the girls to get placed. I have an incident to relate here. One of my hostel mates returned after an interview with a well known IT company after being rejected. Seeing him visibly upset, I enquired. He didn't make it he said which was fine but why was a girl with a CG of 4.x selected, who had barely managed to pass in time. The guy in question was an eight pointer and among the toppers in his branch.
Its easy for me to go on and on and relate instances when they get special attention. Whether it is the Co-ordship for SARAANG or the invitation for the Hostel Nites, they are the preferred species. Hostel Nites are a very hilarious example in this regard. I think the girls manage to avoid eating the bland hostel grub for the whole month of April,the reason being that the institute hostel nites are celebrated during that period and they, invariably, get invited to all of them.
In the end, I just wish that God gives an opportunity to everyone on this planet to be born as an IITian girl.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
There is so much to write and share about these 4 years that I wonder how and what to share. I will write down my experiences structured year wise and each chapter will contain an years experience. So those of you, who have shown an interest in reading about my experiences, will have to bear patiently as I wind through these 4 years slowly like a slow sailing ship on calm waters, an apt analogy for a boy who wanted to be 'An Ocean Engineer and a Naval Architect'. To keep the interest alive, I will try to make my experiences broad and universal in nature in an attempt to give you a peek into the inscrutable life of IIT Madras.
Chapter 1: The Struggle:1st Year at IIT Madras
"I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley"
Words from a well known poetry,which most of us have read, and I find these words apt to describe how I felt at the time of joining IIT Madras. The summer of 2000 it was when, by God's Grace and to the joy of my family, I cleared IIT-JEE and managed to secure a seat in IIT Madras. My branch of study was going to be Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture. Know anything about this field? No?? Welcome to the club. Even i don't, till today . I was not very excited at the prospect of going to Chennai for it would be my first foray into the south and the horror stories of Chennai had already reached my ears. But the thrill of being a part of one of best institutions of the country and the value associated with it had overshadowed everything else and here I was travelling to Chennai with my Father, who was as excited as me, if not less, at the thought of my studying in an IIT. So with words of wisdom from my mother, I set out to enter a new world.
My Father stayed with me for a couple of days and during this time he efficiently finished all the work required to set me up for a hostel life at a new place. The paper work was done, bank account was opened and the money which I would require deposited , articles of daily use were bought and after accomplishing all his tasks he left with more words of wisdom. I, for my part, was trying to adjust in the new environment. I was a little worried at the prospect of not having any Hindi speaking guy in my hostel. Was I the only North Indian to have foolishly opted for an IIT in the south? All such fears were allayed when I found to my relief that the population of North Indians in my batch was quite healthy though there were not as many in my hostel. But as it would turn out, I made very good friends even with the guys from South whom I found to be very friendly and accomodating. Guys from Andhra,Gults, as they are called in IIT Madras, were a big number and though all of them generally stayed together, they were nice and friendly. Both my roomies were Gults and the fact that both of them used to converse in Telugu did make me feel a little left out at times. But this problem was solved by the Institute (insti henceforth) when one of them was transferred to another hostel leaving me and Praveen Babu behind in Room No. 273, Narmada Hostel.
Before I start with other things, a little about the IIT Madras Campus. It is a beautiful place carved out of the Guindy National Park and spread over an area of 700 Acres. I don't have the official figures but I believe that 60-70% of the campus area is wooded and inhabited by various species of the deer family. It is a beautiful sight to see the students, most of them on their bicycles, cycling down to the classes and passing hordes of dears grazing or busy with their daily tasks. The hostels were a disappointment. The rooms were fine, both the 3 seater ones as well as the single accomodation ones, but the BOGS( Bathroom of Graduate Students) were a nightmare. What else do you expect from Toilets and Bathrooms constructed way back in 1958 and never renovated since. This would, however, change as you will know a little later. The hostel also had a big quadrangle for games, a common room for reading and listening purpose, a TV room and a TT room apart from ,ofcourse, the mess. At the insti level, the facilities for the extra curricular activities were tremendous. For Sports, you name it and we'll have it was the common refrain. IIT Madras has a wonderful cricket ground called Chemplast Cricket Ground. So good and well mantained is this ground that it has even hosted the Indian cricket team for the practice camp before the 2000 Champions trophy in Kenya. The auditorium, the lecture halls and the Departments facilities all left me spell bound and it was then that I realized what it takes to develop an IIT.
My Department, Department of Ocean Engineering, boasted of impressive facilities too. Wave flumes, both deep and shallow, an artificial wave maker, a towing tank, an instrumentation lab containing some of the most sophisticated equipments are just some of the many sophisticated facilities that the Department boasts of. For having a look at these in details, you can visit the page http://oec.iitm.ac.in/.
The academic calander at IIT is pre-planned and the schedule for every day and every class is religiously followed. I still remember the Professor in my very first class in IITM, a Physics lecture, telling us that during these 4 years at IIT we would be taking around 200 quizzes and semester exams. Irrespective of what the others think, I personally feel that the academic pressure in IITs is tough and to get good grades, you need to be regular in your studies. We had to clear 180 credits in the next 4 years to earn the coveted IIT B.Tech degree. 180 Credits is not a small number and recently the council in IIT has significantly reduced the number of credits from 180 to 150. We had two round of quizzes followed by the end semester exams in every semester which decided our Grade Point Average(GPA) for the current semester. The Branch change unlike in the other Engineering Colleges was decided on the basis of the first semester's results only.
The classes started at full swing. The routine was very very tough to say the least. I had 24 credits in the first semester with only 2 aftys free. Afty is a short form for afternoons. Every semester it was common for the people to find out as to how many afternoons they will be getting free. An afty free was a precious posession. It was an escape from the sleepy afternoon classes or the gruelling lab sessions in the sultry weather conditions of Chennai to the comfortable confines of our room where we could retire for a much desired siesta. The most painful of all the courses, as everyone from the insti will vouch for, were the 2 credit courses such as ED(Engineering Drawing), ID( Industrial Design..this is a course unique to IIT Madras and no the Engineering College in the world teaches it), Work Shop and the Phyiscs Lab. They made us work the hardest and the returns from them, even on scoring a decent grade, was minimal as they carried a weightage of just 2 points. So every week constituted around 25 hrs of classes, 6 hrs of workshop, 3 hrs of Physics Lab,3 hrs of Engineering Drawing Lab and an uncountable number of hours to be spent in the Hostel completing the ED drawings, ID project and the course assignments( also called tut. sheets). It was the first semester when I had seen the students working the hardest in their 4 years at IIT. The reason, i guess, might be the prospect of a Branch change combined with the general sense of responsibility which everyone possesses after stepping out of their homes for the first time. It is another thing that this sense of responsibility does not take too long to vanish.
I had a poor first semester academically and the end semester exams were hugely responsible for the fiasco. My strategy of studying on the last night before the exam bombed in my face. Inspite of having decent pre-ends(marks from the quizzes) in some of the subjects, I ended up with poor grades in them. Second Semester and the new year of 2001, therefore, welcomed me with this news. It depressed me no doubt and I made it a point to study more regularly from now on. But somehow it never happened. Also, I started feeling a little homesick in this semester and it took some harsh words from one of the seniors to bring me out of this condition. Thanks to him.
Even semester is considered the fun semester of the IIT life. It starts with the GFKR Basketball tournament and it is fun to see the girls playing basketball in shorts and the IIT girl's team getting thrashed in every game. But kudos to their spirit. They still keep going without getting disturbed by the belting that they receive just like the Indian cricket team does.We consider the Basketball tournament a precursor to SAARANG( the annual cultural festival of IIT Madras). SAARANG is a week of complete unadulterated fun. This is the only time during the year when we see a lot of girls in the campus. There is always a talk of how SAARANG is a good opportunity to get a girl friend but sadly I haven't accross too many examples of this happening. Most of the girls that come to SAARANG are with their boyfriends and consider SAARANG a way to chill out with their partners. Nevertheless SAARANG is full of fun. From the Pro-shows to literary events to dance workshops to the DJs and the dancing on the roads of IITM, it is a never ending list of fun-filled events. No doubt the end of SAARANG brings with it a feeling of sadness and a realization of the impending 1st quiz. I became the ticket sales volunteer during SAARANG. Though I had wanted a more coveted vol-ship, I had to settle with ticket sales because I did not belong to hostels where most of the co-ords lived. They naturally preferred the guys belonging to their hostels and one place was left for the girls hostel. This gives some insight into the undercurrent of politics that runs among the students in IIT Madras.
After SAARANG, the next big event that arrives is the Institute and Hostel elections where we elect the cultural secretary and his team and on the hostel level our various secretaries. Its a month long event of politics and campaigning at its best.
Next come the Hostel Nights. Each Hostel celebrates its day of formation with a theme and events put up by its inmates. It culminates with a sumptous dinner and a grand farewell to the passing out batch wherein they are toasted and their secrects and biggest embarassments are let out before everyone. We can invite our friends from other hostels and from outside IIT. The cynosure of all Hostel Nights in the girl's hostel nite. This is the only occasion during the year when we are allowed to enter the girl's hostel and see how they live. But only a few are lucky enough to get this opportunity. Yours truly was one among the lucky few having been invited to three consecutive hostel nites. First year was the only abberation. The hostel nites also gave us the opportunity to indulge in gossip and who got invited by the girls in the batch was a thing of immense interest for everyone. The End Semester followed the Hostel Nite and after a week of forced insomnia, it was time to bid farewell to the institute for a much deserved break and a trip home. We were all looking forward to it. But the students of Naval Arch., had to go for a 2 week long training programme at the Cochin Shipyard. The purpose of this training was to enable us to get a feel of the real ship and its structure and the various processes involved in its construction. This would help us in our subsequent semesters. That was a fun trip too and all of us used to make it a point to escape from the shipyard after lunch for sightseeing. After the training, it was time to head home to be with the eagerly waiting parents and thus ended my eventful first year at IIT Madras.