Monday, December 14, 2009

IGNOU launches Flexi-Learn for continuing education

Good news atlast for those who have a long desire to continue education.

Prospective students can now log on to Indira Gandhi National Open University’s (IGNOU) Flexi-Learn , to pick the subject of their choice and gain education free of cost.

According to an official press release, Flexi-Learn provides free and easy access to IGNOU’s courses. It integrates free learning resources with learning management systems for anyone who wants to learn, whatever their educational needs and experience.

The platform provides an alternate way of awarding degrees and diplomas. The student can pay the fee later and get a Certificate.

“Flexi-Learn offers courses in a completely open and flexible environment with a number of unique features, like, a visitor to the Flexi-Learn site has the option to register for any particular course or for a full length programme. A modular approach is followed wherein a learner can combine course credits to obtain a degree or diploma of their choice,” said an official.

In addition, the platform provides a self-learning environment with a list of Academic Advisors/ Course guides to act as mentors. The Personal Learning Environment (PLE) will also have interactive tools like Discussion Boards, Blogs, Wikis, podcasting, RSS Feeds etc.

Each course also has the option for both online as well as offline assessment, as per the choice of the learner, who can take exams ‘on demand’.

A complete tracking mechanism is integrated into the Flexi-Learn platform through e-portfolios of individual learners. The E-portfolio will keep a formal record of all formal and informal studies carried out by the registered learner.

Certification of the courses will be based on stipulated time spent on a course and completion of all learning activities identified by the faculty.

The Flexi-Learn platform provides an opportunity for prospective learners to sample a course before enrolling and help them in choosing courses and programmes of study.

Course wise registration facilities will also offer topic specific continuing education programmes.

“This platform also provides a flexible framework for Schools of Studies to identify and combine different courses already available, for offering tailor-made, need-based programmes,” he added.

In the long run, this unique initiative will help in achieving IGNOU’s objective of democratization of education by taking it to the doorsteps of the learners and providing high-quality education to anyone who seeks it.

The courses that are offered now are limited to the below, but there is a long list worth watching.

  • Law
  • Agriculture
  • Library Science

There are some virtual classes that are really worth looking at too. The portal is designed using moodle which is a cool open-source education/course oriented content management system.

I am really glad that open source is used for good purposes instead of relying on flashy or silverlighty commercial softwares.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Should India be broken into smaller states to facilitate better governance?

There is no direct answer like Yes and No for such a herculean task.

India is the 4th largest democracy and number two in terms of population.

Any wise administration would not encourage further divisions to happen as it is a huge cost to the exchequer and directly to the tax-payers like you and me.

I believe that radically thinking the government should plan for reforms in the immediate future not only for development but also for administrative reforms.

I do not have the facts, but the constitution should have addendum to facilitate the minimum requirements for further division of a particular state, district or tehsil. it should not succumb to mere pressure politics and give in to rioting mobs.

the good part of what has happened today for a widely spread state is that it will now will have a respectful number of regions that it can focus on. I hope the people of India whichever state they belong to will vote for the right people, encourage and support the right administration.

we need to grow not in number of states alone but grow towards better infrastructure, administration, economy and social security.

God Bless India - Jai Hind

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Choose your path

At this time of economic recession when everything seems to be like hell and there seems to be no end to it.

all around you find people clinging to their jobs, fearing loosing their livelihood would starve them.

At this pathetic time, I came across a beautiful quote, that I would like to share with you all.

" If you follow the crowd, you will likely get no further than the crowd. If you walk alone, you're likely to end up in places no one has ever been before. Being an achiever is not without its difficulties, for peculiarity breeds contempt. The unfortunate thing about being ahead of your time is that when people finally realize you were right, they'll simply say it was obvious to everyone all along. You have two choices in life. You can dissolve into the main stream, or you can choose to become an achiever and be distinct. To be distinct, you must be different. To be different, you must strive to be what no else but you can be "
Unknown Wise Men

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ancient Indian Temple Architecture

One of my good old colleagues in NLB does a great job for living. Apart from his regular digitisation work, He also helps and conducts exhibitions mostly around Indian influences in South East Asia.

One of his popular contributions was evident in the "Kaalachakra" exhibition.

Over a coffee he had asked me to translate few sanskrit terms that were in a book called -
"Temple consecration rituals in ancient India. text and archaeology" By Reknowned Indologist, Anna A. Ślączka.

Anna holds a Ph.D. (2006) in Indology, from Leiden University, in the Netherlands. She was a research fellow at the Research School for Asian, African and Amerindian Studies (CNWS) and is an affiliated fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies (IIAS) in Leiden. She presented several papers on consecration rituals of South and Southeast Asia.

I got a chance to skim through the book and was amazed at the amount of research the author had undergone. I was enlightened and ashamed to the fact that I dint know anything about the rich architectural science Indian scholars had left behind for us.

I was trying to help my friend in interpreting the "box" which is laid during the temple construction. the book describes it fantastically. I googled for him before reading the book and sent him an excerpt from a blog article published in by Shri Sreenivasa Rao that describes Temple architecture in the common man's language.

"As per the tradition of Vedic worship, the rituals of Vastupujan, Bhumipujan, Bhumishodhan, and Shilanyasa are performed at an auspicious time before commencing the construction of a building.

Vastu Shastra is counted among the sixty-four principal faculties of knowledge which emanated directly from the Vedas. Several hymns or formulae in the Rigveda and Yajurveda pertain to the origin of Vastukala (architectural and constructional art).

Like the four Vedas there are four Up-vedas, namely, Gandharveda, Dhanurveda, Ayurveda and Sthaptyaveda. Of these, as mentioned in our introductory article, the last one happens to be what was developed as the Vastu Shastra in the successive ages – the periods of the vedic scriptures like the Brahmans, Aranyaks, Upanishads and Puranas. The subsequent post-vedic times of the Ramayana and Mahabharata are believed to be the periods when this knowledge (of Vastu) was deciphered and disseminated in its most evolved and practicable form. The planning and architecture in the grand cities of Lanka, Ayodhya, Hastinapur, Dwarika in that era are regarded as exemplary monuments of Vastukala

Garbhadhana, Shilanyasa is the ceremony for laying foundation stone. It is the laying of the first stone (square in shape) or a brick signifying the start of construction. It is laid in the north-western corner of the building plan, drawn on the ground. After this, the construction of the foundation is taken up. The foundation is built and the ground filled up, up to the plinth level, except in the middle portion of the garbhagraha area, which is filled up three-fourths.

The Brahmasthana , the principal location in a temple where the Garbagraha will eventually come up, is the nucleus of the Vastu Purusha Yantra. At the brahmasthana, as drawn on the grounda ritual is performed called garbhadhana, inviting the soul of the temple (Vastu Purusha) to enter within the buildings confines. In this ritual, a golden box is imbedded in the earth. The interior of the box is divided into smaller units exactly resembling the vastu-purusha-mandala. All the units of the gold box are first partially filled with earth. In the thirty-two units representing the nakshatras (lunar mansions), the units of Brahma and the twelve sons of Aditi, the priest places an appropriate mantra in written form to invoke the presence of the corresponding divinity .An Image of Ananta , the hooded serpent , is also placed in the box. Ananta, meaning eternal or timeless, also represents the energy that supports the universe. The box also contains nine precious stones - diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls, yellow sapphire, and blue sapphire, red coral, cats-eye and jade – to appease the nine planets.

The whole thing is covered by another stone slab called Brahmasila, over which the image of the deity will later be established.

Once the garbhadhana and agni-hotra ceremonies are complete the actual construction of the temple commences according to the plan. When the foundation is finished the vertical structure is raised. The external features of the temple are brought to life through finely sculpted figures and paintings. The art and sculpture frequently portray the forms of divine entities and the different stages of consciousness in the gradual evolution of life throughout the universe.

It is believed that the Vastu Purusha sleeps during Bhadrapada, Ashviyuja and Karhika months facing east. During Margashira, Pushya and Magha months he sleeps facing south; In phalguna, Chaitra and Vaishaka, he sleeps facing west. And, in Jeysta Ashada and Shravana, he sleeps facing north. The doors facing towards those directions are fixed in the respective months.

Its amazing that an Indian temple is not just a symbolic place of worship. but its architecture is dedicated to the Brahman aka the human form itself.

Do read parts 1-7 from Shri Sreenivasarao's blog, its enlightening indeed.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

ROI & R2I - Return of Indians & Return to India

Besides getting poked at and turned into a zombie, I really appreciate FB's BlogFriends app.

Tonight when I was exploring the recent blogs on my FB app. I came across something interesting that really made me forget it was 2 am and I couldnt resist the itch to read and blog it immdtly.

I was reading a blog called - An American Holiday and a Desi Dilema by Snigdha Sen, although the post was speaking about Thanksgiving day which is the biggest festival now in the US of A. Snigdha mentioned a report on wharton by eminent newspaper columnist Shoba Narayanan.

The report kept me awake. I know of people who made it to their american dream. I know the families who proudly flash their american relatives and the gifts.

What happened in the early 90's was the 2nd big flood of Indian Brain-Drain. (excuse my ignorance I was too young if something similar happened before)

Talent of all sorts was being whisked away and Indians (especially the IT folks) saw America as the promised land. where a Srinivas from Kuchipudi village landed in a job with a local IT company that greedily traded him as a consultant to Detroit.

Ok, it was not so bad as I just described but the bulk of the IT force which was employed were Indians and Indians who survived in a very different country with a strange culture.

All of them are now well settled, flash a green card and are overall doing great. India in the early 2K saw a great wave of enterpreunership, great flagships like Infosys, Wipro and Reliance earned a respectable place in the world forum.

This made a lot Indians abroad start dreaming about going back and there was a small wave called ROI - Return of Indians.

I do not have the statistics nor would dare to say the numbers were large. but still it was a good thing that happened. The Returning Indians brought back immense talent, knowledge and revolutionised the work culture in India.

Hyderabad & Banglore were known to be sleeping cities before 2K, but now you would be amazed that these cities do not sleep at all. we have major IT hubs, Call centers and reasearch being delivered from here.

The report by Shobha Narayanan is really a story of cross cultural dilema.

Considering our Hero even though he survived America, got a good dowry and a beautiful bride in a couple of years and yeah had a couple of kids thereafter.

He had been remitting like a loyal Indian would do for his parents, his kid brothers extravagance or his sisters marriage whatever. had now a family of his own.

While our Hero had seen his kids growing up and turning American everyday. raising them was a parental nightmare. so what does he do..he starts dreaming of R2I - Return To India.

His family was used to getting these nice gifts from him and wanted him to stay there successful hypocritical we can be.

Well, with this struggle of acceptance (a sort of) and his phobia that his kids might get the wrong culture ingrained. He starts loosing his patience.

he experiments by coming down for vacations, social events in the family - offcourse He realises that he has to buy few cartons of mineral water to avoid diahorrea and also gets the vibes of hypocrisy around him.

His relatives expect a lot from him, he has to bribe them with imported gifts and what not.

So our Hero and his alikes are as confused and troubled as those aspiring to get the american visa.

Human beings are such a disillusioned lot, we want things that we might soon repent & discard.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amazon: Reinventing the Book |

Amazon: Reinventing the Book

After reading this great article on Amazon's new (ebook reader) device - Kindle, I was impressed with some of the references Steven Levy made.

Especially the epilogue is interesting. I totally agree with him and to add to it, there would be no more trees to produce paper to be processed into books.

I would bet on shares of companies investing in recycling of existing waste paper.

Looking at the current apathy of yuppies not being able to write a 100 word composition in plain english. teachers have reported students being addicted to sms-text english.

some interesting articles on the Gen Y & technology

- Text Messaging and the death of English Language
- The Detrimental effects of america's individualistic youth

Devices like Kindle are going to be a sure welcome relief to the gadget folks.

But still the book (quote from the article) has undergone over 5000 years of technology improvisation is sure to stay. We humans have also genetically inherited the passion towards paper/physical books. It might still stay kicking alive for a few more decades.

With technology and services like Kindle replacing the traditional way of reading a good novel, We are sure to find the last few books to be preserved by those Librarians who want to keep literary artefacts available for reference in the future.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Chiu Tai, Chiu Tai - where have you gone ?

I remember there was a poem in Marathi (one of the Indian Languages spoke in the State of Maharashtra) which i learnt during my primary school days.

It was a rhyme by a kid asking Chiu Tai (common house sparrow) where it has gone.

it brings a lot of nostalgia to me personally as the poem influenced us to observe and care for the sparrows. I also faintly remember how a sparrow would get into my room the moment it found the windows open and then peck at its refelected image on the mirror.

The sparrow is a feeble bird, the gender of its kind can be distinguished by the dull woody brown - Male and the dark reddish brown-Female.

They collectively build a nest from hay & twigs and the female lays around 3-4 eggs at a time. The venue for the nest is usually at the loft or in the unreachable spots of an structure like an apartment. unlike the weaver birds, the sparrow's nest is a bit clumsy structurally and built to just to fit the need.

I am no Ornithologist nor did i do any reasearch on birds. but i think this might be one of the reasons it got its name as the common house sparrow as it prefers to stay close to us - Humans.

let me ask you my dear friends - When did you last notice the Common House sparrow in India.

answer - a year back or maybe when you were hit by someone and you saw stars and chiu tai singing around your head !

nah.jokes apart, I was shocked when I heard this news but its true.

Pls read the article in the following link.

Its pathetic we (humans) have sucessfully wiped out yet another of the species.

It high time we care for such beautiful creatures around us !

we will have rhymes but would be in a dilema if our little ones ask us the same question back....Chiu Tai, Chiu Tai - where have you gone ?