Archive for the 'college' Category


Silence of the lambs

I’m truly shocked by the turn of events in the students union(SU) elections. Majority of students voted for ‘none’ instead of the only candidate(Rachit) in the fray(after the other candidate’s nomination was canceled). Now that would be understandable if Rachit wasn’t good enough to be a president. But that is certainly far from the truth. You rarely ever get a Aditya Birla scholar, Goldman Sachs leader and an NTS scholar standing for a post like this.

For the past many years the SU Presidents and General Secretarys have been very unimpressive and mediocre leaders. It had never been their vision or capabilities that had brought them to power but just petty politics of regionalism and factionalism. The past three Presidents could barely even fulfill their manifesto promises! The previous General Secretary was a whiff of fresh air and a very sincere and thoughtful leader. I really thought he was the first of many to come responsible BITSians who would proudly contest elections for more than just scoring resume points. But last night we just screwed that up. And the vulgar ‘celebrations’ that followed were just disgusting. Half naked people shouting slogans and whirling hockey sticks. One could easily be mistaken that somebody had won.

I think this year certainly saw the two smartest President candidates in a very long time. Either one of them had the potential to do well. How unfortunate that Nitesh’s candidature was canceled leaving only Rachit standing. This decision couldn’t have been very easy to make and Nitesh certainly must have deserved it. Surprisingly there was a wave of sympathy for Nitesh and this was flamed into a structured campaign for ‘None’. Seriously how idiotic are we BITSians? With the festivals coming up, delaying the elections by a whole month is just going to set us back more than we can fathom. Would Rachit have been such a bad president, that we would rather not choose than choose him? He is one of the brightest and honest people on campus, people who would stay miles away from the murky waters of politics. It was his idealism and passion to change the system that made him contest the elections. We could hardly let such a deed go unpunished.

I believe this happened because few people were even thinking. We’ve survived for so long by not caring for the SU, that we would rather be sheep and vote for any random guy. Ex: One guy who thought ‘a one man race is no fun’. What a moron, but sadly not the only one. Most of us would rather be sheep following the words of some faceless kingmaker out there, than think and be leaders. Last night just reflected the Indian political scenario and we BITSians were the illiterate villagers who bring bigots and ineffective parties to power every time. Well, we get the leadership we deserve. Somebody should have given us wisdom along with the high IQs, which is certainly not serving us well.

I’m truly ashamed.

ps: And no, I did not campaign or lobby for anybody, even though I know Rachit as a friend. His manifesto did not impress me much, but was better than what others had, which is why I voted for him.


Connecting the dots

This year is my sister’s time to start college. Which means heated discussions on which college should be chosen, which branch ‘will be good for her’, which college has a ‘better brand’, etc, by my parents and relatives. Sometimes I’m asked for my opinion and sometimes my sister is also asked for hers. Its more heated because it involves choosing between the venerable IITs, BITS, IT-Bhu and NITs. My very knowledgeable relatives believe no matter what, an IIT should be choosen. After all there’s a completely different charm to studying in a ‘branded institution’ even if it is coming up in a single leased building(IIT-Hyd) or in a non-existent campuses(IIT-Jaipur, IIT-Bhubaneshwar, IIT-Punjab). IT-BHU or the NITs are not an option. And God forgive me, no BITS.

The reasoning? “When you go out of India, nobody will recognise whether you are from KIT, Junnabhai college or BITS. Only when you say IIT they will recognise.”

I being the polite types totally did everybody a favor by not asking them to ‘fuck off’. I just said “No new college. I have nothing against the IITs. I really don’t care, let my sister pick.”

“No your sister is too young. She doesn’t know anything. You should listen to your father.”

I again did not ask them to fuck off. But I think I saw my sister mouthing out those words. My father looked even more confused, here was a 30+ yr old Top 10 US MBA relative telling him to ignore his 20 yr old son, studying sciences and doing god knows what. Luckily my sister spoke up soon. She refused to study again in any college that exists in a building(IIT-Hyd, Narayana Jr. College). And said she’ll take Electrical or Mechanical in IT-BHU. And then talked about how you cannot predict success or failure by just looking at a college and ‘how you cannot connect the dots looking into the future'(Yes she had watched Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech the day before). I was so glad I had shipped my computer home. And then I realized she had understood the sentence better than I had. I was so proud.

update: She’s coming to PIlani for Finance! B.Tech Mechanical at IT-BHU(or IIT-BHU rather) was dropped.


My reservations on the reservations.

The supreme court has finally ruled on the issue of the OBC quota for Central education institutes. The issue of having 49.5% reservation is iconic and national institutes like IITs and IIMs truly has a lot of us angered and divided. Personally I’m in favor of the reservations, but I think the reservation makes sense in the short-term but isn’t solving any issues for the long-term.

SCs/STs and OBCs are an under-represented lot in most higher education institutes. They form a major chunk of the lower economic classes and today it’s just impossible to get into a good higher education institute without spending a lot of money on getting coached for the exams. Of course if the reservations were in terms of economic classifications, it would make a lot more sense. But the government has its own selfish reasons of favoring castes which form the major portion of the Indian population. At least the ‘creamy layer’ of OBCs is not going to be favored in these reservations.

I believe these reservations will affect the medical stream students the most negatively. They already have such few seats and now there are even lesser. I hope the government does something about increasing the seats. In the engineering and management streams, I’m a little amused to see that most people are incensed about the reservation policies being applicable to IITs and IIMs. Out of some 5 lakh aspiring engineers, 4000 will make it to IITs. Why is everybody so concerned about the fate 4000 of brightest minds? The bright guys will almost certainly do well anywhere. Now with the reservation, a few hundred out of the lakhs of OBC/SC/ST(and impoverished) students will be benefited from an IIT education. And the IITs must increase their intake of students. Already most of them are spread over such huge sprawling campuses, which is frankly a big waste of space for purely technical colleges. I mean 500 acres for just 5000 students is a little too much. Compare that to American elite universities which have tens of thousands of students on similar or smaller land sizes.

These reservations will benefit more people than not, but its a classic case of ‘Too little, too late.’ Higher education is going the private way quickly. What with so few govt seats available, it had to happen. The reservations can’t affect the private institutes, which are barely meritocratic and bastions of the well-off kids. So the problem of poor kids not getting quality education comes back again. And if the benefits are to be increased, more govt institutes must upgrade the quality of education they provide.

On a personal level though I’m a little pained. I studied in a IIT-JEE coaching institute and I know the hard work it takes to sacrifice two(or even more) years of a teenage life on the JEE altar and then be crushed because you didn’t make it and somebody else who scored much lesser makes it. And with my sister giving the JEE in three days, this is undue and unfair pressure on her.

Times like these, when I’m feel proud and lucky to be a BITSian. Merit rules here and always will. And probably thats why there are very very few SCs/STs here(my personal observation). I though sometimes wish there was a quota for girls. Frankly its unhealthy.

PS: I’m disabling comments for this post. From what I’ve seen on other blogs such posts always turn into places for useless rhetoric on either IIT/IIM bashing or IIT/IIM glorifying. Certainly NOT going to happen on my blog. If you absolutely have to vent, go to YouthCurry, you’ll find something for your taste ;).


Speaking at the FORTUNE Global Forum, representing 18-21yr olds of India

I’ve been invited as a panelist for a discussion on youth at the FORTUNE Global Forum. Here’s a intro to the conference.

FORTUNE Global Forum brings top CEOs together with heads of state and leading thinkers to exchange views on the most pressing issues global businesses face. The FORTUNE Global Forum at New Delhi will go beyond the meeting room to provide a better understanding of the economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions of a country that is both intriguing and contradictory.

To ensure the highest level of discussion, participation is by invitation only and limited to the chairmen, CEOs, and presidents of major multinational corporations.Top-caliber guests, global representation, a strategically focused program led by FORTUNE editors, a variety of interactive formats, and the intimate scale are what make the FORTUNE Global Forum the premier summit for the world’s leading chief executives.

A few speakers confirmed for the forum are:
1. L N Mittal of Mittal Steel
2. Azim Premji of Wipro
3. Nandan Nilekani of Infosys
4. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon
5. Shashi Tharoor Former Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, United Nations
6. Michael Dell of Dell Computers
7. John Chambers of Cisco
8. Montek Singh Ahluwalia Deputy-Chairman, Indian Planning Commission
9. Kishore Biyani, MD of Pantaloon retail
10. Malvinder Mohan Singh, CEO of Ranbaxy Laboratories

11. Vivek Paul, MD of Texas Pacific

I’ll be attending the Roundtable titled INDIA IN FOCUS: SNAPSHOTS OF AN EVOLVING CULTURE. I’m a part of the panel discussion which aims to understand the current young generation’s aspirations, dreams and attitudes. It will be moderated by Barkha Dutt. The description of the panel discussion is ” The conclusion presents a rare opportunity for national and global business executives to hear first-hand from the latest generation—18-21 year olds—representing the demographic majority in India. How ready are you to deal with this new generation as consumers? Joining your workforce? What are their aspirations and dreams and how are they different from children raised in the pre-liberalization era?”

There are very few conferences which talk about business and also give youngsters a chance to speak. Its awesome that Fortune is doing this. It is such a welcome change! It excites me to think I will be representing my generation on a platform as huge as this. I’m making a (long)list of things I want to talk about.

I would really like to know what you think I should talk about. Please add comments or mail me at or call me at 09983526558. Articles to read are welcome too.

To torture a cliche, Your voice matters!

ps: If you are in Pilani, try this link for the FORTUNE Conferences.


Exciting things that happened last week.

This week has been the best one of the week. Oasis ensured a week of fun and frolic. The live bands in Rocktaves and Lucky Ali made the nights fun. The days were spent on quizzes and dances. Also my oldest friend from childhood(we’ve known each other and studied together for 17years!) was here and we had good fun together.

Also I broke out of my jinx for coming second in everything. A little history of the jinx. In the past semester I came second in some seven-eight competitions(ranging from a quiz to a paper presentation to a bplan competition). It pretty much drove me nuts and I remember trying to screw up in a quiz and come third for a change, didn’t happen. But this Oasis, I came third in a quiz! And the next day came first in the biggest quiz of the fest- OQ(oasis quiz). The quiz was great fun and was totally my style. So the three of us owned the stage and beat everybody I had always wanted to.

But the most important event of the week happened right after OQ. I returned to my room to dump the freebies and checked my mail. I had got a mail from Rashmi Bansal of JAM, who informed I had been selected as a panel member for a discussion in one of the FORTUNE CEO conferences!

A few days back I had sent a mail to Rashmi after reading this post. The post said, it was an international conference, but omg a FORTUNE conference! Nothing this exciting has happened to me ever and doubt it will, for a few more years.

A description  follows in the next post.


PC the new idiot box?

As I type, the guy in the room directly behind mine with whom I share a ventilator, is skirmishing with terrorists in Counter Strike. His headphones stopped functioning a week ago and now the ventilator ensures that I don’t miss a single second of action.

I’m guessing he plays Counter Strike for about 2-3 hours daily. And then in the same day, 2-3 hours of watching 24 or HIMYM or Heroes. Then at least one movie. Then you can’t forget the time spent on music. Thats a lot of time to spend on the PC doing what the PC was originally not made for. And he’s not alone, lots of people have a similar time-table, though my backie is well-known for his busy schedule.

Gaming is a decent way to spend time once in a while, stress relieving effects of gunning people down are undeniable. But its a scourge when you spend nearly every waking hour doing so. Its quite sad actually, you interact with your buddies more frequently in the virtual world than you do offline. Sports rivalries are being replaced by clan rivalries.

TV is back with a vengeance, this time on your PC. TV series get distributed on the lan in seasons. So half a dozen episodes get watched in a row. No advertisements and no waiting for a week to know what happens next. Internet TV and video sharing sites only add to the problem. People with no life offline get pretty much hooked checking out videos.

Then there are instant messengers which further make it easier to be alienated out of real life. Not to forget ‘news sites’ like Digg or Reddit. Majority of their top links are always a funny picture or a funny video. People obviously like funnier stuff more than actual news relevant to the world. You could spend hours surfing and reading all the crap that gets top rated.

The difference between couch potatoes and PC users is that , PC guys get their fingers exercised more ;). But other than that, they pretty much kill you brain cells the same way.

Wife of Second Life


To Startup at college.

I originally wrote this post on Efactor, the CEL blog on May 05, 2007.

My first post on efactor and I’m addressing a question which I’ve never been able to answer satisfactorily. Should students startup while still at college? I’ve tried to give all the possible answers people tend to give when asked.

No they shouldn’t.
1. There’s a lot of time in the future to start ventures and its best to learn and experiment with interests at while at college. The point is, a venture narrows down your focus on something which quite possibly isn’t your passion and might actually leave you frustrated in the future.

2. Your grades could get screwed because you put effort on the venture, which quite possibly will fail, leaving you helpless with grades you don’t deserve. (for all of you who are right now thinking, grades don’t matter, trust me they do.)

No they can’t.
1. University provides a cocoon, protects you and keeps you away from the realities of life. Its tough to pull off ventures because you really don’t understand the real situation out there. Of course for a web venture, it is quite possible.

2. People won’t take you seriously enough. People won’t trust you enough.
People look at undergraduates as kids, their ventures as college projects. They doubt your commitment.

Yes they should.
1. Their project might just be the next breakthrough in the industry. If it is not monetized soon enough, it’ll be too late. Such opportunities come rare.

2. A lot of responsibilities get piled on after graduation. risk appetite suddenly becomes low when you are on your own. Best to start up at college, when you’ve got parents backing you, great friends to support you, professors available to provide free advice.

Yes they can.
1. The best ventures can be started up at college, because that is the place where smart minds meet, live together. A lot of web startups show this trend, Paul Graham puts this perfectly “It’s not what people learn in classes at MIT and Stanford that has made technology companies spring up around them. They could sing campfire songs in the classes so long as admissions worked the same.” I have a feeling its true for BITS-Pilani too.

2. Startups need the enthusiasm, blind optimism which only students can bring. Fresh ideas come from the unprejudiced mind. Out of the box thinking becomes quite tough when you are already been exposed to realities.

I’ve still not decided which is the answer but that hasn’t stopped me from experimenting with entrepreneurship or starting up.

You decide for yourself.


(Abhishek is a budding tech entrepreneur, and also blogs at A site a day. Abhishek can be contacted at -Ed)

—Heh, nice to hear somebody talk about me in third person.

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