Shyamsunder Panchavati

Shyamsunder Panchavati
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Monday, July 26, 2010


With opening weekend box office receipts of $62.8 million, it’s clear that the film “Inception” appeals to a broad audience, but Silicon Valley in particular is burning with love for this movie. And I can see why: I loved Inception because I am a geek and a techie at heart. Why does being a geek mean that this movie appeals to me?  True to the spirit of the movie, let me address that question on multiple levels. (Don’t worry — I’ll try to do this in a way that doesn’t have too many spoilers).
First, and most superficially, this is a mashup of movie genres that resonate with geeks: The movie combines science fiction, espionage, con games and action movie elements, with requisite car chases and gun battles, spiced up by some excellent special effects (Paris folding in on itself is to die for).

Please follow the link to read the complete article.
Best wishes,

Saturday, July 24, 2010

STEM (Science,Technology,Engineering,& Math) education in USA, The initiative, The interest, The action.

STEM Education in United States 

Image credit : Shyam's Imagination Library

STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) education has again come into limelight suddenly with everyone concerned including White House taking initiatives in this direction.

I very vividly remember almost a year back in 2009 when this issue was raised by my favorite author, Harvard professor and former editor of HBR Prof. Rosabeth Moss Kanter. She raised this issue in one of her articles during her India visit to attend Nasscom seminar. She said

“America will create new jobs by tapping the inventiveness of entrepreneurs who can draw on a large pool of talent with so-called STEM skills – science, technology, engineering, and math. I wish that the federal stimulus package included less money on banks and more on investment in higher education and companies of the future.”

Nice words spoken, but no concrete action in that direction. A typical case of ‘intent and action’ going in opposite directions. Industry at least seemed happy building their empires outside United States ‘CISCO’ CEO John Chambers prided in his Indian talent acquisition. He said at same conference.

“Cisco CEO John Chambers, with his usual charm, repeated his company’s investment in Bangalore as its second global headquarters because of the 600,000 engineers a year that India produces.”

Is it a preference of convenience over construction? 

STEM education is a huge construction work involving the Government the industry and the intelligentsia. Till now none of them seemed to have taken it seriously.

It however is a happy augury that people have suddenly realized the importance of it. Let us hope this new found enthusiasm results in some concrete action being taken in this direction.

However the implementation of STEM is not as easy as people think. For the student perspective to change, it is essential that the changes are brought in the teacher perspective, the parent perspective, and teaching institutions perspective.

The role of Institutions

The institutions need to make the science curriculum more down to earth. It should be relevant and related to day to day applications. The indifference to science & math should in a gradual process transformed in to interest, love and finally to passion. A sufficient dose of practicals, puzzles, & games could help, but more importantly it should be related to the happenings and applications around us.

The natural affinities

Another reality that parents & the teaching community should take note of is that if one scores less in math & science, it is not the student who needs too be blamed. It has to be understood that, Science, Math, humanities learning are related to different but overlapping functions of the brain. Each individual has a circuit naturally designed for a particular stream and a profession. The Bio-individuality of Human beings needs to be respected. This has been proved by many neurophysiologic studies and has strong empirical evidence in its support.

However on the positive side is the Neuro-plasticity, which states that every one can learn, only thing is some of us just need to be Re-Booted. More often than not, it requires that we start from the ground up

The quotients IQ, EQ & PQ

STEM education is just not the case of IQ (Intelligence Quotient). It also involves EQ (Emotional Quotient), & PQ (Physical Quotient).

First factor is the PQ. The physical ability to learn, which includes the ability to hear, see, feel, move, and have the energy they need to learn.

Second factor is the EQ. Children need the right attitude to be able to learn. Without a good attitude learning becomes almost impossible. EQ includes attitudes about themselves, others, their work and the future.

Last but not the least is the IQ. The cognitive ability to learn which includes the ability to attend, understand, imbibe, process, recall & reproduce when required.

Pedagogy & Content connection:

There needs to be a symbiotic co-existence between the pedagogy & the content. “The Process & the Produce”. Iteration is an important prerequisite in any teaching process, more so in STEM education. The second most important requirement is for the teaching to come out of its linear mindset. A non linear spiral process could be a better alternative.

The faculty and the Involvement

The whole above process can be accentuated or negated by the most important factor, the faculty and its involvement. What is needed is, informed teachers, who are passionate about the subject and who show how the content is relevant to the real world. Strategies and gimmicks are secondary. 

We need strategies that allow students to write, discuss, create visual representations, and organize concepts meaningfully. The majority of students coming through public education are not naturally doing this. Strong learners are. But we need far more teachers teaching kids how to think than ever before.

 I would like to see more about the connections between content and active learning.

Let us hope that the initiatives taken by the Government and intellectuals transform themselves into concrete action plans which are implemented with all sincerity &  in not so distant future, United States starts producing sufficient number of STEM graduates.

 Let us toast to the bright future of United States of America


Please also read Shyam's article on WikiHow

 "How to Impart STEM education to your children"

This article article was featured on wikiHow home page

Saturday, July 10, 2010


An extract from Arindam Choudhary's  blog  "Passionate about India" 

"Just like the last time I wrote about one of the landmark developmental initiatives of the UPA government – NREGA – this time I decided to write upon an equally, or rather more significant, developmental initiative: Sarva Siksha Abhiyan; an initiative which holds the promise of transforming the entire socio-economic landscape of the nation, if delivered to its potential! Now, there is a big ’if’ here, as going by precedence, each and every developmental initiative of the government has been full of corruption, coupled with delivery inadequacies. And the same has been a reality with respect to SSA as well.

A recent report by British media revealed that millions of pounds of aid for education under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme have literally disappeared. The report put this figure at a staggering £340 million, which is around Rs 2,327 crore! To further this report, the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) investigation found that almost £14 million (around Rs 100 crore) had been spent on luxuries viz. new cars, luxury beds, computers et al, that had no connection with SSA. So much so that around Rs 1.02 crore was transferred into non-traceable bank accounts. Not just that, electronic equipments like air conditioners, faxes, photocopiers, colour television sets et al were bought for regions which had no electricity supply! And that’s just one side of the entire SSA story! Another CAG report reveals that around 68 per cent of the Rs 8000 crore allotted for ‘Elementary Education’ development work, which was spent under SSA, had no records. A 2006 report highlighted irregularities of funds usage to the tune of Rs 470 million in almost 14 states in SSA schemes. A brief glimpse through other media reports, in the span of the last few years, is enough to give a concrete idea about how states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh are spending allocated funds on projects that have nothing to do with SSA."

 Please read the complete article and give your inputs

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Declaration of American Independence

The United States' Declaration of Independence may well be the most cited yet least read or understood document in American history.
Some have suggested over the years that each responsible U.S. citizen should take the occasion of the Nation's birthday to read that precious document every year, something like pausing at Thanksgiving to give thanks or at New Year's to ponder what's past and ahead.
Obviously, we can't require that. But The Ticket can facilitate that. So here it is, in its historic entirety. For those who are curious to see how the historic document evolved, the wording refined and trimmed, through several writings, including those funny s's that look like f's, they can view side-by-side versions right here.
And for those who'd like a little musical accompaniment, we have a special treat this July 4th. It's a video version of the anthem performed by one of our favorite singers, a woman with an amazingly clear voice who writes her own songs. We met her here as a Ticket follower on Twitter. Her name isAmiena (her music website is here). 
The final version of the Declaration is right here with paragraphs edited for length for typographical purposes on this modern webpage.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776...............

Read the full article

Saturday, July 3, 2010

100 Great things about America

Happy 4th July to my fellow human beings in USA, and Americans world over.specially to the soldiers,"Fighting wars to bring peace","Killing innocent human beings , to save the mankind".

Even in this backdrop, there are things that can make the American proud of his great. nation.

The 100 great things about America

It's time for a breather, America. Fire up the grill, ice down the drinks, and pop open that patio umbrella. Health care, the oil spill, Afghanistan, China, Elena Kagan and financial reform will all be waiting on Tuesday, July 6th. We promise. What won't be, though, is the chance to lean back and remember why we care enough about our country to spar over these things and in the end, remain united.
"Freedom," Albert Camus pointed out, "is nothing else but a chance to be better." For 234 years, America has strived, fought, invented, pushed, pulled and dragged itself towards the better. Fortune was keen to enumerate our progress.
There's no claim to ranking or exclusivity here, so leave the nitpicking aside for another day, though feel free to add to our list in the comments section. Without further ado, and in almost no particular order, we present the Fortune 100 Great Things About America.
Part 1 1-25 26-50 51-75 75-100 ]
1. The Internet Oh yes, invented in the USA -- maybe Al Gore helped.
2. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights
3. Baseball America's pastime…steroids or not
4. Mount Rushmore Home of the original "your face here" gimmick

5. Food in New Orleans
If you can remember it the next morning

6. Rock and roll Find a Beatles or Stones song uninfluenced by American music. Just try.
7. Hawaii Mauna Kea, Kaua'i…you gotta see it to believe it.

8. iPod, iPad, and everything Apple
9. Barbecue Carolina, Mississippi, K.C., Memphis…it's all good.
10. Ford Mustang Who needs a German car? We'll take the classic.

11. Wikipedia
This article that mentions a popular fact site is a stub. You can help us by expanding it.
12. Buffalo Because this is a real sentence: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. Don't believe us? Check on #11.

13. Slam dunks Thanks to Doctor J

14. Broadway If the Lion King ever closes, Cats will come back.

15. Bluebirds
Listen to mine sing
16. Google Because no one stands up to China better
17. Mark Twain The original American bad-ass

18. The national anthem
19. Iced drinks When will the rest of the world figure this out?
20. Beaches Cape Cod, Kiawah, Zuma -- ours are better.
21. Madison Square Garden A little threadbare but still the biggest stage in America's biggest city
22. Delivery pizza
23. The Grateful Dead Long may the followers of Uncle John's Band live on.

24. YouTube We keep clicking on home videos even after Charlie bit our finger -- again!
25. The Super Bowl The parties, the ads -- oh and a sports game, too

[ The list: 1-25 26-50 51-75 75-100 ]